Job 1-2

Job 1:5
So it was, when the days of feasting had run their course, that Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did regularly.

Job was a righteous man whom the Lord was blessing. He had a good life, a good family and all was well. And then hard times, from the Lord, came upon him. It is a wonderful and yet difficult story to read. A story which speaks of the Lord allowing suffering to come into the life of a devoted follower of God.

Job 1:7
And the Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?” So Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.”

We see that Satan has a regular audience with God. We also see a confirmation of what we read in 1 Peter 5:8, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”

Job 1:12
And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

There is nothing the enemy can do to us but that the Lord allows it.

Job 1:20-21
Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

This is why Job was a righteous and blameless man. He trusted God with everything he had. It is one thing to say that we trust Him, but quite another to actually apply that trust in Him when difficult things come our way. Job recognizes that the Lord is in control of all things and that He and only He has the right to give…and also take away. May our attitude be the very same. Only by God’s strength is this possible.

Job 2:4-6
So Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. 5 But stretch out Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face!” 6 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand, but spare his life.”

The ultimate test of our faith is when our very own lives are in jeopardy. The enemy will stop at nothing and God will sometimes allow great pain to come our way. Our only hope in enduring such times is to look unto Jesus who is the author and finisher of our faith. When we do so, He alone gives us the strength we need to withstand the difficulty and the trials. To the apostle Paul Jesus said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”(2 Corinthians 12:9). Paul’s response was, “Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Job 2:9
Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!”

Even Job’s wife turns on him…how grieved he must have been.

Job 2:13
So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great.

Many times the best thing to say, when our friends are going through trials is…’nothng’. Unfortunately we will see that his friends could not remain silent and it ends up discouraging Job rather than encouraging him.

Esther 9-10, Acts 7

Esther 9:4
For Mordecai was great in the king’s palace, and his fame spread throughout all the provinces; for this man Mordecai became increasingly prominent.

I think is it so awesome how consistently we see the Lord exalt those who have been humble in their service to Him. James 4:10 reminds us of this spiritual truth, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”

Esther 9:15
And the Jews who were in Shushan gathered together again on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar and killed three hundred men at Shushan; but they did not lay a hand on the plunder.

Notice that each time it says, “they did not lay a hand on the plunder”. They were concerned for protecting their lives, not for getting as wealthy as they could. There is a big difference. We live in a fallen world, and there are times when it is necessary to protect ourselves from evil, even at the expense of the life of another.

Esther 9:19
Therefore the Jews of the villages who dwelt in the unwalled towns celebrated the fourteenth day of the month of Adar with gladness and feasting, as a holiday, and for sending presents to one another.

This is the Feast of Purim, that is celebrated by the Jews even to this day.

Esther 10:3
For Mordecai the Jew was second to King Ahasuerus, and was great among the Jews and well received by the multitude of his brethren, seeking the good of his people and speaking peace to all his countrymen.

Mordecai remained faithful to the Lord in caring for his brethren. He finished strong by seeking the good and peace of his people. A man who started with humble beginnings, ends up being second in command only to the king.

Acts 7:1
1 Then the high priest said, “Are these things so?”

This was an invitation, in the form of a question, for Stephen to address these religious rulers. He seizes the opportunity to preach the Gospel to them. Notice how he, like Peter, begins by addressing the heritage of their forefathers and what they believed and did.

Acts 7:37
37 “This is that Moses who said to the children of Israel, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear. ’

Stephen makes mention of the Messianic reference to Jesus. That prophet which he spoke of was none other than Jesus Christ the one for whom Stephen is about to die for. He was the first Christian martyr, put to death for his faith.

Acts 7:51-52
51 “ You stiff- necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. 52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers,

Now Stephen gets to the point, and it will infuriate the religious leaders. Truth will always infuriate people who wish to ignore it. However, the glorious and painful thing about truth is that ignoring it doesn’t make it go away.

Acts 7:55
But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God,

This is the only account in the Bible where we see Jesus standing at the right hand of God. All of the other references have Jesus sitting at the Father’s right hand. Why was Jesus standing? I believe it was to acknowledge that Stephen had done well, that he had fought the good fight and finished strong.

Esther 6-8, Acts 6

Esther 6:1
1 That night the king could not sleep. So one was commanded to bring the book of the records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king.

This is a very good thing to do when we cannot sleep. Read the Word! Psalms 119:148 tells us, “My eyes are awake through the night watches, That I may meditate on Your word.”

Esther 6:6
So Haman came in, and the king asked him, “What shall be done for the man whom the king delights to honor?” Now Haman thought in his heart, “Whom would the king delight to honor more than me?”

