Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.”
He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.
Acts 28:28-31 ESV

Bob Deffinbaugh comments on the ending of the book of Acts:

One final word about the supposedly “sudden and abrupt” ending of the Book of Acts. Many have noted the unusual ending of Acts. Some have explained this ending by suggesting that Luke intended to write yet another volume. I think that the ending of Acts is both beautiful, and enlightening. Consider with me the way that Luke ends this work as we conclude this message.

There are some very obvious facts that are not given to us in Acts before the book ends. We are not told of Paul’s fate, or of the outcome of his trial. We are not told of the fall of Jerusalem. We are left without any word on these matters, matters which we would very much like to know more about.

I am not inclined to believe that Luke omitted these things because they had not yet happened, though this may be the case. If they had not yet happened, they would take place very soon after the Book of Acts came to a close. Regardless of the reasons why more information is not included, it was not included, and this must be in accordance with the purposes of God, and especially His purposes for this book.

Luke does tell us that “two full years” passed, during which Paul was free to proclaim the gospel and to minister to all who came to him (28:30-31). The expression “two full years” suggests to me that Luke may have known the outcome of Paul’s trial, and also of the fate of Israel and Jerusalem. If so, he did not include them in his book. Why not?

I think I know the answer, an answer which should prove to be very enlightening to each and every Christian today. Luke’s purpose was not to provide us with a book that has a “happily ever after” ending. Much of our uneasiness with the ending of Acts is that we don’t have a fairy tale conclusion. What Luke does tell us, however, is that the gospel was proclaimed to the “remotest part of the earth” just as Jesus had said (see Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts 1:6-8). It is the progress of the proclamation of the gospel which is foremost in Luke’s mind, and the Book of Acts makes this progress very clear.

To read the rest of the commentary on Acts 28, click here:

J.C. Ryle, at Grace Gems:

Is not every fruitless professor of Christianity in dreadful danger of becoming a withered fig-tree? There can be no doubt of it. So long as a man is content with the leaves of religion–with a name to live while he is dead, and a form of godliness without the power–so long his soul is in great peril. So long as he is satisfied with going to church or chapel, and receiving the Lord’s supper, and being called a Christian, while his heart is not changed, and his sins not forsaken–so long he is daily provoking God to cut him off without remedy. Fruit, fruit–the fruit of the Spirit, is the only sure proof that we are savingly united to Christ, and in the way to heaven. May this sink down into our hearts, and never be forgotten!

Clap your hands, all peoples!
Shout to God with loud songs of joy!
For the LORD, the Most High, is to be feared,
a great king over all the earth.
(Psalm 47:1-2 ESV)

Spurgeon on Psalm 47:

Our God is no local deity, no petty ruler of a tribe; in infinite majesty he rules the mightiest realm as absolute arbiter of destiny, sole monarch of all lands, King of kings, and Lord of lords. Not a hamlet or an islet is excluded from his dominion. How glorious will that era be when this is seen and known of all; when in the person of Jesus all flesh shall behold the glory of the Lord!

Sam Storms, in his “Meditations on the Psalms” series writes of Psalm 46-

Ein feste burg ist unser Gott! Say what? Well, that’s how Martin Luther would have written it in his famous hymn:

“A mighty fortress is our God,

A bulwark never failing;

He, amid the flood

Of mortal ills prevailing.”

There can be no doubt but that Luther’s sturdy, unshakeable, unflappable confidence in God as his refuge, his strength, his mighty, impenetrable fortress is what ultimately accounted for what he was able to accomplish in bringing about what we know as the Protestant Reformation.

The same could easily be said of Elijah, as he faced the treachery of Ahab and Jezebel and the prophets of Baal.

The same could be said of Daniel, as he fearlessly confronted the power and pressures that came from Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar.

And what was it that empowered the Apostle Paul as he stood in the presence of his Jewish persecutors or his Roman captors? The same God, who for all of these folk proved himself to be a mighty fortress, a bulwark never failing.

Don’t let the fame of these people suggest that God is any less a mighty fortress for you in the midst of your daily struggles or the minor trials that come your way. Psalm 46 is a powerful word of encouragement for the Christian troubled by the lingering memory of a moral lapse, or the parent in agony over the rebellion of a teenage son or daughter. This is a message of hope for the believer who lost his job because he refused to compromise his integrity, as well as the woman who lost her husband to cancer. This is a psalm for you, no less than for the OT Israelite, such that you can confidently declare:

“The Lord of hosts is with us [ME]; the God of Jacob is our [MY] fortress” (v. 7)….

