Day 258 September 15
11 Then the Lord said to me: Unfaithful Israel is less guilty than disloyal Judah. 12 Go proclaim these words to the north and say:
Return, unfaithful Israel,
declares the Lord.
I won’t reject you,
for I’m faithful,
declares the Lord;
I won’t stay angry forever.
13 Only acknowledge your wrongdoing:
how you have rebelled against the Lord your God,
and given yourself to strangers
under every lush tree
and haven’t obeyed me,
declares the Lord.
14 Return, rebellious children,
declares the Lord,
for I’m your husband.
I’ll gather you—
one from a city and two from a tribe—
and bring you back to Zion.
15 I will appoint shepherds with whom I’m pleased, and they will lead you with knowledge and understanding. 16 And in those days, when your numbers have greatly increased in the land, declares the Lord, people will no longer talk about the Lord’s covenant chest; they won’t recall or remember it; they won’t even miss it or try to build another one. 17 At that time, they will call Jerusalem the Lord’s throne, and all nations will gather there to honor the Lord’s name. No longer will they follow their own willful and evil hearts. 18 In those days the people of Judah and Israel will leave the north together for the land that I gave their ancestors as an inheritance.
Comment: the heart of God is a beautiful thing!
14-16 Jesus delivered a man from a demon that had kept him speechless. The demon gone, the man started talking a blue streak, taking the crowd by complete surprise. But some from the crowd were cynical. “Black magic,” they said. “Some devil trick he’s pulled from his sleeve.” Others were skeptical, waiting around for him to prove himself with a spectacular miracle.
17-20 Jesus knew what they were thinking and said, “Any country in civil war for very long is wasted. A constantly squabbling family falls to pieces. If Satan cancels Satan, is there any Satan left? You accuse me of ganging up with the Devil, the prince of demons, to cast out demons, but if you’re slinging devil mud at me, calling me a devil who kicks out devils, doesn’t the same mud stick to your own exorcists? But if it’s God’s finger I’m pointing that sends the demons on their way, then God’s kingdom is here for sure.
21-22 “When a strong man, armed to the teeth, stands guard in his front yard, his property is safe and sound. But what if a stronger man comes along with superior weapons? Then he’s beaten at his own game, the arsenal that gave him such confidence hauled off, and his precious possessions plundered.
23 “This is war, and there is no neutral ground. If you’re not on my side, you’re the enemy; if you’re not helping, you’re making things worse.
24-26 “When a corrupting spirit is expelled from someone, it drifts along through the desert looking for an oasis, some unsuspecting soul it can bedevil. When it doesn’t find anyone, it says, ‘I’ll go back to my old haunt.’ On return, it finds the person swept and dusted, but vacant. It then runs out and rounds up seven other spirits dirtier than itself and they all move in, whooping it up. That person ends up far worse than if he’d never gotten cleaned up in the first place.”
27 While he was saying these things, some woman lifted her voice above the murmur of the crowd: “Blessed the womb that carried you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” 28 Jesus commented, “Even more blessed are those who hear God’s Word and guard it with their lives!”
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Praise for Spiritual Blessings in Christ
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
Comment: predestination is an ancient theology coming out of this passage: God planned on adopting us as children through Jesus Christ, God predestined Jesus to do this for everyone. In life and in death we belong to God, through forgiveness of sins by God’s grace. On the cross Jesus said: “It is finished!” Thank you Jesus!
Comment: the voice in Ephesians may not be Paul’s but it belongs to his students or disciples as the writer intentionally uses Paul’s pastoral tone. Thus it is called part of the pastoral letters in scripture.
Prayer: bring the unity of all things into being Lord, and let it begin with me. Amen.