~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
2 Chronicles 30:1-31:21 ~ Romans 15:1-22
Psalm 25:1-15 ~ Proverbs 20:13-15
Old Testament - Great readings today in Second Chronicles chapter 30 about King Hezekiah inviting all of Israel and Judah to celebrate the Passover of the Lord. Yeah, sure, they ended up celebrating it a month later than normal because not enough priests had been purified, nor enough folks gathered in Jerusalem at the original time. But, in light of the Passover not being widely celebrated in many years, this was huge. I love Hezekiah's letter that he wrote - and verse 9 in particular: "For if you return to the LORD, your relatives and your children will be treated mercifully by their captors, and they will be able to return to this land. For the LORD your God is gracious and merciful. If you return to him, he will not continue to turn his face from you." Think these words of Hezekiah's could apply to us in our lives today as well? Do you need to return to the Lord in any area of your life? Is there a sin that you are still indulging in that is hampering your relationship with God? Will you confess and repent of that sin? Will you return to the Lord? For the Lord your God is indeed gracious and merciful.
In Second Chronicles chapter 31 today we read about King Hezekiah's religious reforms. Below is a coloured woodcut image from Henry VIII´s Great Bible, circa 1538, titled "Hezekiah burns the idols" -
New Testament - Romans 15 verses 2 and 3 definitely give us much to think about - "We should please others. If we do what helps them, we will build them up in the Lord. For even Christ didn't please himself." That's a bit of a counter-intuitive statement compared to what our culture preaches. We should please others? I think our culture would say instead, "We should please ourselves! It's all about you! You are #1!" and so on. This is the beauty of the Gospel. It is counter-cultural in so many beautiful ways. It's the great revolution. It turns the world upside down. The last shall be first. Blessed are the peacemakers. Rejoice when you are persecuted. We should please others. So, are you living your life to please others? Are you doing what helps them? Are you building them up in the Lord? Are you modeling Christ?
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in Romans titled "Pleasing Others and Praising God" is at this link.
Psalms - Psalm 25 verse 15 really stood out to me today - "My eyes are always looking to the LORD for help, for he alone can rescue me from the traps of my enemies." I have come to realize more and more lately that the Enemy is indeed constantly setting traps for us. I don't mean to scare anyone here - but I think this is something very important for us to realize. It has been said that the greatest trick the Devil can play on us is to make us think that he does not exist. If we don't think the Devil exists, then we logically won't think that he's setting any traps for us. Let me assure you - this is clearly Biblical - the Devil exists. Evil exists in this world. Temptation exists. And it does not rest. However - the good news - God is so much bigger and stronger and brighter (and this list can go on) than the Devil - the Enemy. David says in this Psalm that his eyes are ALWAYS looking to the Lord for help. Why? Because God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit alone can rescue us from the traps of the Enemy. Again, the traps are out there for us in this modern world. The temptations and dark alleys and wrong turns call to us unceasingly. But - again, great news here - we can be saved from all of that nonsense; all of that darkness; indeed all of that death, through a relationship with Jesus. Jesus saves. Jesus saves us from ourselves. From our sin. And from the Enemy that sets traps for us. Like David in this Psalm, are your eyes always looking to the Lord for help? Please don't ever take your eyes off God and His mercies, power, and strength.
Proverbs - Proverbs 20 verse 15 is so true for our modern world - "Wise speech is rarer and more valuable than gold and rubies." I hope I don't come off sounding too critical or judgmental here, but I seem to notice that people today talk more and more about "nothing." I mean, I guess it just seems to me that so many of us - myself included - major in minor things. Meaning, we will know every single statistic about our local sports team (or rock band U2? ;), and talk about these things all the time. Which then makes me wonder - do we invest as much time into know God's Word, knowing God's Will, as we do in knowing stats? Or knowing gossip on celebrities? Or knowing what's going on with the latest TV reality show? I guess this Proverb today just rings so true for me - Wise speech is rarer and more valuable than gold and rubies. It is rare. And it is valuable. What type of words are coming out of your mouth these days? Is it wise speech? Or is it perhaps on occasion a whole lot of nothing? Let us invest our words thoughtfully each day in wise speech. Let us share with others that which is more valuable than gold and rubies.
What verses or insights jumped out for you in today's readings? Please post up in the Comments section below!