……This God, dear friend, “is with us [YOU]” (v. 11a). This God “is our [YOUR] fortress” (v. 11a).

Not even Martin Luther was immune to depression and frustration and fear. When he came face to face with his enemies, he would often turn to his young friend and co-worker, Philip Melancthon, and say: “Philip, let us sing forth the forty-sixth Psalm.” And this is how it sounded:

“A sure stronghold our God is He,

A timely shield and weapon;

Our help he’ll be, and set us free

From every ill can happen.

And were the world with devils filled,

All eager to devour us,

Our souls to fear shall little yield,

They cannot overpower us.”

To read the rest of the article by Sam Storms at Enjoying God Ministries, click here:

We have come to the FINAL day in Leviticus!  Coty Pinckney wraps up our read-through with a challenge to see two big questions in Leviticus 26, “Who is GOD? ….and Who am I?”

We have seen that the book of Leviticus is not, as is so commonly thought, a book which lays down the law, saying, “Step over this line and I will zap you!” Instead the entire first half of the book details God’s provisions for the Israelites, God’s answer to every need of the Israelites, through the sacrifices and the priesthood. We have seen how God’s plan all along was to create “a people for his own dear possession,” a people to love and to cherish. We have seen that the sacrificial system is not a way of earning one’s salvation, but rather God’s gracious provision for dealing with the Israelites’ inability to keep all the law. The entire system is a picture of God’s grace,  foreshadowing all that Christ accomplished for us on the cross.

That is the message of the first half of Leviticus: God has chosen you as his people, God has provided for your every need, he overcomes your every weakness, so that you might become his dear possession.

The second half of the book asks: If this is so, if God has set us apart for this special purpose, how should we then live? And the answer is: This privilege is so great, that our character must become like God’s character. He has chosen us, he has given us every provision to make up for our weaknesses. Our responsibility — as pictured in the Sabbath — is to actively depend on him so that we might become what he intends us to be. Rest in him, in his power, turning our thoughts and attention to Him, every minute of every day.

Like most of Leviticus, the passage we consider today is frequently misunderstood. A quick reading gives the impression that God is telling the Israelites, “Obey me and I will bless you; disobey me and I will curse you.” But God here is not concerned with outward obedience to a set of rules. In this chapter, the Lord tells the Israelites who he is, and presents them with two choices for what they might become. Given all the provisions he has made, as detailed in the first 25 chapters of the book, he asks: “Are you going to be all I intend you to be, all I enable you to be? Are you going to be a holy, special people for my own dear possession? Or will you reject me and abhor me? The answer to that question determines your destiny.”

Similarly, the question for us this morning is: Who are you? Who are you?…..

WHO GOD IS

Look at verses 13, 44, and 45 of Leviticus 26. Recall that the word “Lord” printed in all caps is a substitution for the name of God, pronounced something like “Yahweh.” This name connotes the covenant relationship between Israel and God, so permit me to make that substitution as I read:

I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high  I am Yahweh their God. But for their sake I will remember the covenant with their ancestors whom I brought out of Egypt in the sight of the nations to be their God. I am Yahweh.

God here emphasizes his relationship to these people. He says, “I am your God. I remember my promises. I took you out of slavery, I broke the power of the forces that controlled you. So do not choose to be a slave again! I enabled you to walk with your head held high — so don’t return to the disgrace of your former life! You are mine, you are special — so live up to that calling!”Furthermore, note that God says he brought the Israelites out of Egypt “in the sight of the nations.” God has chosen these people in order not only to save them, but also to display His glory, to show His character to all of creation. The actions of the people of Israel bring glory — or dishonor — to the very name of God! This is further incentive for the people to live up to their calling.Our situation is similar. God says we are his own dear children: How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1 NIV) We belong to Him, we are his family. He rescued us from slavery, and enables us to walk with heads held high. We are the family of God! And he has done this, in part, to display his wisdom and grace to all of creation, including his enemies (Ephesians 3:10). What we do brings honor or dishonor to our God, our Father.

