Today's Reading: Psalm 117, Leviticus 23, Isaiah 29:1‐30:17, Ephesians 2
Psalm 117 - 1 Praise the Lord, all nations! Extol him, all peoples! - This short psalm is a beautiful example from the Old Testament of God's plan to open salvation up to all who would trust in Him. My study Bible says that Paul quoted this verse in Romans 15:11 to help argue his point that Jewish and Gentile Christians should welcome one another and worship together. I'm grateful for these encouraging words.
Leviticus 23 - This is a beautiful chapter in that it outlines the feasts that the Jewish people were to observe. These feasts are still observed across the Jewish world. I love that the weekly Sabbath was the first of those feasts that God gave instruction about. It is important to Him that we keep His Sabbath Day holy.
Isaiah 29:1‐30:17 - 13 And the Lord said:“Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me,and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men, 14therefore, behold,I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.” 15Ah,you who hide deep from the Lord your counsel, whose deeds are in the dark, and who say, “Who sees us? Who knows us?” 16You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”?
These are powerful words of warning to those who honor God with their lips but have hearts that are far from Him. Jesus used these very words to describe a group of Pharisees and Scribes in the New Testament (see Matthew 15:8-9). May He not have to say the same of us!
Ephesians 2 - 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Paul begins this section of his letter to the Ephesians by reminding them of their life before Christ, which he describes as being dead in trespasses and sin. And then, in such stunningly beautiful words Paul writes about the riches of God's grace. God's grace is a gift. We can't earn it. We don't deserve it. And that is what is so wonderful about it.