pain in his heart

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pain in his heart

Jeremiah 4:19-22 (JDV)

Jeremiah 4:19 My anguish, my anguish! I writhe in agony! Oh, the pain in my heart! My heart pounds; I cannot be silent, because you, my throat, have heard the sound of the ram’s horn – the shout of battle.

Jeremiah 4:20 Disaster after disaster is reported because the whole land is destroyed. Suddenly my tents are destroyed, my tent curtains, in a moment.

Jeremiah 4:21 How long must I see the signal flag and hear the sound of the ram’s horn?

Jeremiah 4:22 “You see, my people are fools; they do not know me. They are foolish children, without understanding. They are skilled in doing what is evil, but they do not know how to do what is good.”

pain in his heart

God speaks to the prophet and tells him how he sees things. He feels pain in his heart. He knows the disaster after disaster that is ripping apart his nation the way soldiers would rip apart a tent. He sees the destruction, and hears the sounds of battle.

But he has to send the battle. He has to send the disaster because his own people keep acting like fools, skilled in nothing but evil.

The Lord knows the evil that we do, and it breaks his heart. He knows the consequences we must face, and he longs for us to change, so that we can avert the coming disasters.

Lord, change our hearts, so that we can stop breaking yours.

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wholehearted surrender

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wholehearted surrender

Jeremiah 4:3-18 (JDV)

Jeremiah 4:3 You see, this is what Yahveh says to the men of Judah and Jerusalem: Break up the unplowed ground; do not sow among the thorns.

Jeremiah 4:4 Circumcise yourselves to Yahveh; remove the foreskin of your hearts, men of Judah and residents of Jerusalem. Otherwise, my wrath will break out like fire and burn with no one to extinguish it because of your evil deeds.

Jeremiah 4:5 Declare in Judah, proclaim in Jerusalem, and say: Blow the ram’s horn throughout the land. Cry out loudly and say: Assemble yourselves, and let’s flee to the fortified cities.

Jeremiah 4:6 Lift up a signal flag toward Zion. Run for cover! Don’t stand still! For I am bringing disaster from the north – a crushing blow.

Jeremiah 4:7 A lion has gone up from his thicket; a destroyer of nations has set out. He has left his lair to make your land a waste. Your cities will be reduced to uninhabited ruins.

Jeremiah 4:8 Because of this, put on sackcloth; mourn and wail, for Yahveh’s burning anger has not turned away from us.

Jeremiah 4:9 “On that day” – this is what Yahveh declares – “the king and the officials will lose their courage. The priests will tremble in fear, and the prophets will be scared speechless.”

Jeremiah 4:10 I said, “Oh no, Lord Yahveh, you have certainly deceived this people and Jerusalem, by announcing, ‘You will have peace,’ while a sword is at our throats.”

Jeremiah 4:11 “At that time it will be said to this people and to Jerusalem, ‘A searing wind blows from the barren heights in the open country on the way to my dear people. It comes not to winnow or to sift;

Jeremiah 4:12 a wind too strong for this comes at my call. Now I will also pronounce judgments against them.'”

Jeremiah 4:13 Look, he advances like clouds; his chariots are like a storm. His horses are swifter than eagles. Tragedy1 to us, for we are ruined!

Jeremiah 4:14 Wash the evil from your heart, Jerusalem, so that you will be delivered. How long will you harbor malicious thoughts?

Jeremiah 4:15 For a voice announces from Dan, proclaiming malice from Mount Ephraim.

Jeremiah 4:16 Warn the nations: Look! Proclaim to Jerusalem: Those who besiege are coming from a distant land; they raise their voices against the cities of Judah.

Jeremiah 4:17 They have her surrounded like those who guard a field, because she has rebelled against me. this is what Yahveh declares.

Jeremiah 4:18 Your way and your actions have brought this on you. This is your punishment. It is very bitter, because it has reached your heart!

wholehearted surrender

Rev. Joe Pritchett, of Garner NC says that this text speaks of a coming judgment of God upon his people:

But as is always the case with our long-suffering God, even when judgment is about to fall, he continues to reach out his hand of grace and forgiveness for a heart that genuinely returns to him. The Lord makes it clear, however, that he is not interested in any half-hearted apologies. They must respond to the Lord in a “truthful, just and righteous way.” He goes on to explain that they are to circumcise (or consecrate) themselves to him, but not simply in a symbolic, fleshly fashion, instead it is to be a circumcision of their hearts.”2

Lord, we surrender our whole hearts – our whole lives to you.