To read the rest of the sermon, click here:

February 25

Acts 28:17-31 (ESV)

Paul in Rome

17 After three days he called together the local leaders of the Jews, and when they had gathered, he said to them, “Brothers, though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. 18 When they had examined me, they wished to set me at liberty, because there was no reason for the death penalty in my case. 19 But because the Jews objected, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar—though I had no charge to bring against my nation. 20 For this reason, therefore, I have asked to see you and speak with you, since it is because of the hope of Israel that I am wearing this chain.” 21 And they said to him, “We have received no letters from Judea about you, and none of the brothers coming here has reported or spoken any evil about you. 22 But we desire to hear from you what your views are, for with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against.”

23 When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. 24 And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved. 25 And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet:

26 “‘Go to this people, and say,
You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.
27 For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed;
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.’

28 Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.” [1]

30 He lived there two whole years at his own expense, [2] and welcomed all who came to him, 31 proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.

February 25

Matthew 21:12-22 (ESV)

Jesus Cleanses the Temple

12 And Jesus entered the temple [1] and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 13 He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”

14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, 16 and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read,

“‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies
you have prepared praise’?”

17 And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there.

Jesus Curses the Fig Tree

18 In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry. 19 And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once.

20 When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” 21 And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. 22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

February 25

Psalm 47 (ESV)

God Is King over All the Earth

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.

47:1 Clap your hands, all peoples!
Shout to God with loud songs of joy!
For the Lord, the Most High, is to be feared,
a great king over all the earth.
He subdued peoples under us,
and nations under our feet.
He chose our heritage for us,
the pride of Jacob whom he loves. Selah

God has gone up with a shout,
the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praises to God, sing praises!
Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
For God is the King of all the earth;
sing praises with a psalm! [1]

God reigns over the nations;
God sits on his holy throne.
The princes of the peoples gather
as the people of the God of Abraham.
For the shields of the earth belong to God;
he is highly exalted!

February 25

Leviticus 26-27 (ESV)

Blessings for Obedience

26:1 “You shall not make idols for yourselves or erect an image or pillar, and you shall not set up a figured stone in your land to bow down to it, for I am the Lord your God. You shall keep my Sabbaths and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord.

“If you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them, then I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. Your threshing shall last to the time of the grape harvest, and the grape harvest shall last to the time for sowing. And you shall eat your bread to the full and dwell in your land securely. I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid. And I will remove harmful beasts from the land, and the sword shall not go through your land. You shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall chase ten thousand, and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword. I will turn to you and make you fruitful and multiply you and will confirm my covenant with you. 10 You shall eat old store long kept, and you shall clear out the old to make way for the new. 11 I will make my dwelling [1] among you, and my soul shall not abhor you. 12 And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people. 13 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that you should not be their slaves. And I have broken the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect.

Punishment for Disobedience

14 “But if you will not listen to me and will not do all these commandments, 15 if you spurn my statutes, and if your soul abhors my rules, so that you will not do all my commandments, but break my covenant, 16 then I will do this to you: I will visit you with panic, with wasting disease and fever that consume the eyes and make the heart ache. And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. 17 I will set my face against you, and you shall be struck down before your enemies. Those who hate you shall rule over you, and you shall flee when none pursues you. 18 And if in spite of this you will not listen to me, then I will discipline you again sevenfold for your sins, 19 and I will break the pride of your power, and I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze. 20 And your strength shall be spent in vain, for your land shall not yield its increase, and the trees of the land shall not yield their fruit.

21 “Then if you walk contrary to me and will not listen to me, I will continue striking you, sevenfold for your sins. 22 And I will let loose the wild beasts against you, which shall bereave you of your children and destroy your livestock and make you few in number, so that your roads shall be deserted.

23 “And if by this discipline you are not turned to me but walk contrary to me, 24 then I also will walk contrary to you, and I myself will strike you sevenfold for your sins. 25 And I will bring a sword upon you, that shall execute vengeance for the covenant. And if you gather within your cities, I will send pestilence among you, and you shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy. 26 When I break your supply [2] of bread, ten women shall bake your bread in a single oven and shall dole out your bread again by weight, and you shall eat and not be satisfied.

