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It struck me as well how things were going from bad to worse...how leaving a godless life was leading the people of Judah and Israel to a life of hideous crimes.As everything else it only takes one step at a time...one day without praying,another without reading the bible.
So many times I see the name of God and Jesus uttered in vain...Today the name of Jesus is used to exploit people,sometimes it is even cursed...Like Israel of old....the sins of the world are really running over.We want to worship ourselves using God's name as a means to do so...seeking God only for benefits....May God help us all become true worshippers in spirit and in truth.
God bless you all

Mike,

>>And so D called on patriotism and loyalty to Artemis to go against Paul's truthful teaching. I wonder if we in our lives today ever choose our finances over God? >>

I would like to add, how many use “patriotism and loyalty” as a cover for their true financial, physical, and material interest? Growing up on households where church leadership used those three covers as smoke and mirrors to hide behind sexual depravity, I am always skeptical of folks who use Christianity and its tenets of faith to gather up a posse. We get riled up in an emotional tirade by their pitting Christianity against a perceived societal or legal wrong, wrongly or rightly, in such a way that we fail to examine the facts as well as the person putting forth the accusations. Becoming a Christian doesn’t mean you shoot your brains out.

Everything we are reading and seeing in the Book of II Kings dealing with Israel right now can be summed up by two passages:

When a land transgresses, it has many rulers, but when the ruler is a man of discernment, understanding, and knowledge, its stability will long continue. (Proverbs 28:2 AMP)

Jesus sums up the consequences of rooting out evil and depravity (Jehu), getting the house in order, yet not filling it with anything, righteousness being left in the “streets.”

When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it roams through waterless places in search [of a place] of rest (release, refreshment, ease); and finding none it says, I will go back to my house from which I came. And when it arrives, it finds [the place] swept and put in order and furnished and decorated. And it goes and brings other spirits, seven [of them], more evil than itself, and they enter in, settle down, and dwell there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first.
(Luke 11:24-26 AMP)

The above two passages not only speak to Israel it speaks to our lives, personal and corporate. Having a great looking body, controlled by rules and regulations—do’s and don’t—does not make a Believer. I like what John wrote yesterday about worship, especially the part about …false worshipers worshiping the True God. Truly, the state of Israel after Jehu was became worse then before him.

On a lighter but pointed note, has anyone ever expierenced the words of Acts 19:32 in a meeting of some kind, especially church meeting, "Inside, the people were all shouting, some one thing and some another. Everything was in confusion. In fact, most of them didn't even know why they were there." I realize this statement is made of a bunch of pagans, but I've experienced the same out of control 'group dynamic' in several churches I've been a part of. No wonder Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14 that "all things must be done decently and in order."

2Kings15

It was late yesterday when I posted this link to chart of Kings of Judah and Israel.
http://www.geocities.com/thekingsofisrael/kings.html

Uzziah
(AKA Azariah)

Why was Azariah (Uzziah) afflicted with leprosy?

Unfortunately, later in his 52-year reign Uzziah presumed to alter the worship of the LORD, placing himself in the spotlight by entering the temple and burning incense, a duty reserved by the LORD for the priests only. A group of 81 priests confronted the king, informing him of his violation — a courageous act, given the unquestioned power of the king in those days. Uzziah became furious. While he raged at the priests, the LORD showed his support for the priests by afflicting Uzziah with leprosy, which became immediately visible on his forehead. As no leprous person was permitted in the temple, the priests began urging the now-unclean king to leave. Uzziah, himself in a panic, rushed away.

Uzziah never recovered from leprosy. For the rest of his life he lived in seclusion, and his son Jotham acted as king during his absence.
http://www.geocities.com/thekingsofisrael/biography_Uzziah.html

Kings of Israel
Four of the five kings listed in this reading were assasinated. Some after very brief reigns. I am not so sure it was a brilliant career move to desire the "king's role" in Israel????