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1 אוֹי = tragedy. Jeremiah 4:13, 31; 6:4; 10:19; 13:27; 15:10; 45:3; 48:46.

2 Maranatha Daily Devotional “Truthful, Just and Righteous” Monday, November 2, 2015.

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they will come together

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they will come together

Jeremiah 3:11-4:2 (JDV)

Jeremiah 3:11 Yahveh announced to me, “Unfaithful Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah.
Jeremiah 3:12 Go, proclaim these words to the north, and say, ‘Return, unfaithful Israel. this is what Yahveh declares. I will not look on you with anger, because I am unfailing in my love. this is what Yahveh declares. I will not be angry permanently.
Jeremiah 3:13 Only acknowledge your violation—you have rebelled against Yahveh your God. You have dispersed your favors to strangers under every green tree and have not obeyed me. this is what Yahveh declares.
Jeremiah 3:14 ” ‘Return, you faithless children — this is what Yahveh declares — because I am your master, and I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion.
Jeremiah 3:15 I will give you shepherds who are loyal to me, and they will shepherd you with knowledge and skill.
Jeremiah 3:16 When you multiply and increase in the land, in those days — this is what Yahveh declares — no one will say again, “The ark of Yahveh ‘s covenant.” It will never come to mind, and no one will remember or miss it. Another one will not be made.
Jeremiah 3:17 At that time Jerusalem will be called Yahveh’s Throne, and all the nations will be gathered to it, to the name of Yahveh in Jerusalem. They will cease to follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts.
Jeremiah 3:18 In those days the house of Judah will join with the house of Israel, and they will come together from the land of the north to the land I have given your fathers to inherit.'”
Jeremiah 3:19 I thought, “How I long to make you my sons and give you a desirable land, the most beautiful inheritance of all the nations.” I thought, “You will call me ‘My Father’ and never turn away from me.”
Jeremiah 3:20 However, as a woman may betray her lover, so you have betrayed me, house of Israel. this is what Yahveh declares.
Jeremiah 3:21 A sound is heard on the barren heights: the children of Israel weeping and begging for mercy, for they have perverted their way; they have forgotten Yahveh their God.
Jeremiah 3:22 Return, you faithless children. I will heal your unfaithfulness. “Here we are, coming to you, because you are Yahveh our God.
Jeremiah 3:23 Surely, falsehood comes from the hills, commotion from the mountains, but the salvation of Israel is only in Yahveh our God.
Jeremiah 3:24 From the time of our youth the shameful one has consumed what our fathers have worked for — their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters.
Jeremiah 3:25 Let us lie down in our shame; let our disgrace cover us. We have failed Yahveh our God, both we and our fathers, from the time of our youth even to this day. We have not obeyed Yahveh our God.”
Jeremiah 4:1 If you return, Israel – this is what Yahveh declares – you will return to me, if you remove your repulsive idols from my presence and do not waver,
Jeremiah 4:2 then you can swear, “As Yahveh lives,” in truth, in justice, and in righteousness, then the nations will be blessed by him and will pride themselves in him.

they will come together

Jeremiah’s call for both Israel and Judah to return and be healed of their unfaithfulness is for a larger purpose. He sees a time in the future when all the nations will be gathered to Yahveh’s throne, will be blessed by him,and will pride themselves in him. This is the Mosaic covenant commission. The people of God were to be a sacred nation in order to draw all the other nations to him.

The same is true of new covenant congregations as well. It does not help for us to unify if we remain unfaithful to the one who called us. Our unity needs to be in truth, justice and righteousness. We need to draw people to the holiness of God — to a relationship with him based on truth.

Lord, unify us with a shared faithfulness to your truth.

