Weekend readings

Saturday, April 30 reading: 2 Kings 17:1-19:13 “God’s Mercy to Eclectic Worshipers”

Sunday May 1 reading: 2 Kings 19:14-22:20 “The Recovery of the Law of God”

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Have a great weekend.  See you again on Monday!

[For more reflections on these passages see the corresponding readings in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Photo by Abbey Knouff

Unbiblical Worship Exemplified

Worship is to be according to Scripture, but that didn’t happen during the reign of Ahaz.

Today’s reading:  2 Kings 14:1-16:20

That worship is to be according to Scripture is called the “regulative principle”.  God tells us how to worship Him in His Word.  That was true under the Law of Moses in Old Testament times and it is true today.  Ahaz blatantly disregarded this principle as we see in today’s reading.

There are variations in the interpretation of the regulative principle.  Some hold that whatever is not prohibited by the Bible for worship is permissible.  Others teach that only those activities and practices which are explicitly commanded in God’s Word are acceptable. Probably many churches are  somewhere in the middle on the subject, between these two positions.   Apparently, Ahaz didn’t give this principle much thought, but we should even if we don’t totally agree with each other on the details.  Worship is for the glory of God and our highest concern should be with pleasing Him.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

The Danger of Settling for First Place

Here’s why being first can be a sure path to mediocrity.

Today’s reading:  2 Kings 10:18-13:25

Jehu was a king who got mixed reviews.  He did better than other kings but did not serve God fully.  You could say he came in first.  But first was not good enough.  Maybe he compared himself to others and felt he had done enough.  His scale of values was distorted by human failings.

God made us to be His image bearers, to reflect His glory.  As fallen creatures we do not achieve that perfectly.  Only Jesus Christ lived a sinless, completely God-honoring life.  Yet we will be like Him (I John 3:1-3).  That is our destiny.  Do not settle for first place, like Jehu,  but seek to grow in Christlikeness.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Preaching through Tears

Today we read of a man who was given an horrific message to deliver, but he gave it faithfully.

Today’s reading:  2 Kings 8:7-10:17

We are called to proclaim the truth of the gospel, bad news and good news.  We may not tamper with the message to make it more palatable or pleasant.  Be faithful as you preach the gospel even through tears.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

God’s Sovereignty over the Nations

To listen to the media, one would think there is no sovereign God ruling over the nations.  But is that the truth? No way!

Today’s reading:  2 Kings 5:1-8:6

We are fed by a steady diet of bad news.  Chaos seems to reign around the globe: famine, war, terrorism, poverty, global warming, political corruption, and so on.  We need to be reminded that these kinds of crises have existed for thousands of years.  Is God still God?  Absolutely.  Trust Him come what may.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Validation of the Prophet’s Ministry

When Elisha assumed the mantle of Elijah’s ministry, God provided a unique means of validating that transition of authority.

Today’s reading:  2 Kings 2:19-4:44

God gave Elisha the power to perform miracles as a means of certifying the authenticity of the prophet’s role.  There are clear parallels to several of Jesus’ miracles.  Yet the seeking of signs and miracles can be an obstacle to faith (Matthew 12:38-39; 1 Corinthians 1:22).   Jesus is the culmination of God’s revelation to us in His Word, the Bible (Hebrews 1:1-2).  Let us be diligent to study and believe what He has revealed in Scripture.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

April 23-24, 2016 Weekend readings

Saturday, April 23 reading: 1 Kings 19:1-21:29 “The Right and Wrong Use of Power”

Sunday April 24 reading: 1 Kings 22:1-2 Kings 2:18 “Bold Obedience”

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Have a great weekend.  See you again on Monday!

[For more reflections on these passages see the corresponding readings in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Photo by Abbey Knouff

Be Careful What You Don’t Wish For

Today’s reading: II Kings 23-25; John 7:1-31

25 Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him.                                                                                              II Kings 23:25

17 If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.                                                  John 7:17

Yesterday we saw that we choose unbelief because that is the natural inclination of our hearts. By the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, we are born again with hearts inclined toward God.  Today we see that another obstacle to believing, besides being spiritually dead and unable and unwilling to believe, is that as unbelievers we do not really want to do God’s will.

Jesus told the crowds, who were astounded by His teaching despite His apparent lack of formal education, that His teaching came from the One who sent Him. What He taught was not His own but His Father’s teaching. God the Father’s authority was behind the Son’s words. How can you know this? Jesus said, if anyone’s will is to do God’s will, that person will know whose the teaching is.   People around Jesus all heard Him but they responded in a wide variety of ways. Some sort-of believed. Some seriously doubted. Others wondered. But Jesus said the confusion would clear up immediately for that person who was seeking to do God’s will.