Ahaz of Judah

King Ahaz devoted himself to pagan worship and its associated evil, touring the nation building shrines, and seeking the aid of every powerless religion he knew of. He even sacrificed his own sons, burning them alive in a ritual to the idol Molech. As a result of his infidelity, the LORD opposed Ahaz' administration, and during his 16-year reign Judah lost the empire built by his grandfather King Uzziah and his father King Jotham, suffered constant military raids by neighbors, and even lost national sovereignty, becoming a vassal to Assyria

http://www.geocities.com/thekingsofisrael/biography_Ahaz.html

"He offered sacrifices and burned incense at the high places, on the hilltops and under every spreading tree."

When did he have time to rule?????

There is some dispute as to what the sacrifices to Molech were like. Whatever they were they were prohibited for Jews as mentioned five times in Leviticus. (eight times overall in Bible)
http://www.blueletterbible.org/tmp_dir/words/m/1151621125-6378.html

For what it's worth the rabbinical description of Molech sacrifices was:

Moloch was represented as a huge bronze statue with the head of a bull. The statue was hollow, and inside there burned a fire which colored the Moloch a glowing red. Children were placed on the hands of the statue. Through an ingenious system the hands were raised to the mouth (as if Moloch were eating) and the children fell into the fire where they were consumed by the flames. The people gathered before the Moloch were dancing on the sounds of flutes and tambourines to drown out the screams of the victims.

A different rabbinical tradition says that the idol was hollow and was divided into seven compartments, in one of which they put flour, in the second turtle-doves, in the third a ewe, in the fourth a ram, in the fifth a calf, in the sixth an ox, and in the seventh a child, which were all burnt together by heating the statue inside.

Let's see: Ahaz worshipped everywhere possible, possibly sacrificed to Molech, used silver and gold from Temple treasury to buy Assyria's help, and finally altered the temple from God's instructions to the way he desired the configuration.....led to King Ahaz' contribution as King......
...through evil practices and poor leadership, lost all the two previous generations had gained, and lost national sovereignty as well, leaving Judah a vassal of Assyria.

Acts 19

I think the best commentary I have seen giving detail as to the Ephesian artisans, Artemis, and political climate of Ephesus is here:
http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/index.php?action=getCommentaryText&cid=5&source=1&seq=i.51.19.1

Artemis and Ephesus
(Excerpts from link above)

The catalyst for the disturbance is Demetrius, a manufacturer of silver shrines of Artemis. These were plaques, silver reliefs of the goddess within her temple. The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art has a second/first-century B.C. bronze matrix of Artemis in her temple (Reeder 1987). It is the form into which a sheet of silver or bronze was pressed to make such a plaque. Once dedicated in the Great Temple of Artemis, these would serve local worshipers and pilgrims as votive offerings, family worship centers, amulets or just souvenirs.....

...The temple of the great goddess Artemis, the pride of Ephesus and Asia, will be reckoned as nothing. It may be hard for Demetrius's hearers to imagine that this structure could totally lose its value in the eyes of the world. After all, Antipater deemed it one of the seven wonders of the world. Its precincts covered an area 425 225 feet, four times the size of the Parthenon, with 127 sixty-foot columns. It was the foremost worship center of Asia and a world-renowned bank (Pausanias Description of Greece 7.5.4; Dio Chrysostom Orations 31.54)....

... In Rome the Aventine temple of Diana (Roman equivalent of Artemis) had a statue modeled on the Ephesian type, and on the occasion of the marriage of Emperor Claudius to Agrippina, commemorative coins were struck at Ephesus with the profiles of the newlyweds on one side and a figure of the statue with the legend "Diana Ephesia" on the other (Kreitzer 1987:61).....

....The theater (capacity twenty-four thousand) was the largest and most impressive of all structures in ancient Ephesus. Built into the steep western slope of Mount Pion with a view of the city and the broad street to the sea, it was used for large gatherings of inhabitants, as well as the citizens' assembly (Finegan 1981:162).
======================================================
The chant Great Diana of the Ephesians! must have sent a chill up the backs of the Christians, including Paul who no doubt could hear it from outside the theater.

i. “The noise must have been deafening. The acoustics of the theater are excellent even today and at that time were even better because of bronze and clay sounding vessels placed throughout the auditorium.” (Williams)

======================================================

Once again an offshoot of Gallio's line of thought prevails, and due to the persuasive speech of the city clerk (a very high position in the city)the crowd disperses.

