Connect The Testaments

June 28: Meet and Greet

Esther 1:1–2:23; 2 John 7–13; Psalm 116:1–19

“If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house and do not speak a greeting to him, because the one who speaks a greeting to him shares in his evil deeds” (2 John 9–11).

This passage is sometimes used as support for forming exclusive communities—ones that don’t interact with people who don’t believe in the gospel or who have a different faith. Based on this passage, some believe that we as Christians are not permitted to interact with nonbelievers. Is that what John is really teaching?

John issued this warning during a time when false teachers were spreading confusing doctrines about Christ. He exhorted believers to “test the spirits” to see if these teachers were actually from God (1 John 4:1). They would know if these teachers were from God if they confessed the true message of Jesus Christ—specifically that He had come in the flesh and was from God (1 John 2:1).

John wanted the community to be aware of false teachings so they wouldn’t become confused or weakened in their faith. We, too, need to be intentional about the teaching we adhere to. If we are weak and troubled in our faith, we should seek out mature believers who can teach and minister to us. However, if we are confident in our faith, we should be ready and willing to share the message of salvation with those who need to hear it—both inside and outside our communities.

How are you sharing the gospel with those who need to receive it?

REBECCA VAN NOORD

EZC

  • In the days of Ahasuerus (this is Ahasuerus that reigned from India even unto Ethiopia, over an hundred, and seven and twenty provinces.) In those days when the king Ahasuerus sat on his throne, which was in the palace of Shushan, In the third year of his reign, he made a feast unto all his princes and his servants, even the power of Persia and Media, and to the captains and governors of the provinces which were before him, That he might show the riches and glory of his kingdom, and the honor of his great majesty many days, even an hundred and fourscore days. And when these days were expired, the king made a feast to all the peole that were found in the palace of Shushan, both unto great and small, seven days in the ocurt of the garden of the king’s palace, Under an hanging of white, green, and blue cloths, fastened with cords of fine linen and purple, in silver rings, and pillars of marble: the beds were of gold and of silver upon a pavement of porphyry, and marble and alabaster, and blue color. And they gave them drink in vessels of gold, and changed vessel after vessel, and royal wine in abundance, according to the power of the king. And the drinking was by an order, none might compel: for so the king had appointed unto all the officers of the his house, that they should do according to every man’s pleasure. The Queen Vashti made a feast also for the women in the royal house of King Ahasuerus. Upon the seventh day when the King was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, and Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, the seven eunuchs, (that served in the presence of king Ahasuerus) To bring Queen Vashti before the king with the crown royal, that he might show the people and the princes her beauty: for she was fair to look upon. But the Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s word, which he had given in charge of the eunuchs: therefore the King was very angry, and his wrath kindled in him. Then the King said to the wise men, that knew the times (for so was the King’s manner towards all that knew the law and the judgment: And the next unto him was Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshiah, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan the seven Princes of Persia, and Media, which saw the King’s face, and sat the first in the kingdom.) What shall we do unto the Queen Vashti according to the law, because she did not according to the word of the King Ahasuerus by the commission of the eunuchs? Then Memucan answered before the king and the Princes, The Queen Vashti hath not only done evil against the King, but against all the Princes, and against all the people that are in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus. For the act of the Queen shall come abroad unto all women, so that they shall despise their husbands in their own eyes, and shall say, The King Ahasuerus commanded Vashti the Queen to be brought in before him, but she came not. So shall the Princesses of Persia and Media this day say unto all the King’s Princes, when they hear of the act of the Queen: thus shall there be much despitefulness and wrath. If it please the King, let a royal decree proceed from him, and let it be written among the statutes of Persia and Media (and let it not be transgressed) that Vashti come no more before king Ahasuerus: and let the king give her royal estate unto her companion that is better than she. And when the decree of the King which shall be made, shall be published throughout all his kingdom (though it be great) all the women shall give their husbands honor, both great and small. And this saying pleased the King and the Princes, and the King did according to the word of Memucan. For he sent letter into all the provinces of the King, into every province according to the writing thereof, and to every people after their language, that every man should bear rule in his own house, and that he should publish it in the language of that same people. Esther 1:1–2:23
  • For many deceivers are entered into this world, which confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. He that is such one, is a deceiver and an Antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we lose not the things which we have done, but that we may receive a full reward. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that continueth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not to house, neither bid him Godspeed. For he that biddeth him Godspeed, is partaker of his evil deeds. Although I had many things to writ eunto you, yet would I not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak mouth to mouth, that our joy may be full. The sons of thine elect sister gree thee, Amen2 John 7–12 (original source indicates a v. 13, but my 1560 nor 1599 Geneva conclude at v. 12)
  • I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my prayers. For he hath inclined his ear unto me, when I did call upon him in my days. When the snares of death compassed me, and the griefs of the grave caught me: When I found trouble and sorrow. Then I called upon the Name of the Lord, saying, I beseech thee, O Lord, deliver my soul. The Lord is merciful and righteous, and our God is full of compassion. The Lord preserveth the simple: I was in misery, and he saved me. Return unto thy rest, O my soul: for the Lord hath been beneficial unto thee. Because thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. I shall walk before the Lord in the land of the living. I believed, therefore did I speak: for I was sore troubled. I said in my fear, All men are liars. What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits towards me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the Name of the Lord. I will pay my vows unto the Lord, even now in the presence of all his people. Precious in the sight of hte Lord is the death of his Saints. Behold, Lord: for I am thy servant, I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast broken my bonds. I will offer to thee a sacrifice of praise, and will call upon the Name of the Lord. I will pray my vows unto the Lord, even now in the presence of all his people, In the courts of the Lord’s house, even in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem, Praise ye the LordPsalm 116:1–19