This is one of the most ironic twists in Scripture. You have heard of the saying, “What goes around, comes around.” This is precisely what happens to Haman. If it were not so tragic, it would be very humorous.

Esther 6:10
Then the king said to Haman, “Hurry, take the robe and the horse, as you have suggested, and do so for Mordecai the Jew who sits within the king’s gate! Leave nothing undone of all that you have spoken.”

One can only begin to imagine what as going on in Haman’s heart the moment he heard these words. He must have been shocked beyond comprehension.

Esther 7:8
When the king returned from the palace garden to the place of the banquet of wine, Haman had fallen across the couch where Esther was. Then the king said, “Will he also assault the queen while I am in the house?” As the word left the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face.

What a pitiful sight this must have been. Haman throwing himself on the couch like a spoiled child throwing a fit. And he brought it all upon himself because of his pride and hatred towards Haman. Unfortunately for Haman, we see that it was too late.

Esther 8:2
So the king took off his signet ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai; and Esther appointed Mordecai over the house of Haman.

We see a beautiful picture of of the spiritual truth that God honors the humble. Mordecai was a kind man, who loved his people. The Lord rewarded him for the kindness he showed towards the king. He was the opposite of Haman who was interested only in himself. There is much to be learned in this story about how the Lord blesses men and women of integrity. This was indeed the reason for which the Lord had brought Esther into the house of the king.

Acts 6:2
Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables.

It is in this chapter that we see the establishment of deacons in the early church. They are not called as such, but when looked at in context to other parts of Scripture, we can assume that this is whom Luke is writing about. The church had grown to the point where all of the attention of the apostles was being given to serving the people. While this is not a bad thing to do (to serve) it was not what the apostles needed to be devoting their time to. Their time was to be spent in prayer and the ministry of the Word.

Acts 6:5
And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch,

Why did this please ‘the whole multitude’? Because they knew that there was nothing more important than prayer and having the apostles minister the word to them. They knew that this was what they needed to remain continue to be healthy Christians.

Acts 6:7
Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.

The decision which the apostles made and the multitude agreed to proved to be a very good one. As a result, the word of God spread.

Acts 6:15
And all who sat in the council, looking steadfastly at him, saw his face as the face of an angel.

Stephen was one of the newly appointed deacons who was full of faith and the Holy Spirit. As a result, no one could deny his countenance. He exuded the joy and love of the Lord wherever he went. I pray that this would be the case for me. I want to be so full of faith and the Holy Spirit that others around me take notice and as a result are drawn to want to become a Christian.

Esther 3-5

Esther 3:2
And all the king’s servants who were within the king’s gate bowed and paid homage to Haman, for so the king had commanded concerning him. But Mordecai would not bow or pay homage.

When somebody is full of themselves, full of pride and everyone is acting like they are a god, they get extremely irritated when someone comes along who doesn’t necessarily agree with everyone else. Such is the case with Haman, he hates Mordecai because he will not pay homage to Haman like everyone else.

Esther 3:6
But he disdained to lay hands on Mordecai alone, for they had told him of the people of Mordecai. Instead, Haman sought to destroy all the Jews who were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus—the people of Mordecai.

Haman is so obsessed with hatred, that not only does he want to eliminate Mordecai, but the Jews as well. Over the years, there has been a hatred towards the Jews, God’s chosen people. And the primary reason this is the case, is because they hate God. I write this from Millstatt, Austria where we are staying at what is called ‘Schloss Heroldeck’. It is a castle type facility that overlooks an amazing lake and is believed to have been a place where Hitler would stay. It is hard to comprehend such hatred in the midst of such beauty.

Esther 3:15
The couriers went out, hastened by the king’s command; and the decree was proclaimed in Shushan the citadel. So the king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Shushan was perplexed.

It is not unusual for people to be perplexed by irrational behavior which is precisely what Haman’s behavior was.

Esther 4:13-14
And Mordecai told them to answer Esther: “Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. 14 For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

This bit of scripture is the most amazing part of this book. In it we see the providential hand of God at work. I love what Mordecai says here, “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” We must never question the time, the place or the situation that God has us in because the Lord always has something good in mind. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

Esther 4:16
“Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!”

What a beautiful picture of sacrificial love we see here. It is a picture of Jesus’s love for us. Esther is willing to die in the hopes that it might save her people.

Esther 5:9
9 So Haman went out that day joyful and with a glad heart; but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king’s gate, and that he did not stand or tremble before him, he was filled with indignation against Mordecai.

Haman is so full of himself that he doesn’t even begin to see what is coming his way.