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stones and trees

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stones and trees

Jeremiah 3:6-10 (JDV)

Jeremiah 3:6 In the days of King Josiah Yahveh asked me, “Have you seen what unfaithful Israel has done? She has gone up every high hill and gone under every green tree to prostitute herself there.
Jeremiah 3:7 I thought, ‘After she has done all these things, she will return to me.’ But she did not return, and her faithless sister Judah saw it.
Jeremiah 3:8 I observed that it was because unfaithful Israel had committed adultery that I had sent her away and had given her a certificate of divorce. Nevertheless, her treacherous sister Judah was not afraid but also went and prostituted herself.
Jeremiah 3:9 Indifferent to her prostitution, she defiled the land and committed adultery with stones and trees.
Jeremiah 3:10 Yet in spite of all this, her faithless sister Judah didn’t return to me with all her heart—only in pretense.” This is what Yahveh declares.

stones and trees

I can picture an angry husband here, saying incredulously, “She left me for that?” And, what was it that led both Israel and Judah to prostitute themselves? It was “stones and trees.” It does seem ridiculous that all it took was some chiseled stones and carved trees. God had rescued his bride from an idolatrous nation that had enslaved them, and she decided to become enslaved again.

All sin is like that. It is the choice of the impure instead of the pure, the paltry instead of the magnificent. No wonder God can speak through his prophet with an incredulous tone.

Father, forgive us for our ridiculous choices. Free us from the tyrany of the stones and trees we have wedded ourselves to.

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marmsky·com 20200928

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we are all guilty

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we are all guilty

Jeremiah 2:23-3:5 (JDV)

Jeremiah 2:23 How can you say, “I am not defiled; I have not followed the Baals”? Look at the road you took in the valley; acknowledge what you have done. You are a swift young cow-camel twisting and turning on her way,
Jeremiah 2:24 a wild donkey at home in the open country. She sniffs the wind in the heat of her desire. Who can control her passion? Anyone looking for her need not tire himself out; they will find her in her mating season.
Jeremiah 2:25 Keep your feet from going bare and your throat from thirst. But you say, “It’s hopeless; I love strangers, and I will continue to follow them.”
Jeremiah 2:26 Like the a thief experiences shame when he is caught, so the house of Israel has been put to shame. They, their kings, their officials, their priests, and their prophets
Jeremiah 2:27 say to a tree, “You are my father,” and to a stone, “You gave birth to me.” You see, they have turned their back to me and not their face, yet in their time of disaster they beg, “Rise up and save us!”
Jeremiah 2:28 But where are your gods you made for yourself? Let them rise up and save you in your time of disaster if they can, because your gods are as numerous as your cities, Judah.
Jeremiah 2:29 Why do you bring a case against me? All of you have rebelled against me. This is what Yahveh declares.
Jeremiah 2:30 I have struck down your children for nothing; they would not accept discipline. Your own sword has devoured your prophets like a ravaging lion.
Jeremiah 2:31 Evil generation, pay attention to the word of Yahveh! Have I been an open country to Israel or a land of dense darkness? Why do my people say, “We will go where we want; we will no longer come to you”?
Jeremiah 2:32 Can a young woman forget her jewelry or a bride her wedding sash? Yet my people have forgotten me for innumerable days.
Jeremiah 2:33 How skillfully you pursue love; you also teach evil women your ways.
Jeremiah 2:34 Also, your skirts are stained with the blood of the innocent poor. You did not catch them breaking and entering. But in spite of all these things
Jeremiah 2:35 you say, “I am innocent. His anger is sure to turn away from me.” But notice, I will certainly judge you because you have said, “I have not made a mistake.”
Jeremiah 2:36 How unstable you are, constantly changing your ways! You will be put to shame by Egypt just as you were put to shame by Assyria.
Jeremiah 2:37 Moreover, you will be led out from here with your hands on your head since Yahveh has rejected those you trust; you will not succeed even with their help.
Jeremiah 3:1 If a man divorces his wife and she leaves him to marry another, can he ever return to her? Wouldn’t that land become totally defiled? But you! You have prostituted yourself with many partners—can you return to me? This is what Yahveh declares.
Jeremiah 3:2 Look to the barren heights and see. Where have you not been immoral? You sat waiting for them beside the highways like a nomad in the open country. You have defiled the land with your prostitution and wickedness.
Jeremiah 3:3 This is why the showers haven’t come—why there has been no spring rain. You have the brazen look of a prostitute and refuse to be ashamed.
Jeremiah 3:4 Haven’t you recently called to me, “My Father. You were my friend in my youth.
Jeremiah 3:5 Will he bear a grudge permanently? Will his wrath never end?” Notice, this is what you have said, but you have done every evil thing you could do.

we are all guilty

What Jeremiah is drawing attention to in today’s text is what I call depravity denial. It’s when a sinner looks at God square in the face and says “I am innocent, and you are punishing me anyway.” No one is innocent. We are all guilty enough to deserve permanent destruction. The good news of the gospel is not that there are a few of us who are good enough to rescue. The good news is that God allows some of us condemned criminals to be pardoned on the basis of Christ’s goodness and sacrifice on the cross.