Connect The Testaments

June 27: The Truth about Truth

Nehemiah 12:1–13:31; 2 John 1–6; Psalm 115:1–18

John the Evangelist’s letter to the “elect lady” presents a picture of joy and hope, as he “rejoiced greatly to find some of [her] children walking in truth, just as we were commanded by the father” (2 John 4). One word keeps reappearing in John’s letter, focusing his message: truth. John says that he loves the elect lady and her children “in truth” (2 John 1). He says that all who know the truth also love them. His reason is simple: “the truth … resides in us and will be with us forever” (2 John 2). When John speaks of truth, he’s referring to Jesus (John 14:6).

After his initial greeting, John goes on to express his wishes: May “Grace, mercy, [and] peace … be with us from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Son of the Father in truth and love” (2 John 3). In acknowledging the source of truth, John acknowledges his connection to it. All believers live in truth because they are linked to God, who is the Truth. He is the source for all they do (that is godly), all they are (that is holy), and all that they will become (that is virtuous).

In a few brief statements, John teaches us an important lesson: God is the source of all the goodness in the world. Even in acknowledging others, we must acknowledge Him. If we’re to discuss truth, then we must talk about Him.

The elect lady that John addresses is not only truthful—she also leads others to the truth. When we act to encourage someone to work toward who they’re meant to be, we need to follow her example. We need to first lead them to truth: God.

What is God teaching you about truth? How can you live it?