The last point of four the clerk makes is very important:

Ephesus is a "free city": Rome had granted it self-government, so sure was she of its citizens' loyalty. It never suffered the indignity of having garrison troops quartered in it as, say, Jerusalem did. It was an assize town, where major court trials were held, and the centre, too, for the Pan-Ionian Games. Ephesus witnessed often the pageantry, pomp and splendour that was Rome.

If a riot took place with needless bloodshed - then Rome would show up and squash the insurgency and at best establish a garrison and roman pro-consul there - something the Ephesians did not want to happen.

Once again through slightly different means - God's soverignty is in view as the church seems to be protected from the years 50 A.D. to around 60 A.D. by secular reasoning. Again this allows it time to grow past infant stage - to a stage where it would be impossible to stamp out Christianity.

The situation between Paul and Demetrius is an all too familiar one in this day and age. It sometimes seems that all anyone is concerned about is the $$$ and NOT doing what is right and good in the eyes of God...I work in the healthcare field...I experience this all the time! Mike, I really appreciate your down-to-earth style of writing. This is my first time reading the Bible and some of the passeges can be really frustrating, but your comments seem to get me back on track. Thanks and God bless!

II Kings 15-16:20


So many kings so little time to know them all. The history of Israel’s kings and its people can be summed up in Proverbs 28:2

2 When a country is rebellious, it has many rulers,
but a man of understanding and knowledge maintains order.

I’ve heard it stated that one must always find out how an organization or entity began because the threads of the motivation that gave it birth will always be woven through out it’s existence. Israel’s was birthed out of rebellion, Jeroboam took ten of the tribes out from under the rule of Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, and she continued in that rebellion throughout her existence with her kings as drum majors. If I compared my life to Israel how many kings have I allowed myself to follow, few or many. As a Christian my only king should be Jesus any other ruler brings chaos and strife, and many regime changes.

I find it interesting that nothing is really said abut King Uzziah, who reigned for fifty-two years, in this book. His place in this volume seems to be used as a time line to contrast his reign with the multiple numbers of kings Israel had which was five to one.

The other thing I noticed when Judah’s kings are introduced, at least the good ones, it states that what they did was pleasing to the Lord and then that “But” word enters the picture.

15 4But he did not destroy the pagan shrines, where the people offered sacrifices and burned incense

Is this representing the toleration of sin and its ultimate effect? Had they become so comfortable with deviant life style choices apostasy was accepted? If you play with sin it will play with you. Maybe at first it looks cute because it is small like a little baby lion. Then it grows up and eats you out of house and home, and then eventually it eats you: Dinner anyone?


Acts 19:13-41

I’ve always chuckled when reading about the seven sons of Sceva and their encounter with the evil spirit. Thier method must have worked for a while because if this incident happened when they first began their pseudo ministry, it would have been their last missionary trip. I wonder what tipped off the spirit that these guys were not entitled to use the name of Jesus. How can I apply this to what is going on today with false preachers, AKA, “Jack-leg preachers” and ministries?

Both the sons of Sceva and Demetrius share the same problem, love of money. The seven boys were probably collecting for their efforts and Demetrius was concerned that folks turning to Jesus would substantially decrease his revenue stream.

I’m wondering if we may be giving Demetrius too much credit for starting the riot. Yes, he may have used words to incite the crowds but if the crowd wasn’t receptive to his words and the emotions that are fed by manipulation, there would not have been a riot. The mob allowed themselves to be incited. God gave each person something called free will. We chose to allow ourselves to be carried along by emotional appeals or to allow our brains to critically think over situations we may find ourselves in and make choices based on truth and principles. Life is all about choices.


