~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
2 Kings 1:1-2:25 ~ Acts 13:42-14:7
Psalm 139:1-24 ~ Proverbs 17:19-21
Old Testament - Today we begin the book of Second Kings!
Date: Sixth century B.C.
Content: Second Kings covers a period of approximately 250 years during which time two national tragedies occurred. In 722 B.C. the northern kingdom of Israel was destroyed by the Assyrians, and in 586 B.C. the southern kingdom of Judah was destroyed by the Babylonians. The reigns of the various kings are described in some detail with care being taken to show the spiritual significance of what they were doing. Throughout this whole time of good and bad kings, war and peace, prosperity and ruin, God is seen to be at work, in particular sending prophets to preach his word and warn of judgment to come.
Theme: God’s control over the affairs of men and nations is constantly seen throughout this book. The rulers of men may think they are in control, but even the enemies of God’s people fit into God’s plan by executing judgment upon the wayward nations of Israel and Judah. It must be stressed that sin invariably brings judgment upon the people and righteousness brings God’s blessing. Second Kings also shows that God never sends his judgment without a warning first; in this instance, the warning came through the prophets who were sent. (Above commentary is from Tyndale Publishers “The One Year Bible Companion” pp. 6-7) More commentary on Second Kings is at these 3 links –
http://bible.org/page.asp?page_id=752 (Introduction to Elijah)
2 Kings 1 today... wow... Elijah is not to be messed with when he is sitting on top of that hill! Elijah asks a very poignant question twice in this chapter - "Is there no God in Israel?" This is a question each of us will need to ask in our lives at some point - "Is there or is there no God in my life?" Hopefully we've all already answered this question affirmatively. It's a sad state of affairs to imagine a country without God. It is a sad state of affairs to imagine our own lives without God.
Today in 2 Kings 2 we read about Elijah going up to heaven in the whirlwind. Elijah was taken to heaven without dying. He is the 2nd person in scripture to do so - Enoch was the first (see Genesis 5:21-24). Jesus was also taken to heaven in bodily form after his resurrection from the dead (see Acts 1:9). Below is Italian artist Giovanni Battista's (1683-1754) painting of Elijah's whirlwind scene -
Okay, so 2 Kings 2 verses 23 & 24 are some of the most unique verses in the Bible no doubt... "Elisha left Jericho and went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, a group of boys from the town began mocking and making fun of him. "Go away, you baldhead!" they chanted. "Go away, you baldhead!" Elisha turned around and looked at them, and he cursed them in the name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of them." Zondervan's NIV Study Bible has some good commentary on these verses as follows: "The youths from Bethel no doubt assumed that Elisha was going up to Samaria to continue Elijah's struggle against royal apostasy. Some believe that the youths, in their mocking, were telling Elisha to ascend to heaven as Elijah had done. By calling Elisah "baldhead" the youths from Bethel expressed that city's utter disdain for the Lord's representative, who, they felt, had no power. Elisha pronounced a curse that gave warning of the judgment that would come on the entire nation of Israel should it persist in disobedience and apostasy."
New Testament - Great readings today about how Paul and Barnabas' ministry to the Gentiles was growing! Verse 52 is awesome - "And the believers were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit."
Psalms - Today we read Psalm 139, which is just off the charts awesome! I LOVE this Psalm. . . Is this Psalm anyone's favorite Psalm out there? I would not doubt it if was. This is just an incredibly beautiful Psalm about how much God loves and cares for us. And just how well God knows us. Please read and re-read this Psalm today if you can. And rejoice in how much God loves you and how much he knows you. Each of the verses in this Psalm are incredible. I'll highlight a few. Verse 3 - "You chart the path ahead of me and tell me where to stop and rest. Every moment you know where I am." Do you believe that God charts out your path for you? Do you believe that God gives you true rest? Do you believe God knows where you are every single moment of your life?
Verses 13 & 14 - "You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous--and how well I know it." Do you believe that God was loving and caring and creating you in your mother's womb? Are you amazed by the complexity and wonder of the human body? Could it be anything other than the marvelous workmanship of a loving and creative and living God? (next two images below courtesy of heartlight.org)
And verses 23 & 24 to close out the Psalm - "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life." Do you consistently ask God to search your heart and mind? Do you confess to God what is not right in your heart and mind? What needs healing? Do you ask God to even point out to you things that you may not realize are destructive to you and others in your heart and mind? Do you believe that this process of confessing your sins to God and asking for forgiveness and healing will lead you along the path of everlasting life?
Proverbs - Proverbs 17 verse 20 stood out to me today - "The crooked heart will not prosper." Do you believe this is true? What would make a heart crooked? Whom can heal a crooked heart? Jesus? Has Jesus healed your heart yet? Will you let Him do so?
Comments from you - What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!