JOHN D. BARRY

EZC

  • These also are the Priest and the Levites that went up with Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua: to wit, Seraiah, Jeremiah: Ezra., Amariah, Malluch, Hattush, Shecaniah, Rehum, Meremoth, Iddo, Ginnethoi, Abijah, Mijamin, Maadiah, Bilgah, Shemaiah, and Joiarib, Jedaiah, Sallu, Amok, Hiilkiah, Jedaiah: these were the chief of the Priests, and of their brethren in the days of Jeshua. And the Levites, Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, Matttaniah were over the thanksgivings, he, and his brethren. And Bakbukiah and Unni, and their brethren were about them in the watches. And Jeshua begat Joiakim: Joiakim also begat Eliashib, and Eliashib begat Joiada. And Joiada begat Jonathan, and Jonathan begat Jaddua, And in the days of Joiakim were these the chief fathers of the Priests: under Seraiah was Meraiah, under Jeremiah, Hananiah, Under Ezra, Meshullam, under Amariah, Jehohanan, Under Melichu, Jonathan, under Shebaniah, Joseph. Under Harim, Adua, under Mataioth, Helkai, Under Iddo, Zechariah, under Ginnethon, Meshullam, Under Abijah, Zichri, under Minjamin, and under Moadiah, Piltai, Under Bilgah, Shammua, under Shemaiah, Jehonathan, Under Joiarib, Mattenai, under Jedaiah, Uzzi, Under Sallai, Kallai, under Amok, Eber, Under Hilkiah, Hashabiah, under Jedaiah, Nethanel,. In the days of Eliashib, Joiada, and Johanan and Jaddua were the chief fathers of the Levites written, and the Priests in the reign of Darius the Persian. The sons of Levi, the chief fathers were written in the book of the Chronicles even un to the days of Johanan the son of Eliashib. And the chief of the Levites were Hashabiah, Sherebiah, and Jeshua the son of Kadmiel, and their brethren about them to give praise and thanks,, according to the ordinances of David the man of Godward over against ward. Mattaniah and Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon and Akkub were porters keeping the ward at the thresholds of the gates. These were in the days of Joiakim the son of Jeshua, the son of Jozadak, and in the days of Nehemiah the captain, and of Ezra the Priest and Scribe. And in the dedication of the wall at Jerusalem, they sought the Levites out of all their places to bring them to Jerusalem to keep the dedication and gladnes, both with thanksgivings and with songs, cymbals, viols, and with harps. Then the singers gathered themselves together both from the plain country about Jerusalem, and from the villages of Netophathi, And from the house of Gilgal, and out of the countries of Geba, and Azmaveth: for the singers had built them villages round about Jerusalem. And the Priests and Levites were purified, and cleansed the people, and the gates, and the wall. And I brought up the princes of Judah upon the wall, and appointed two great companies to give thanks, and the one went on the right hand of the wall toward the drug gate. And after them went Hoshaiah, and half of the princes of Judah, And Azariah, Ezra, and Meshullam, Judah, Benjamin, and Shemaiah, and Jeremiah, And of the Priest’s sons with trumpets, Zechariah, the son of Jonathan, the son of Shemaiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Michaiah, the son of Zaccur, the son of Asaph. And his brethren, Shemaiah, and Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethanel, and Judah, Hanani, with the musical instruments of David the man of God: an dEzra the Scribe went before them. And to the gate of the fountain, even over against them went they up by the stairs of the city of David, at the going up o fthe wall beyond the house of David, even unto the water gate Eastward. And the second company of them that gave thanks, went on the other side, and I after them, and the half of the people was upon the wall, and upon the tower of the furnaces even unto the broad wall. And upon the gate of Ephraim, and upon the old gate, and upon the fish gate, and the tower of Hananel, and the tower of Meah, even unto the sheep gate: and they stood in the gate of the ward. So stood the two companies (of them that gave thanks) in the house of God, and I and the half of the rulers with me. The Priests also, Eliakim, Maaseiah, Minjamin, Michaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, Hananiah, with trumpets. And Maaseiah, and Shemaiah, and Eleazar, adn Uzzi, and Jehohanan, and Malchijah, and Elam, and Ezer: and the singers sang loud, having Jezrahiah which was the overseer. And the same day they offered great sacrifices and rejoiced: for God had given them great joy, so that both the woman, and the children were joyful: and the joy of Jerusalem was heard far off. Also at the same tie were men appointed over the chambers of the store for the offerings, (for the firstfruits, and for the tithes) to gather into them out of the fields of the cities, the portions of the Law for the Priests, and the Levites, for Judah rejoiced for the Priests and for the Levites, that served. And both the singers and the Levites kept the ward of their God, and the ward of the purification according to the  commandment of David, and Soloon his son. For in the days of David and Asaph, of old were chief singers, and songs of praise and thanksgiving unto God. And in the days of Zerubbabel, and in the days of Nehemiah did all Israel give portions unto the singers and porters, every day his portion, and they gave the holy things unto the Levites, and the Levites gave the holy things unto the sons of Aaron. And on that day they did read in the book of Moses, in the audience of the people, and it was found written therein, that the Amonite, and the Moabite should not enter into the Congregation of God, Because they met not the children of Israel with bread and iwth water, but hired Balaam against them, that he should curse them: and our God turned the curse into a blessing. Now when they had heard the Law, they separated from the Israel all those that were imxed. And before this had the Priest Eliashib the oversight of the chaber of the house of our God, being kinsman to Tobiah: And he had made him a great chamber, and there had they aforetime laid the offerings, the incense, and the vessels, and the tithes of corn, or wine, and of oil (appointed for the Levites, and the singers, and the porters) and the offerings of the Priests. But in all this time was not