Psalm 147:1-20

5 How great is our Lord! His power is absolute!
His understanding is beyond comprehension!

I need to remember this verse every time I cry out to God, “Lord you just don’t know what I’m going through!” Not only does He know what I’m going through His understanding about my situations is far and away higher than my perceptive insight if I have any.


Proverbs 18:4-5

One of the stronger themes that run through this wonderful book is the power of words: The words we speak to ourselves, the words we speak to others, and the words spoken to us by others. In fact, in order to favor the guilty or to condemn the innocent, words must be spoken over and into the lives of people.

I like this verse and comment from Psalm 147:
“Rather, the LORD's delight is in those who honor him, those who put their hope in his unfailing love."

Do you put his hope in his unfailing love? Or do you rely on your own strength?
~~~

All of life on earth, in this fallen world, seems dedicated to drawing us away to distractions from the one true thing.

It is NOT wrong to have strong desires. It is wrong, however, to let seemingly “innocent” desires—even for good things—to grow into strong desires that take us away from delighting in the Lord.

And, of course, it is wrong to allow “small” evil desires for what is sinful to develop into strong desires that we later cannot control.

Yet, as I read this morning in an excellent devotional book, “…the devil can dangle a carrot in front of your face, but there is something inside you that actually wants the carrot. You aren’t lustful because some demon comes on you. You are lustful because you have within you a desire for what isn’t right. Jesus said, ‘For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man…’ (Matthew 15:19, 20). The devil can appeal to that lust, but he did not create it. It’s already in us.”

Again, the correct understanding of the nature of reality and the nature of God is key. If there is no God, there is no right or wrong—only human opinion and the military force to back up one opinion versus another.

Satan and/or darkness are not equals with God. Only God can create. The only thing Satan can do is pervert what God has already created.

So we see the extremely sad saga of the northern kings, that they chose evil. Wow! I know that sin is deceptive, and that it appears to be the best way even though it is killing us because it distorts our feelings and perceptions.

Yet, it seems amazing to me that while watching their fathers get judged by the Lord directly or through circumstances that at least one son—a future king of Israel—did not realize that what their fathers were doing was not working.

Just from a practical point of view, I would think that the son would have realized, “What my father as king is doing is not working. Therefore, I will be different and seek the Lord.”

Yet, the darkness of sin is very deceptive, and one cannot see outside of that bubble without seriously determining to forsake sin and seek the Lord. It can be painful, but it is worth it.

Psalm 147 (NKJV)
1
Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful.
2
The LORD builds up Jerusalem; He gathers together the outcasts of Israel.
3
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
4
He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name.
5
Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite.
6
The LORD lifts up the humble; He casts the wicked down to the ground.

Proverbs 18 (NKJV)
4
The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the wellspring of wisdom is a flowing brook.

NOTE:
It is good to meditate on the reality and goodness of the Lord.

A choice to set aside time for thanksgiving and praise is one good way to do this. And, the words that we speak to and over ourselves are extremely important. We can speak the wisdom of God over us—and establish us in God and His Word—or we can speak foolishness.

May we abide or “remain” where God has already planted us—in Christ Jesus—by delighting in His Word and His Presence.

John 15 (NKJV)
7
If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.
8
By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

Vance

Hi

Great book. I just want to say what a fantastic thing you are doing! Good luck!


Bye



Might we risk "gaining the whole world, but losing our soul"

Sadly, the answer is yes: http://www.nypost.com/seven/06292008/news/regionalnews/supermodels_death_plunge_117767.htm "Ruslana Korshunova, 20, whose face graced the cover of French Elle and Russian Vogue, apparently jumped from her ninth-floor apartment in her Water Street building in the Financial District at 2:30 p.m."

This bit from Psalm 147 (v4) today is kinda cool:

"He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name."

Reminds me of the 'Star Registry' I've heard advertised on the radio which enables you to name a star after yourself (or someone you love). Seems like usurping God's name there may not be such a great idea!

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