27 “But if in spite of this you will not listen to me, but walk contrary to me, 28 then I will walk contrary to you in fury, and I myself will discipline you sevenfold for your sins. 29 You shall eat the flesh of your sons, and you shall eat the flesh of your daughters. 30 And I will destroy your high places and cut down your incense altars and cast your dead bodies upon the dead bodies of your idols, and my soul will abhor you. 31 And I will lay your cities waste and will make your sanctuaries desolate, and I will not smell your pleasing aromas. 32 And I myself will devastate the land, so that your enemies who settle in it shall be appalled at it. 33 And I will scatter you among the nations, and I will unsheathe the sword after you, and your land shall be a desolation, and your cities shall be a waste.

34 “Then the land shall enjoy [3] its Sabbaths as long as it lies desolate, while you are in your enemies’ land; then the land shall rest, and enjoy its Sabbaths. 35 As long as it lies desolate it shall have rest, the rest that it did not have on your Sabbaths when you were dwelling in it. 36 And as for those of you who are left, I will send faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies. The sound of a driven leaf shall put them to flight, and they shall flee as one flees from the sword, and they shall fall when none pursues. 37 They shall stumble over one another, as if to escape a sword, though none pursues. And you shall have no power to stand before your enemies. 38 And you shall perish among the nations, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up. 39 And those of you who are left shall rot away in your enemies’ lands because of their iniquity, and also because of the iniquities of their fathers they shall rot away like them.

40 “But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers in their treachery that they committed against me, and also in walking contrary to me, 41 so that I walked contrary to them and brought them into the land of their enemies—if then their uncircumcised heart is humbled and they make amends for their iniquity, 42 then I will remember my covenant with Jacob, and I will remember my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land. 43 But the land shall be abandoned by them and enjoy its Sabbaths while it lies desolate without them, and they shall make amends for their iniquity, because they spurned my rules and their soul abhorred my statutes. 44 Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not spurn them, neither will I abhor them so as to destroy them utterly and break my covenant with them, for I am the Lord their God. 45 But I will for their sake remember the covenant with their forefathers, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God: I am the Lord.”

46 These are the statutes and rules and laws that the Lord made between himself and the people of Israel through Moses on Mount Sinai.

Laws About Vows

27:1 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, If anyone makes a special vow to the Lord involving the valuation of persons, then the valuation of a male from twenty years old up to sixty years old shall be fifty shekels [4] of silver, according to the shekel of the sanctuary. If the person is a female, the valuation shall be thirty shekels. If the person is from five years old up to twenty years old, the valuation shall be for a male twenty shekels, and for a female ten shekels. If the person is from a month old up to five years old, the valuation shall be for a male five shekels of silver, and for a female the valuation shall be three shekels of silver. And if the person is sixty years old or over, then the valuation for a male shall be fifteen shekels, and for a female ten shekels. And if someone is too poor to pay the valuation, then he shall be made to stand before the priest, and the priest shall value him; the priest shall value him according to what the vower can afford.

“If the vow [5] is an animal that may be offered as an offering to the Lord, all of it that he gives to the Lord is holy. 10 He shall not exchange it or make a substitute for it, good for bad, or bad for good; and if he does in fact substitute one animal for another, then both it and the substitute shall be holy. 11 And if it is any unclean animal that may not be offered as an offering to the Lord, then he shall stand the animal before the priest,12 and the priest shall value it as either good or bad; as the priest values it, so it shall be. 13 But if he wishes to redeem it, he shall add a fifth to the valuation.

14 “When a man dedicates his house as a holy gift to the Lord, the priest shall value it as either good or bad; as the priest values it, so it shall stand. 15 And if the donor wishes to redeem his house, he shall add a fifth to the valuation price, and it shall be his.