I in Jerusalem: for in the two and thirtieth year of Artachshashta King of Babel, came I unto the King, and after certain days I obtained of the King. And when I was come to Jerusalem, I understood the evil that Eliashib had done for Tobiah, in that  he had made him a chamber in the court of the house of God, And it grieved me sore: therefore I cast forth all the vessels of the house of Tobiah out of the chamber. And I commanded them to cleanse the chambers: and thither brought I again the vessles of the house of God with the meat offering and the incense. And I perceived that the portions of the Levites had not been given, and that everyone was fled to his land, even the Levites and singers that executed the work. Then reproved I the rulers and said, Why is the house of God forsaken? And I assembled them, and set them in their place. Then brought all Judah the tithes of corn and of wine, and of oil unto the treasures. And I made treasurers over the treasures, Shelemiah the Priest, and Zadok the scribe, and of the Levites, Pedaiah, and under their hand Hanan the son of Zaccur the son of Mattaniah: for they were counted faithful, and their office was to distribute unto their brethren. Remember me, O my God, herein, and wipe not out my kindness that I have showed on the house of my God, and on the offices thereof. In those days saw I in Judah them, that trod wine presses on the Sabbath, and that brought in sheaves, and which laded asses also with wine, grapes, and figs, and all burdens, and brought them into Jerusalem upon the Sabbath day: and I protested to them in the day that they sold vittles. There dwelt men of Tyre also therein, which brought fish and all wares, and sold on the Sabbath unto the children of Judah even in Jerusalem. Then reproved I the rulers of Judah, and said unto them, What evil thing is this that ye do, and break the Sabbath day? Did not your fathers thus, and our God brought all this plague upon us, and upon this city? yet ye increase the wrath upon Israel, in breaking the Sabbath. And when the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark before the Sabbath, I commanded to shut the gates, and charged, that they should not be opened till after the Sabbath, and some of my servants set I at the gates, that there should no burden be brought in on the Sabbath day. So the chapmen and merchants of all merchandise remained once or twice all night without Jerusalem. And I protested among them, and said unto them, Why tarry ye all night about the wall? If ye do it once again, I will lay hands upon you. From that tie came they no more on the Sabbath. And I said unto the Levites, that they should cleanse themselves, and that they should come and keep the gates, to sanctify the Sabbath day. Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and pardon me according to thy great mercy. In those days also I saw Jews that married wives of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab. And their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak inthe Jews’ language, and according to the language of the one people, and of the other people. Then I reproved them, and cursed them, and smote certain of them, and pulled off their hair, and took an oath from them by God, Ye shall not give your daughters unto their sons, neither shall ye take of their daughters unto your sons nor for yourselves. Did not Solomon the king of Israel sin by these things? yet among many nations was there no King like him: for he was beloved of his God, and God had made him King over Israel: yet strange women caused him to sin. Shall we then obey unto you, to do all this great evil, and to transgress against our God, even to marry strange wives? And one of the sons of Joaida the son of Eliashib the high Priest was the son-in-law of Sanballat the Horonite: but I chased him from me. Remember them, O my God, that defil the Priesthood, and the covenant of the Priesthood, and of the Levites. Then cleansed I them from all strangers, and appointed the wards of the Priests and of the Levites, every one in his office, And for the offering of the wood at times appointed, and for the firstfruits. Remember me, O my God, in goodness. Nehemiah 12:1–13:31
  • The Elder unto the beloved Gaius whom I love in the truth. Beloved, I wish chiefly that thou prosperedst and faredst well as thy soul prospereth. For I rejoiceth greatly when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee how thou walkest in the truth. I have no greater joy than these, that is, to hear that my sons walk in verity. Beloved, thou doest faithfully, whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers, Which bore witness of thy love before the Churches, Whom if thou bringest on their journey as it seemeth according to God, thou shalt do well2 John 1–6
  • Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy Name give the glory for thy loving mercy, and for thy truth’s sake. Wherefore shall the heathen say, Where is now their God? But our God is in heaven: he doeth whatsoever he will. Their idols are silver and gold, even the work of men’s hands. They have a mouth, and speak not: they have eyes, and see not. They have ears, and hear not: they have noses and smell not. They have hands, and touch not: they have feet, and walk not: neither make they a sound with their throat. They that make them are like unto them: so are all that trust in them. O Israel, trust thou in the Lord: for he is their help, and their shield. O house of Aaron trust ye in the Lord, for he is their helper, and their shield. Ye that fear the Lord, trust in the Lord: for he is their help, and their shield. Ye that fear the Lord, trust in the Lord: for he is their helper, and their shield. The Lord hath been mindful of us, he will bless us, he will bless the house of Israel, he will bless the house of Aaron. He will bless them that fear the Lord, both small and great. The Lord will increase his graces toward you, even toward you, and toward your children. Ye are blessed of the Lord, which made the heaven and the earth. The heavens, even the heavens are the Lord’s: but he hath given the earth to the sons of men. The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into the place of silence. But we will praise the Lord from henceforth and forever. Praise ye the LordPsalm 115:1–18