Think about that the next time you are tempted to come to God with a “not guilty” plea. It does not work, because it is not true. Our only possible plea is the blood of the Lamb.

Lord, remove from us the sham of claiming our own innocence.

Watch the video below.

marmsky·com 20200927

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stubborn stain

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stubborn stain

Jeremiah 2:14-22 (JDV)

Jeremiah 2:14 Is Israel a slave? Was he born into slavery? Why else has he become a seized property?
Jeremiah 2:15 The young lions have roared at him; they have roared loudly. They have laid waste his land. His cities are in ruins, without inhabitants.
Jeremiah 2:16 The men of Memphis and Tahpanhes have also cracked your forehead.
Jeremiah 2:17 Did you not bring this on yourself by leaving Yahveh your God while he was leading you along the way?
Jeremiah 2:18 Now what would you gain by traveling along the way to Egypt to drink the water of the Nile? What would you gain by traveling along the way to Assyria to drink the water of the Euphrates?
Jeremiah 2:19 Your own evil will discipline you; your own acts of rebellion will reprimand you. Recognize how evil and bitter it is for you to leave Yahveh your God and to have no fear of me. This is the declaration of the Lord Yahveh of Armies.
Jeremiah 2:20 You see, long ago I broke your yoke; I tore off your chains. You insisted, “I will not serve!” On every high hill and under every green tree you lay down like a prostitute.
Jeremiah 2:21 I planted you, a choice vine from the very best seed. How then could you turn into a disloyal, foreign vine?
Jeremiah 2:22 Even if you wash with strong soap and use lots of alkali, the stain of your violation still stares me in the face. This is the Lord Yahveh’s declaration.

stubborn stain

Don’t you hate it when you get a stain on your favorite article of clothing, and have to throw it out? It feels unfair. You have all those dopey things you wouldn’t mind getting rid of, but they remain serviceable. But your favorite thing now has to be discarded! Well, that’s how God felt about the Israelites. He rescued them from slavery, and how did they respond? They decided they would not serve him out of appreciation. Instead, they prostituted themselves to the gods of the nations. God cannot stand to look at that stubborn stain. Out they have to go.

Lord, forgive us for our stubborn independence. We surrender all.

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marmsky·com 20200926

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they quit asking

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they quit asking

Jeremiah 2:1-13 (JDV)

Jeremiah 2:1 The word of Yahveh came to me:
Jeremiah 2:2 “Go and call in the ears of Jerusalem that this is what Yahveh says: I remember the covenant loyalty of your youth, your care as a bride—how you followed me in the open country, in a land not sown.
Jeremiah 2:3 Israel was holy to Yahveh, the first of his harvest. All who ate of it found themselves guilty; disaster came on them.” This is Yahveh’s declaration.
Jeremiah 2:4 Hear the word of Yahveh, house of Jacob and all families of the house of Israel.
Jeremiah 2:5 This is what Yahveh says: What fault did your fathers find in me that they went so far from me, followed temporary idols, and became temporary themselves?
Jeremiah 2:6 They stopped asking, “Where is Yahveh who brought us from the land of Egypt, who led us through the open country, through a land of deserts and ravines, through a land of drought and darkness, a land no one traveled through and where no one lived?”
Jeremiah 2:7 I brought you to a fertile land to eat its fruit and bounty, but after you entered, you defiled my land; you made my inheritance repulsive.
Jeremiah 2:8 The priests quit asking, “Where is Yahveh?” The experts in the law no longer knew me, and the rulers rebelled against me. The prophets prophesied by Baal and followed useless idols.
Jeremiah 2:9 Therefore, I will bring a case against you again. This is Yahveh’s declaration. I will bring a case against your children’s children.
Jeremiah 2:10 Cross over to the coasts of Cyprus and take a look. Send someone to Kedar and consider carefully; see if there has ever been anything like this:
Jeremiah 2:11 Has a nation ever exchanged its gods? (But they were not gods!) Yet my people have exchanged what brought them glory for worthless idols.
Jeremiah 2:12 Be appalled at this, sky; be shocked and utterly desolated! This is Yahveh’s declaration.
Jeremiah 2:13 You see, my people have committed a double evil: They have abandoned me, the fountain of living water, and dug cisterns for themselves—cracked cisterns that cannot hold water.