Esther 1-2, Acts 5

Esther 1:1
1 Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus (this was the Ahasuerus who reigned over one hundred and twenty- seven provinces, from India to Ethiopia),

Ahasuerus was the king of Persia. The Book of Esther comes after the book of Nehemiah, but the events it describes took place about 30 years before Nehemiah. Esther became queen of Persia in 478 B.C. and saved the Jews from being massacred in 473 B.C.

Esther 1:8
In accordance with the law, the drinking was not compulsory; for so the king had ordered all the officers of his household, that they should do according to each man’s pleasure.

Without the Lord in our lives, we always will do things according to our pleasure, rather than the Lord’s pleasure. When we become Christians, we want to do things for his pleasure only.

Esther 1:17
For the queen’s behavior will become known to all women, so that they will despise their husbands in their eyes, when they report, ‘King Ahasuerus commanded Queen Vashti to be brought in before him, but she did not come. ’

We are naturally prone to worry about what others might think of us. The king has no consideration for how parading Vashti in front of his friends might make her feel, but only what they would think because she refused.

Esther 2:5
In Shushan the citadel there was a certain Jew whose name was Mordecai the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite.

As you consider this story, keep in mind how the Lord was working behind the scenes to take care of His people. I am certain that the Lord constantly works behind the scenes in order to make sure that we are taken care of. This story is a great reminder of this wonderful and comforting truth.

Esther 2:11
And every day Mordecai paced in front of the court of the women’s quarters, to learn of Esther’s welfare and what was happening to her.

You see the heart of Mordecai for Esther as he waits to hear how she is doing. No doubt he would have been very fearful for her.

Esther 2:18
Then the king made a great feast, the Feast of Esther, for all his officials and servants; and he proclaimed a holiday in the provinces and gave gifts according to the generosity of a king.

Today the Jews celebrate their ancestors deliverance during a feast they call, The Feast of Purim.

Acts 5:4-5
While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” 5 Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things.

The early church held all things in common, not by the Lord’s mandate, but rather out of their love for one another. We know this because no where in the New Testament was it written of as a continued practice. However, the sin of Ananias and Saphira, is that they pretended to have given all of the money and in so doing they lied to the Lord. Notice that it says, in lying to the Holy Spirit, they were lying to the Lord. This is one of the proof texts that the Holy Spirit is also God.

Acts 5:14-15
And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, 15 so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them.

Did Peter’s shadow have some sort of supernatural power? No, not at all. It was the faith of the people in the God whom Peter worshipped that brought healing to the people. Their supernatural faith was triggered by what they believed would happen. Faith is a powerful thing!

Acts 5:29
But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.

There is great pressure to follow men rather than God. Especially when we are surrounded by godless people. However, as Christians, we are called to always follow God…no matter what! Peter understood what it meant to deny the Lord (three times). He would never do that again.

Acts 5:38-39
And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; 39 but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it—lest you even be found to fight against God.”

Gamaliel was wise enough to understand the difference between a work of man and a work of God. He knew that to try to stop a work that God was doing, was a exercise in futility. How exciting it is to know that His work is continuing even to this very day…and will continue forever more!

Nehemiah 12-13

Nehemiah 12:12
During the reign of Darius the Persian, a record was also kept of the Levites and priests who had been heads of their fathers’ houses in the days of Eliashib, Joiada, Johanan, and Jaddua.

There are a number of kings names Darius in the Old Testament. Some are of opinion that the name “Darius” is simply a name of office, equivalent to ‘governor’.

Nehemiah 12:43
Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and the children also rejoiced, so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard afar off.

What a great day in the Lord this would have been! I love the picture here of the joyful celebration of praise and thanksgiving, along with the children rejoicing. There is nothing quite the joy of children to minister to our hearts.

Nehemiah 12:46
For in the days of David and Asaph of old there were chiefs of the singers, and songs of praise and thanksgiving to God.

It seems that this would be the equivalent to our modern day worship leaders. Worship is such a blessed part of our relationship with the Lord. This past Sunday, I taught at Calvary Chapel Cakovec, in Croatia. The worship team was awesome and to listen to the people sing in their native tongue was a real blessing. You could just tell that the Lord was there. The Bible says that the Lord dwells in the praise and worship of His people. I could certainly tell that this was true!

Nehemiah 13:1
On that day they read from the Book of Moses in the hearing of the people, and in it was found written that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever come into the assembly of God,

A part of the praise and worship was the reading of the Word. Worship in an important part of our relationship with the Lord, but it must never replace the study of God’s word. It prepares our heart to speak to us through His word.

Nehemiah 13:6
But during all this I was not in Jerusalem, for in the thirty- second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I had returned to the king. Then after certain days I obtained leave from the king,

Remember from the first part of Nehemiah that he had asked to leave for a certain period of time. Here we see when it is that he had told the king he would return. It was after his return that the king gave him his final leave.

