2 Kings 6:1-7:20 ~ Acts 15:36-16:15 ~ Psalm 142:1-7 ~ Proverbs 17:24-25
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Old Testament - 2 Kings 6 today opens up with a very interesting little story about the floating ax head! :) Apparently in those days the iron in an ax head was very costly - far too costly for prophets to have been able to afford. Hence, they had to borrow it. If the prophet who lost the ax head had not been able to recover it, he would have then had to have become an indentured servant for a period of time to the person he borrowed it from to pay back the cost. So, Elisha's recovery of the ax head I think demonstrates a simple moral of this opening story in today's readings: God cares for the welfare of those who love God. Whaddya think on this moral of the floating ax head story? Have you had experiences in your life where God has done some small things - or maybe even big things - that don't seem super spiritual at first glance, but simply saved you a lot of heartache/costs/time? I know I have... Praise God that He floats ax heads and even "floats" you and me too! God is indeed our great Life Preserver...
Today in 2 Kings 6 verse 27 we will read this verse that King Joram says to an Israelite during a time of a severe famine – “"If the LORD does not help you, where can I get help for you?” I think the thing to note in this verse is that the King realized he could not end the famine on his own, but that only God could end the famine. (I think the King may have actually been trying to blame God for the famine - and certainly Elisha he blames later in the chapter). I wonder about this in our lives today – do we try to help others and even try to help ourselves using our own power and without relying on God at all? And maybe sometimes even blame God for problems we see, like this King? Do we think we can end a “famine” or whatever problems we see at work, in our community, in our family, or in our world all on our own? Or should we be asking for God’s help in these areas of our lives? I’ve been thinking about this more and more lately – about how little I truly pray for others. I see areas of my life, my family, my community, my work, my church, my favorite charities, our world, that need some help. Need some changing. Need some love. And sometimes I think that I can institute these changes all on my own! Which is foolish. Instead, I should be praying for God’s providence and work in these areas of my life where I see a “famine.” Yes, I do think that God will oftentimes answer our prayers by encouraging us to “do something” to work on a change. But, we’d be wise to prayerfully approach all areas of our life and to pay attention to where God is asking us to “do something” – and to pay attention to where God is flat-out doing the work! Are there any “famine” areas in your life? In your personal relationship with God or others? In your work, church, community? Are there “famine” areas you see in our world? Will you today begin praying to God about these “famines” in the knowledge that famines can truly only end if God is involved in the work? Will you allow God to get involved in the famine areas of your life? Will you pray more consistently than ever before for the famine areas you see in your life?
In 2 Kings 7 today we read about God scaring off the Aramean army! Below is an image from a 15th century Dutch Bible for 2 Kings 7 verse 8 - "When the lepers arrived at the edge of the camp, they went into one tent after another, eating, drinking wine, and carrying out silver and gold and clothing and hiding it."
And below is an image from the same 15 century Dutch Bible for verse 17: "The king appointed his officer to control the traffic at the gate, but he was knocked down and trampled to death as the people rushed out. So everything happened exactly as the man of God had predicted when the king came to his house."
New Testament - In Acts 15 today we read about Paul not wanting to bring along John Mark on the next missionary journey. Good news is that Paul and Mark were eventually reunited in missionary efforts. Some speculate that it was because Barnabas went with Mark at this juncture, Barnabas' patient encouragement helped Mark's eventual effective ministry. In fact, John Mark is the very same Mark who wrote the Gospel of Mark! How's that for encouragement changing the world?? Is there anyone in your life today who you think could be a great worker for God's kingdom with some encouragement? Will you be like Barnabas was for John Mark and work with and encourage that person? Below is an image of Barnabas the encourager:
Today in Acts 16 we read about Paul's 2nd missionary journey, which took place around AD 49-52. - (map courtesy of ccel.org/bible/phillips/JBPhillips.htm)
Great readings about the conversion of Lydia of Philippi today! She was a business woman and a Gentile (like Cornelius) who loved God. And the Lord opened her heart and she believed! Praise God for his continual ministry of opening people's hearts to the Gospel. Has your heart been opened like Lydia's was opened?
Bible.org's commentary on today's Acts readings titled "When Division Becomes Multiplication" is at this link.
Psalms - Psalm 142 is a prayer of David's when he was fleeing Saul and was hiding in a cave. David is praying for deliverance to God from his enemies. I thought verse 3 was powerful - "For I am overwhelmed, and you alone know the way I should turn.
Wherever I go, my enemies have set traps for me." Have you ever felt this way? Overwhelmed? And traps every which way you look? And you have no idea which way to go? At a time like this, will you cry out to God as David did in this Psalm? Will you "pour out your complaints before him and tell him all your troubles"? (v. 2) Do you believe that God knows which way you should turn? Will you allow God to ""be your place of refuge"? In times like these, will you allow God to be "all you really want in life"? (v. 5) Some say that David wrote Psalm 142 while in a cave in Adullam. And apparently, some people believe that this cave in the photo below could have been the cave where David lived in Adullam and wrote Psalm 142... I don't know how true this is, but it's kind of fun to think about this cave maybe being the place in any case:
Proverbs - Today in Proverbs chapter 17 verse 24 we will read – “A discerning person keeps wisdom in view, but a fool's eyes wander to the ends of the earth.” This is a powerful little Proverb. I have been thinking about this quite a bit in recent weeks. I have found that sometimes the world can be so tempting – or maybe distracting is another way to say it. I have found that I have lately had a lot of opportunities to go out and do “fun stuff.” Perhaps you could say I’ve been offered opportunities to “wander to the ends of the earth.” And it’s been tempting. But, I have realized that if I schedule myself 24 x 7, I don’t spend much time thinking about God at all. Reading the Bible? Maybe I can skip it for today. . . And praying for others?? Forget about it. I’m just afraid that we can spend our lives being so distracted that we will lose sight of wisdom. We absolutely need to keep wisdom in view each and every day. That is why I love the One Year Bible format in so many ways – it provides each of us with at least 15 minutes of wisdom in our lives each day! How about you? How are your days being spent currently? Are you feeling distracted? Are you keeping wisdom in view each and every day? Do you see the wisdom in spending quality time with God each and every day? Do you see the wisdom in not taking any “spiritual vacations”? (Spiritual vacations are a very bad idea. . . even when you go on a regular vacation, please bring God with you!) Like this Proverb teaches us today, let us keep wisdom in view and not let our eyes foolishly wander to the ends of the earth!
YouTube: Today's Psalm reminds me of Todd Agnew and Rebecca St. James' "Our Great God:"
Do you know Our Great God? Click here to meet Greatness!
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on a verse of Scripture this week: "Be joyful always!" 1 Thessalonians 5:16 NIV
Comments from You & Questions of the Day: What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!