~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
2 Chronicles 26:1-28:27 ~ Romans 13:1-14
Psalm 23:1-6 ~ Proverbs 20:11
Old Testament - Today in Second Chronicles chapter 26 we read about Uzziah ruling in Judah - along with his sin and punishment. Uzziah, like other kings of Judah we've read about recently honored God in his early years, but then fell away in his later years. Sad! I pray that none of us fall into the trap of honoring God now and then dishonoring him later in our lives. How do you suppose we can avoid this trap? I think one of the key things is to read the Bible daily. But I also am realizing more and more that we need to be in community with other Christians consistently. Yes, church every weekend. But more than that - small groups, Bible studies, accountability groups, etc. We need to encourage and challenge each other in community to continue running our race strong! Are you in consistent community with other Christians in your life today? If not, will you consider joining a small group or Bible study at your church? If you're not going to church, will you start going to church this weekend? Do you see the danger of not being in community with other Christians, and ending up perhaps like some of the kings of Judah who dishonored God later in their lives? Please, please, please - be in a consistent community with other Christians! Below is an oil painting by Rembrandt titled "The King Uzziah Stricken with Leprosy" from the year 1635:
Today in Second Chronicles chapter 28 we read about King Ahaz of Judah. You will note that the reign of Ahab is the only reign in which the Chronicler does not mention a single redeeming feature... Things are obviously getting worse for the southern Kingdom of Judah! A very interesting thing happens in verses 9 through 15 where we are introduced to the prophet Obed in Samaria, and the northern captors show kindness to their captives from Judah. In fact, some scholars believe that verses 14 & 15 may even be the background for Jesus' parable of the Good Samaritan! Very cool to consider! Do you see how these 2 verses could be background for Jesus' parable of the Good Samaritan? "So the warriors released the prisoners and handed over the plunder in the sight of all the leaders and people. Then the four men mentioned by name came forward and distributed clothes from the plunder to the prisoners who were naked. They provided clothing and sandals to wear, gave them enough food and drink, and dressed their wounds with olive oil. They put those who were weak on donkeys and took all the prisoners back to their own land--to Jericho, the city of palms. Then they returned to Samaria." Below is the artist Vincent van Gogh's take on the parable of the Good Samaritan from the year 1890:
New Testament - Tyndale's One Year Bible Companion has a great overview of three historical interpretations of how Christians are to submit to the government per Paul's writings in Romans chapter 13 verse 1 today: "1. Some Christians believe the state is so corrupt that Christians should have as little to do with it as possible. 2. Others believe that God has given the state authority in certain areas and the church authority in others. Christians can be loyal to both and can work for either. They should not however confuse the two. 3. Still others believe that Christians have a responsibility to make the state better. They can do this politically by electing high-principled leaders. None of these 3 views advocate rebelling against or refusing to obey the government's laws or regulations unless those laws clearly require you to violate the moral standards revealed by God." Bible.org's commentary on this subject titled "The Christian and Civil Government" is at this link. I lean toward a mix of #2 and #3 these days. I think there is much value in Christians paying attention to local and national and international governments, and getting involved. Let us not just throw our hands up in the air and think that our government is nothing but this image below... :) (or if we do think our government is nothing but this image below, then let us work to change the reality!)
How incredibly powerful are Paul's words in Romans 13 verses 8 through 10 - "Pay all your debts, except the debt of love for others. You can never finish paying that! If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill all the requirements of God's law. For the commandments against adultery and murder and stealing and coveting--and any other commandment--are all summed up in this one commandment: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no wrong to anyone, so love satisfies all of God's requirements." Wow... great stuff. Love satisfies all of God's requirements. Do you believe this to be true? What type of love do you think Paul is talking about here? A passive love? An active love? Who is the last person you paid the debt of love to? Who is the next person you will pay the debt of love to? Will you pay the debt of love to somebody in your life each and every day? Image below is courtesy of heartlight.org:
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in Romans titled "Love, Law, and the Last Days" is at this link.
Psalms - Psalm 23! What a Psalm!! This is the first Psalm for sure that I ever really read and was comforted by without a doubt. Psalm 23 is a profession of joyful trust in God as the good Shepherd-King by David. I like The Message's take on Psalm 23 at this link. Bible.org has a wonderful commentary on Psalm 23 titled "A Psalm that calms the soul" at this link.
Proverbs - Today in Proverbs 20 verse 11 we read – “Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right.” This is an interesting Proverb for me to meditate upon. I focus in on the word “actions" here. Basically this Proverb to me is saying that actions matter. Our actions don’t save us or make us right with God, but they matter. Even children are known by their actions. Do you think that you and I are known by our actions? If so, what are our actions saying to others? Is our conduct pure and right? I have some friends who seem to think that actions do not matter – particularly once we are in relationship with Jesus. I get very nervous with this line of thinking. I think particularly once we are in a relationship with Jesus, we are called to follow Jesus and we are called to holiness. We are called to be saints. Yes, saints. Now, don’t get me wrong – we will stumble. We will fall. We will not be perfect this side of heaven. Even after being in relationship with Jesus we will make mistakes. But, I believe we are called to live our lives such that we incrementally start to look more and more like God’s own son, Jesus. I believe we are called to love like Jesus. Forgive like Jesus. Give like Jesus. And this list goes on – check out the Beatitudes in Matthew 5 for a nice list of actions for us to emulate. So – even a child is known by his actions. What would people say about you based on your actions these days? Would they see that you are becoming more and more like Jesus with each passing day, week, month, and year? Do you think your actions matter?
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!