Josiah, although living some six centuries before Jesus, was certainly a man whose will was to do God’s will. When the Book of the Covenant was found, Josiah devoured it. He then gathered all the people together and read it to them in its entirety. He wanted to do God’s will and he wanted the people in his kingdom to do so, too.

It is a dangerous thing to be indifferent or averse to the will of God.  Be careful what you don’t wish for. Make it your greatest desire to do God’s will. Seek to know it through His Word. One thing we know He wills for us is our sanctification (I Thessalonians 4:3), that we grow to be more like His Son (Romans 8:29). Eventually we, if we believe, will be like Him for we will see Him as He is (I John 3:2).

Why We Choose Belief or Unbelief

Today’s reading: II Kings 20-22; John 6:45-71

9 But they did not listen, and Manasseh led them astray to do more evil than the nations had done whom the Lord destroyed before the people of Israel. II Kings 21:9

65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”   66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67 So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” John 6:65-67

People choose to believe or not believe, but without the work of the Spirit in a person’s heart there will be no inclination to believe.

The history of the kings of Israel and Judah is both fascinating and troubling. It is fascinating to follow the decisions of the kings and their conflicts and treaties with the neighboring nations. It is troubling because there is so much unfaithfulness to God’s covenant. Just about the time you think things are getting on a better path, a king will revert to idolatry and disobedience.

Today’s reading demonstrates these ups and downs. Hezekiah had led Judah in a period of faithfulness like none before him. We also read about Josiah who repaired the temple, rediscovered the book of the law, and led the nation to revival. But in between these two godly kings was Manasseh who had the longest and worst reign in the history of Judah. He led the people to do more evil than the Canaanite nations that God had judged and destroyed under Joshua. How do these things happen? How does a great and godly king (Hezekiah) have such a wicked son (Manasseh)? How does such a wicked king (Manasseh) father such a godly son (Josiah)?

Clearly, something is at work in these fathers and sons besides mere environmental influence. The difference, we discover, is God the Father who draws people to Himself (John 6:44). It is the Spirit who gives life (John 6:63). It is Jesus whose body and blood gives eternal life to the one who believes in Him. Those who heard Jesus either responded with disbelief and even disgust, or they drew near to Him concluding like Peter did when he said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:68-69).

To whom will you go? Jesus’ words either comfort or repel you. If you believe, you may be sure it is the drawing of the Father and the life-giving ministry of the Spirit as you consider Jesus. If you do not believe, but are troubled by your unbelief, that, too, is the work of God in you. Call to Him for faith to believe and grace to repent of your sins and come to the Bread of Life. You are not controlled by your family history and outward environment either for good or bad. Your choice reflects your heart. May God give us His Spirit so that we may believe!

What Pleases God

Today’s reading: II Kings 18-19; John 6:22-44

5 He trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him. 6 For he held fast to the Lord. He did not depart from following him, but kept the commandments that the Lord commanded Moses. 7 And the Lord was with him; wherever he went out, he prospered.                                                                                                                 II Kings 18:5-7a

28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”                                                                                                       John 6:28-29

Throughout history, God has been and is pleased with those who believe in Him, who believe Him.

Hezekiah came to the throne in Jerusalem at a most difficult time. Assyria was the dominant nation and was putting pressure on both Israel and Judah. Israel fell and Assyria prepared to finish off Judah as well. But Hezekiah trusted the Lord. Taunting came and threats of Assyrian victory, but Hezekiah prayed and sought the Lord. He turned to the prophet Isaiah for advice. God delivered them and turned sure defeat into a time of freedom and prosperity.

The Jews asked Jesus what they needed to be doing in order to do the works of God. Their question implied that they wanted to please God and that they assumed that God could be pleased by some actions, some works on their part. Jesus corrected them by saying that the work of God for them was to believe in the One God had sent them. They stumbled over His plain teaching, looking for some way of getting on the right side of God, but they were missing the most basic quality of the godly person, faith.

The writer to the Hebrews said, “ And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6).

How about you? Do you trust God or, when life is unbearable, do you frantically try to be “good enough” to merit God’s favor? God looks for the believing heart and is pleased. Trust Him even if the Assyrians are at your doorstep. The same God who was with Hezekiah is able to see you through and deliver you from your worst nightmare.