Old Testament – In 2 Kings 15 today we read about several kings in very short order! The thing that amazed me was that things were obviously going from bad to worse in the northern kingdom of Israel with the kings, whereas things appeared a bit more stable in Judah (for this chapter…). 2 Kings 15 opens up with Uzziah reigning in Judah for 52 years – whereas Israel I think has 6 or so kings during Uzziah’s reign, most of whom are assassinated! We will see how this all plays out over the next couple of days in our 2 Kings readings. There are definitely some ramifications coming for Israel based on how things are going down in these days. Verses 13 & 14 today really showed how tough it was to be king in Israel in these days – “Shallum reigned in Samaria only one month. Then Menahem son of Gadi went to Samaria from Tirzah and assassinated him, and he became the next king.” Reading about Shallum only reigning one month reminds me of how the hearts of men and women are sometimes – that very thing in our world which we seek so strongly, sometimes can be our very downfall. I have no doubt that Shallum wanted to be king very badly – he assassinated King Zechariah in public in verse 10! And yet, becoming king for Shallum did not give him control over all things – he himself was killed just 1 month into his reign.
- This all makes me think about us today – is there anything in this world that we are striving after that may not be all that it’s cracked up to be?
- Might we risk “gaining the whole world, but losing our soul” in some of our pursuits?
- Is there anything in this world today that you are pursuing that you are putting above your relationship with God?
- If so, will you let it go? Will you focus primarily on your relationship with God first and foremost?
- Will you follow the truths of Matthew 6:33 – “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Let us not be greedy in this short and precious life!
In 2 Kings 16 today King Ahaz of Judah messes up big time… think about his idea to remove the bronze altar from the Temple and install an altar that was designed in Damascus? Think God will be happy about this? Essentially King Ahaz swapped his security in God to placing his security in King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria and his pagan gods. Stay tuned to upcoming readings… Again – I come back to our lives today.
- Are we ever similar to King Ahaz in doing something in our lives that we know is not pleasing to God?
- Do we know what is right and what is wrong and sometimes choose what is wrong?
- Why do we do this? Can we stop doing this?
- If so, how? Might it help us to stop doing wrong things if the #1 priority in our lives today were God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit?
- What is the #1 priority in your life today?
New Testament – Wow – strong readings today in Acts 19 verses 13 to 16 about the power of Jesus’ name – and how to incorrectly try to “use” his name too – “A team of Jews who were traveling from town to town casting out evil spirits tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus. The incantation they used was this: “I command you by Jesus, whom Paul preaches, to come out!” Seven sons of Sceva, a leading priest, were doing this. But when they tried it on a man possessed by an evil spirit, the spirit replied, “I know Jesus, and I know Paul. But who are you?” And he leaped on them and attacked them with such violence that they fled from the house, naked and badly injured.” Jesus’ name is the name above all other names – but we should never try to “use” Jesus’ name as an incantation or spell. We can call upon Jesus believing that he and his power will be there with us. But we should not call upon Jesus’ name as if His name was “magic” in some way. It is holy. It is not magic.
- When is the last time you called on Jesus’ name?
- How has calling on the holy name of Jesus ever changed a situation in your life?
Sad stuff that Demetrius stirs up the Ephesians against Paul for one primary reason – his pocketbook. Paul’s preaching of the one true living God was cutting into D’s profits of handmade gods. 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?
- Have you ever chosen finances over God?
- How does this play into your giving/tithing?
- An interesting note from today’s readings is that the temple of Artemis in Ephesus was one of the “Seven Wonders of the Ancient World”.
Jesus obviously is the One wonder of the entire world – ever ancient, ever new. But FYI the temple of Artemis may have looked something like the image below:
Bible.org’s commentary on today’s Acts readings titled “The Evangelization of Ephesus” is at this link.
Psalms – Psalm 147 was thought to have been written for Levitical singers on the happy occasion of the dedication of the rebuilt walls of Jerusalem – see Nehemiah 12:27-43. Psalm 147 was divided into two Psalms – verses 1 through 11 and 12 through 20 – in the Septuagint, the pre-Christian Greek translation of the Old Testament. However, the Hebrew text has the Psalm as one whole Psalm. Verses 10 and 11 are an incredible middle point of this Psalm that stood out to me today: “The strength of a horse does not impress him; how puny in his sight is the strength of a man. Rather, the LORD’s delight is in those who honor him, those who put their hope in his unfailing love.” These verses remind me that God really is not impressed with our shows of “strength” or “independence.” God is much more impressed when we are dependent on Him.
- Are you honoring the Lord with your life today?
- Do you put his hope in his unfailing love?
- Or do you rely on your own strength?
Today in Psalm 147 I liked verse 15 a lot: “how swiftly his word flies!” Indeed, it is true! I pray God’s Word, the Bible, is flying swiftly (and powerfully!) in your life this year!
Proverbs – I love Proverbs 18 verse 4 – “A person’s words can be life-giving water; words of true wisdom are as refreshing as a bubbling brook.”
- Have you ever received words of life-giving water from someone?
- Have you ever given words of life-giving water to someone?
- I love the analogy of true words of wisdom being as refreshing as a bubbling brook! So true!