~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
2 Chronicles 17:1-18:34 ~ Romans 9:25-10:13
Psalm 20:1-9 ~ Proverbs 20:2-3
Old Testament - Today in 2 Chronicles 18, King Ahab of Israel is not happy about the Arameans occupying Ramoth-gilead! Unfortunately for King Jehoshaphat of Judah, he entered into a political alliance with Ahab by having his son marry Ahab's daughter, Athaliah. This basically bound him into going into battle with Ahab - but even worse, as we'll read in the coming day's readings, Ahab's daughter Athaliah nearly kills all of the descendants of David in Judah.... more on this sad drama is coming up in chapter 22. A good location-profile of Ramoth-gilead is at this link. Ramoth-gilead was on a hilltop that could have looked something like this first image below. The 2nd image below is a map (look to the center-right):
King Jehoshaphat of Judah wisely suggests that they should consult God before going into battle against the Arameans. At which time King Ahab of Israel trots out his 400 yes-men "prophets" who say they should definitely go to war and that they will be victorious! I love Jehoshaphat's reaction to these 400 yes-men in verse 6 - "But Jehoshaphat asked, "Isn't there a prophet of the LORD around, too? I would like to ask him the same question."" Ahab's reaction in verse 7 is quite telling... "There is still one prophet of the LORD, but I hate him. He never prophesies anything but bad news for me! His name is Micaiah son of Imlah." This verse really stands out for me in a big way in our world today. I wonder if sometimes we - you and me - look for supposed "prophets" of the Lord that are yes-people to our particular likings - instead of looking for Truth. Meaning... and I'm just putting this out there, so bear with me. Do we sometimes maybe even decide to attend a particular church because it tells us basically what we want to hear? It keeps us in our comfortable place... we get yes-messages... When, instead, should we be okay with attending a church that will give us some challenging and convicting messages on occasion? Biblical messages mind you - which surely can be challenging to our modern ears at times. I heard somewhere once before that church should be a place that "comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable." I like that... Now, don't get me wrong. I am not saying we need to be in super-strict churches per se. I just think we should really watch for churches that are giving a yes-message all the time to our particular likings verses churches that teach the Truth. I don't think church is the only area of where we might default to looking for yes-messages. I think this can happen in books we read, TV we watch, or even with friends or with work. Are we listening to 400 yes-people in our lives or are we okay with 1 Micaiah coming in and sharing a perceived "bad-news" message? (which may ultimately be very good news if we'll just listen to it... if Ahab had really listened to Micaiah's message in today's readings, think he still would have rushed out to battle?) Below is an image of Micaiah and the false prophets before Ahab and Jehoshaphat -
New Testament - In Romans chapter 10 verse 1 today, Paul reminded me of the modern-day ministry called Jews for Jesus: "Dear brothers and sisters, the longing of my heart and my prayer to God is that the Jewish people might be saved." Paul was certainly a Jew for Jesus! How about you - are you a Gentile for Jesus? Or perhaps you are also a Jew for Jesus? Whoever you are - are you for Jesus?
Without a doubt, Romans chapter 10 verses 9 & 10 are the most important verses some of us will read this year and really take to heart - "For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. " Do you believe these verses to be true? Have you prayed these verses with your heart and your mouth to God? If not, will you today?
Psalms - Psalm 20 is a prayer for a king as he goes out into battle - check out verses 1 through 5 again and you can imagine a group of people saying these words to the king. Maybe another way to read this Psalm, personally, is as a prayer for yourself as you go out into battle against a sin or a struggle in your life. And this verse 5 then is for you as you go into this battle - "May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory, flying banners to honor our God. May the LORD answer all your prayers." Amen! Let the banners fly soon in your life!
Proverbs - Proverbs chapter 20 verse 3 is such great wisdom - "Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor; only fools insist on quarreling." I once was a fool who insisted on quarreling with Tony back in about 3rd grade :) after either I beat him or he beat me in the 50 yard dash at Field Day. Tony kept trying to avoid the fight with me. But I kept on pressing it. And I got whupped! It was really a great learning experience for me. I have avoided fights ever since! Don't get me wrong. I don't think we are called to be submissive and let people walk all over us. I think we can confidently and strongly hold our ground on important issues - without fighting or quarrelling. How about you? Do you avoid fights? Do you realize this is a mark of honor? Or do you insist on quarrelling? Think this is a good idea...?
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!