Amazing Grace Hymns

June 26

NO ONE EVER CARED FOR ME LIKE JESUS

Words and Music by Charles F. Weigle, 1871–1966

Where is God my Maker, who gives songs in the night? (Job 35:10)

It is not difficult to sing when all is going well. But often God gives a special song to one of his hurting children during the night times of their life. Believers find new joys in their nights of sorrow and despair, and they discover a greater closeness with their Lord during times of deep need. The apostle John wrote the book of Revelation while on the barren island of Patmos; John Bunyan completed the classic Pilgrim’s Progress while in the Bedford jail; Beethoven composed his immortal 9th Symphony while totally deaf; and Fanny Crosby once remarked, “If I had not lost my sight, I could never have written all the hymns God gave me.”

Charles Weigle’s song, “No One Ever Cared For Me Like Jesus,” was the product of one of the darkest periods of his life. Weigle spent most of his life as an itinerant evangelist and gospel songwriter. One day after returning home from an evangelistic crusade, he found a note left by his wife of many years. The note said she had had enough of an evangelist’s life. She was leaving him. Weigle later said that he became so despondent during the next several years that there were even times when he contemplated suicide. There was the terrible despair that no one really cared for him anymore. Gradually his spiritual faith was restored, and he once again became active in the Christian ministry. Soon he felt compelled to write a song that would be a summary of his past tragic experience. From a heart that had been broken came these choice words that God gave to Charles Weigle:

I would love to tell you what I think of Jesus since I found in Him a friend so strong and true; I would tell you how He chang’d my life completely—He did something that no other friend could do.

All my life was full of sin when Jesus found me; all my heart was full of misery and woe; Jesus placed His strong and loving arms around me, and He led me in the way I ought to go.

Ev’ry day He comes to me with new assurance, more and more I understand His words of love; but I’ll never know just why He came to save me, till some day I see His blessed face above.

Chorus: No one ever cared for me like Jesus; there’s no other friend so kind as He; no one else could take the sin and darkness from me—O how much He cared for me!

For Today: Psalm 144:3, 4; Jeremiah 31:2, 3; Ephesians 3:18, 19; 1 John 3:1

With God’s help, determine to rise above the problems and hurts that you may be experiencing and turn them into a blessing. Reaffirm your confidence in God’s love and care for you by singing this musical truth as you go—

Osbeck, K. W.

EZC

  • Psalm 144:3
  • . 4; Jeremiah 31:2-3
  • Ephesians 3:18-19
  • 1 John 3:1