Nehemiah 13:9
9 Then I commanded them to cleanse the rooms; and I brought back into them the articles of the house of God, with the grain offering and the frankincense.

There is no place in the house of God for sinful and evil things. When Nehemiah saw what Eliashib had allowed Tobiah to bring into the house of God, he had it all thrown out. The Lord does not take lightly when we try to mix the things of the world with Him. Remember when Jesus through the money changers and merchandisers out of the temple area? He cried out, “You have turned my Father’s house into a den of thieves.” The things of God and the things of this world will never mix and therefore we must never try to mix them.

Nehemiah 13:13
And I appointed as treasurers over the storehouse Shelemiah the priest and Zadok the scribe, and of the Levites, Pedaiah; and next to them was Hanan the son of Zaccur, the son of Mattaniah; for they were considered faithful, and their task was to distribute to their brethren.

A natural part of the church should be providing for our own. We see this here as well as throughout the New Testament. In particular we read about this distribution of goods in Acts 6.

Nehemiah 13:30-31
Thus I cleansed them of everything pagan. I also assigned duties to the priests and the Levites, each to his service, 31 and to bringing the wood offering and the firstfruits at appointed times.
Remember me, O my God, for good!

Nehemiah was a great leader because he never compromised. He well understood the problems that compromise caused and did whatever he needed to do to bring the people back to the Lord. It will always be our tendency to wander from the Lord and to want to do our own thing. We must fight against every temptation to do such a thing. One of the ways we do that, is to come under the leadership of good leaders who are never afraid to tell us the truth.

Nehemiah 10-11, Acts 4

Nehemiah 10:28-29
Now the rest of the people—the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the Nethinim, and all those who had separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to the Law of God, their wives, their sons, and their daughters, everyone who had knowledge and understanding— 29 these joined with their brethren, their nobles, and entered into a curse and an oath to walk in God’s Law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the Lord our Lord, and His ordinances and His statutes:

I love the word ‘sanctified’ because it means to be ‘set apart’. The Israelites were ‘set part’ by their decision to follow the Law of God. They were committed to observing and doing all the commandments of their Lord. In the same manner, when we become Christians, we are sanctified…set apart by His blood and seek to follow all His ways. The more I realize how messed up this world is, the more I appreciate how set apart I am from the world.

Nehemiah 11:1
1 Now the leaders of the people dwelt at Jerusalem; the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of ten to dwell in Jerusalem, the holy city, and nine-tenths were to dwell in other cities.

Not all of the people lived in Jerusalem, only one tenth of them did. The rest lived in other cities. Sometimes, as Christians, we just want to hang out with other Christians and wait until the Lord comes back. However, we can’t be light to a dark world, and salt to a flavorless world if we isolate ourselves. Like the Israelites in Nehemiah’s time…some of us may be called to focus on ministering within the walls, to the church and other Christians. However…a larger portion of us are called to be light and salt to the world. The key to effectively doing this, is to make sure that we are not being contaminated by the world. We do this by making sure that we are abiding in Jesus, every single day.

Acts 4:1-2
1 Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, 2 being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.

People are fine hearing about Jesus until you start speaking of His death and resurrection. Why is that? Because you cannot talk about His death, without talking about the sin which put Him to death. And, you cannot talk about the power of his death without talking about the fact that He rose from the dead. With out the death and resurrection of Jesus…He was merely a teacher who said a bunch of nice things rather than the Lamb of God who was put to death for the sin of the world.

Acts 4:12
12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

We must pay very close attention to verses such as these. Jesus made it very clear that the path to Him is very narrow and the path to destruction is very wide (Matthew 7:13). People always want to broaden the road to heaven, but Jesus made it clear that you cannot do that. It is verses like this one here that narrow the road among people who want to widen it. Indeed, Jesus is the only way and ‘there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved’. We must never waiver from this truth.

Acts 4:13
13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.

The best way to grow in our boldness for the Gospel, is to hang out with Jesus. How do we do that? We read and meditate on His word and then we pray and wait on the Holy Spirit to reveal truth about Jesus to us. When are consistent in doing this, we will find that our confidence and boldness to live for Jesus is automatically there.

Acts 4:14
14 And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.

The greatest proof that Jesus is who He is the miracle of a transformed life. Whenever doubt comes about what God is able to accomplish in my life, I simply think about what He has already accomplished. I think about what a wretch I was until Jesus saved me. When I do that, there is nothing that anyone could ever say to convince me that everything Jesus ever said…isn’t real.

Acts 4:29
29 Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word,

I love how they pray for boldness rather than cower before the enemy. I pray that the Lord would give me such boldness, that I might always be willing to proclaim His word.