16 “If a man dedicates to the Lord part of the land that is his possession, then the valuation shall be in proportion to its seed. A homer [6] of barley seed shall be valued at fifty shekels of silver. 17 If he dedicates his field from the year of jubilee, the valuation shall stand, 18 but if he dedicates his field after the jubilee, then the priest shall calculate the price according to the years that remain until the year of jubilee, and a deduction shall be made from the valuation. 19 And if he who dedicates the field wishes to redeem it, then he shall add a fifth to its valuation price, and it shall remain his. 20 But if he does not wish to redeem the field, or if he has sold the field to another man, it shall not be redeemed anymore.21 But the field, when it is released in the jubilee, shall be a holy gift to the Lord, like a field that has been devoted. The priest shall be in possession of it. 22 If he dedicates to the Lord a field that he has bought, which is not a part of his possession, 23 then the priest shall calculate the amount of the valuation for it up to the year of jubilee, and the man shall give the valuation on that day as a holy gift to the Lord24 In the year of jubilee the field shall return to him from whom it was bought, to whom the land belongs as a possession. 25 Every valuation shall be according to the shekel of the sanctuary: twenty gerahs [7] shall make a shekel.

26 “But a firstborn of animals, which as a firstborn belongs to the Lord, no man may dedicate; whether ox or sheep, it is the Lord‘s. 27 And if it is an unclean animal, then he shall buy it back at the valuation, and add a fifth to it; or, if it is not redeemed, it shall be sold at the valuation.

28 “But no devoted thing that a man devotes to the Lord, of anything that he has, whether man or beast, or of his inherited field, shall be sold or redeemed; every devoted thing is most holy to the Lord29 No one devoted, who is to be devoted for destruction [8] from mankind, shall be ransomed; he shall surely be put to death.

30 “Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the Lord‘s; it is holy to the Lord31 If a man wishes to redeem some of his tithe, he shall add a fifth to it. 32 And every tithe of herds and flocks, every tenth animal of all that pass under the herdsman’s staff, shall be holy to the Lord33 One shall not differentiate between good or bad, neither shall he make a substitute for it; and if he does substitute for it, then both it and the substitute shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.”

34 These are the commandments that the Lord commanded Moses for the people of Israel on Mount Sinai.

In recent years, BASE Institute has been involved in painstaking research into Luke’s amazingly detailed account of Paul’s voyage and shipwreck off the coast of Malta, as recorded in Acts 27-28. This is exciting confirmation of the accuracy and truth in the Bible.

In approximately 60 A.D., a ship carrying 276 men and a cargo of grain shipwrecked off the coast of Malta. Two of the passengers on that ship were the biblical writers Paul and Luke, who were on their way to Rome–Paul as a prisoner, and Luke as his attending physician and friend. Through Luke’s meticulously-detailed account of the voyage and shipwreck, as recorded in Acts chapter 27, we can today undertake a journey back in time to find the remains of that shipwreck. And, even more precisely, we can attempt to find the four anchors described in the Bible that were abandoned in the sea.

“When it was day, they did not recognize the land; but they observed a bay with a beach, onto which they planned to run the ship if possible. And they let go the anchors and left them in the sea, meanwhile loosing the rudder ropes; and they hoisted the mainsail to the wind and made for shore. But striking a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the prow stuck fast and remained immovable, but the stern was being broken up by the violence of the waves” (Acts 27:39-41).

For the past 500 years, tradition has held that the shipwreck of Paul occurred at St. Paul’s Bay on the northeast shore of Malta, a view held by the people of Malta today. But the biblical narrative and geography of the Mediterranean and Malta tell us that the site of the shipwreck must be located somewhere other than the traditional site, where no physical evidence has been found to-date, in spite of extensive research and exploration.

In order to solve this biblical mystery, we need to review the biblical narrative written by Luke. Luke was a trusted historian and medical professional, whose careful attention to detail will prove invaluable in our quest. Eventhough Luke uses nautical terms which were understood at the time but have vague meaning today, extensive research involving weather, ocean topography, landmarks, and maritime lore, gives us a well-defined path of the ship that the Apostle Paul was sailing on in the Mediterranean Sea….

Here is the conclusion at the Base Institute website:

All of these factors, taken together, argue convincingly not only that today’s St. Thomas’ Bay is the correct site of Paul’s shipwreck, but also, that the four anchors recently retrieved from those waters were the very anchors mentioned in Acts 27. As such, that one anchor may well be the only artifact mentioned in the New Testament that has been recovered and preserved in our era–nearly two thousand years after the fact.

To order the book “The Lost Shipwreck of Paul”, click here:

[Bob Cornuke can be contacted at the Biblical Archaeology Search & Exploration (BASE) Institute: (719) 540-9799 or www.baseinstitute.org.]