they quit asking

God’s condemnation of his own people through Jeremiah is this: they used to have a relationship with the LORD but they lost it. They became so dull in their covenant loyalty that they even stopped asking where God was. They had become religiously desensitized. Even the priests and experts in the Bible were just going through the motions, with no awareness of the presence and power of God all around them.

Do we dare ask where God is today? Most of our cultures are okay with a personal, private belief, as long as it doesn’t get out of hand, or challenge our ethics. Yes, our nations are in the same boat as the nation Jeremiah was called to condemn. Jeremiah said “Israel was holy to Yahveh” — but not anymore.

Lord, rescue us from our own ignorance of you. So many of us are so spiritually dull that we don’t know you, and don’t even know to ask for you.

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cursed commission

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cursed commission

Jeremiah 1:1-19 (JDV)

Jeremiah 1:1 The words of Jeremiah, the son of Hilkiah, from the priests who were in Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin.
Jeremiah 1:2 The word of Yahveh came to him in the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah son of Amon, king of Judah.
Jeremiah 1:3 It also came throughout the days of Jehoiakim son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the fifth month of the eleventh year of Zedekiah son of Josiah, king of Judah, when the people of Jerusalem went into exile.
Jeremiah 1:4 The word of Yahveh came to me:
Jeremiah 1:5 I chose you before I formed you in the womb; I committed you before you were born. I appointed you a prophet to the nations.
Jeremiah 1:6 But I protested, “Oh no, Lord Yahveh! Notice, I don’t know how to speak since I am only a youth.”
Jeremiah 1:7 Then Yahveh said to me: Do not say, “I am only a youth,” because you will go to everyone I send you to and speak whatever I tell you.
Jeremiah 1:8 Do not be afraid of anyone, because I will be with you to rescue you. This is Yahveh’s declaration.
Jeremiah 1:9 Then Yahveh reached out his hand, touched my mouth, and told me: notice, I have now filled your mouth with my words.
Jeremiah 1:10 See, I have appointed you today over nations and kingdoms to uproot and break up, to destroy and demolish, to build and plant.
Jeremiah 1:11 Then the word of Yahveh came to me, asking, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” I replied, “I see a branch of a shaked – an almond tree.”
Jeremiah 1:12 Yahveh said to me, “You have seen correctly, I shakad—watch over my word to accomplish it.”
Jeremiah 1:13 Again the word of Yahveh came to me asking, “What do you see?” And I replied, “I see a boiling pot, its lip tilted from the north to the south.”
Jeremiah 1:14 Then Yahveh said to me, “Disaster will be poured out from the north on all who live in the land.
Jeremiah 1:15 Notice, I am about to summon all the clans and kingdoms of the north.” This is Yahveh’s declaration. They will come, and each king will set up his throne at the entrance to Jerusalem’s gates. They will attack all her surrounding walls and all the other cities of Judah.
Jeremiah 1:16 “I will pronounce my judgments against them for all the evil they did when they abandoned me to burn incense to other gods and to worship the works of their own hands.
Jeremiah 1:17 “Now, get ready. Stand up and tell them everything that I command you. Do not be intimidated by them or I will cause you to cower before them.
Jeremiah 1:18 Notice, now, I am the one who has made you a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls against the whole land– against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests, and the population.
Jeremiah 1:19 They will fight against you but never prevail over you, since I am with you to rescue you.” This is Yahveh’s declaration.

cursed commission

Jeremiah had a tough go at being God’s servant. We can already see that he was going to have a life like that by looking at this commissioning event. God basically tells him that his role is to be against his own people, because God was going to bring calamity on them. He was not even allowed to be apologetic. God told him to stand up and fight — not the enemies abroad, but the leaders of his own people, some of whom were his friends. Who wants a commission like that?

