“A proclamation was then issued throughout Judah and Jerusalem for all the exiles to assemble in Jerusalem. Anyone who failed to appeal within three days would with the decision of he officials and elders, and would himself be expelled from the assembly of the exiles. Within the three days, all of the men of Judah and Benjamin had gathered in Jerusalem. And on the twentieth day of the ninth month, all the people were siting in the square before the house of God, greatly distressed by the occasion and because of the rain. Then Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, ‘You have been unfaithful ; you have married foreign women, adding to Israel’s guilt. Now make confession to the Lord, the God of your fathers, and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples around you and from your foreign wives.’ The whole assembly responded with a loud voice: ‘You are right! We must dos as you say. But there are many people here ad it is the rainy season; so we cannot stand outside. Besides, this matter cannot be taken care of in a day or two, because we have sinned greatly in this assembly. The let everyone in our towns who has married a foreign woman come at a set time, along with the elders and judges of each town, until the fierce anger of our God in this matter is turned away from us.’ Only Jonathan son of Asahel and Jahezeiah son of Tikvah supported by Meshuallam and Shabberthai the Levite, opposed this. So the exiles did as was proposed. Ezra the priest selected men who were family heads, one from each family division and all of hem designated by name. One the first day of he tenth month they sat down to investigate the cases, and by the first day of the first month they finished dealing with all the men who had married foreign women.” (Ezra 10:7-17)
Ezra called the returned exiles to renewed faith and encouraged the people to obey the Law of the Lord. The people gathered to hear God’s word and to renew their faith. God’s assembly (Hebrew – qahal) and congregation (Hebrew – ‘edah) served to bind the people in allegiance to God. The church serves a similar function, calling people to faith and encourages obedience to God. When the church meets, believers are strengthened in their faith in Christ. The fellowship of he church reminds us of spiritual duties and encourages us to serve Christ faithfully.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY:
Precious Abba, today we lift up the discipline of fellowship not only in our churches, but to all in our communities as well. It takes our being intentional to reach out and encourage all people, especially those we may have not yet made our friends yet, but will become so through our faithful service of fellowship towards all. This we ask in Jesus’ name, our Lord and Savior. Amen
THOUGHT OF THE DAY:
“Morning praise will make our days.”
“Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and , with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.” (Acts 14:23)
Churches select leaders and set them apart for Christ’s service. The selection is made under God’s leadership. “Appointed” originally means to elect by a show of hands and later came to mean appoint. How Paul and Barnabas selected the leaders is not clear. The church should elect its leaders. To do so, the church must show the seriousness of purpose of the early churches. Prayer and fasting indicates they devoted time to determine God’s will and allow nothing to interfere with their communication with God. If God does not select and lead the church’s leaders, the human leaders cannot be effective in spiritual ministry.
“Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me.” (1st Corinthians 4:15-16)
The church needs respectable leaders whom other members may imitate confidently. Too many guardians or teachers (Greek – paidagogos) led people to jealousy and quarreling instead of to Christ.
2ND THOUGHT OF THE DAY:
“An argument started among the disciples as to which of hem would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all—he is the greatest.’ ‘Master,’ said John ‘we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.’ ‘Do not stop him,’ Jesus said, ‘for whoever is not against you is for you.’” (Luke 9:46-50)
The church has servants but not rulers. No human official controls the church; all serve Christ through the church. The church practices openness and acceptance toward all people. The child, the weak, the poor, and the powerless belong to God. Those who reject these little ones reject Christ. Those who accept the outcasts show they have accepted Christ. Christ has followers who do not belong to our group. We cannot reject them for not being with us or doing thing our way. They they oppose evil and serve Christ, they are part of His church, just as much as we are.