Jeremiah struggled with that commission. Being obedient to God’s call made him undesirable, and brought him close to death numerous times. His words now speak to us, because we are also often asked by our Lord to stand up against apostasy and organized wrong among our own people.

Lord, give us the courage to speak up for you, even when our own friends and leaders are the targets of your condemnation.

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their story

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their story

Acts 28:17-31 (JDV)

Acts 28:17 After three days he called together the leaders of the Jews. When they had gathered he said to them: “Brothers, although I have done nothing against our people or the customs of our ancestors, I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans.
Acts 28:18 After they examined me, they wanted to let me go, since there was no reason for the death penalty in my case.
Acts 28:19 Because the Jews objected, I was forced to appeal to Caesar; even though I had no charge to bring against my people.
Acts 28:20 For this reason I’ve asked to see you and speak to you. In fact, it is for the hope of Israel that I’m wearing this chain.”
Acts 28:21 Then they said to him, “We haven’t received any letters about you from Judea. None of the brothers has come and reported or spoken anything evil about you.
Acts 28:22 But we want to hear what your views are, since we know that people everywhere are speaking against this party.”
Acts 28:23 After arranging a day with him, many came to him at his lodging. From dawn to dusk he expounded and testified about the kingdom of God. He tried to persuade them about Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets.
Acts 28:24 Some were persuaded by what he said, but others did not believe.
Acts 28:25 Disagreeing among themselves, they began to go away after Paul made one statement: “The Sacred Breath was right in saying to your ancestors through the prophet Isaiah
Acts 28:26 when he said, Go to these people and say: You will always be listening, but never understanding; and you will always be looking, but never perceiving.
Acts 28:27 You see, the hearts of these people have grown callous, their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; otherwise they might see with their eyes and hear with their ears, understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.
Acts 28:28 Therefore, let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.”
Acts 28:29
Acts 28:30 Paul stayed two whole years in his own rented house. And he welcomed all who visited him,
Acts 28:31 proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.

their story

The Acts seems to start out with a bang, and end with a whimper. All the miracles seem to have been spent, and nothing seems to be resolved. Paul is still in prison, unrescued. The Jews as a people remain unconvinced that their Messiah has come. The Romans are still in charge. Why this ending?

History reveals that not much of Paul’s story is left to tell. He was probably released for a while at some point, but was later arrested again, and executed by Rome. Acts does not record any of this. We don’t know exactly why. I think Luke wanted his story to end here, because he wanted Paul’s words in verse 28 to be his epilogue.

“Therefore, let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.”

Paul did not prevail, but he accomplished his mission. There are believers all over the world today because some brave missionaries had the courage to obey the Great Commission of Christ, and proclaim the gospel of God’s grace to the nations. Acts was their story.

Lord, thank you for the courage of cross-cultural missionaries.

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there we found brothers and sisters

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there we found brothers and sisters

Acts 28:11-16 (JDV)

Acts 28:11 After three months we set sail in an Alexandrian ship that had wintered at the island, with the Twin Gods as its figurehead.
Acts 28:12 Landing at Syracuse, we stayed three days.
Acts 28:13 From there, after making a circuit along the coast, we reached Rhegium. After one day a south wind sprang up, and the second day we came to Puteoli.
Acts 28:14 There we found brothers and sisters and were invited to stay a week with them. And so we came to Rome.
Acts 28:15 Now the brothers and sisters from there had heard the news about us and had come to meet us as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns. When Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage.
Acts 28:16 When we entered Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself with the soldier who kept him.

there we found brothers and sisters

I took a number of mission trips where I was alone, or had maybe one companion with me, until I reached my destination. It was such a comfort to find an entire church, or group of churches — greeting me when I arrived. We know from the last chapter of his epistle to Romans that there had already been many missionaries working in Rome, so there was already an established church there at this point in the narrative of Acts.

So, if Paul was not going to Rome to plant or establish a church, what was his mission? He had been commissioned as an ambassador to the highest levels of government, representing the kingdom of God in general, and the mission of the church of Christ in particular.

How comforting it must have been for him to arrive in Rome after such a long and arduous trip to find fellow believers there to greet him!

Thank you Lord, for the fellowship of kindred minds!

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