Thursday, June 22, 2017

June 22: 2 Kings 3 – 4:17; Psalm 140; Proverbs 17:22; Acts 14:8-14:28



Overview

            2 Kings: In Israel: Jehoram, son of Ahab, became king and reigned 12 years. He wasn’t quite as bad as father or mother. Mesha, king of Moab rebelled against Israel when Ahab died and stopped sending tribute. Jehoram asked Jehoshaphat to go with him to quell the rebellion. The king of Edom also joined with them. The three armies went by way of the wilderness of Edom and after seven days, ran out of water. Jehoram despaired that the Lord had given them over to Moab, but Jehoshaphat asked for a prophet of the Lord and they said Elisha was there.
            Elisha said he wouldn’t tell them anything if Jehoshaphat wasn’t with them. So the Lord spoke through him telling them that water would come and they would defeat Moab, fell all their good trees, stop up their springs, and ruin their good fields with stones. The next morning water came from Edom.
            The Moabites came to do battle but the morning sun shining on the water made it look like blood. They thought the three armies had turned on each other. They went to take the spoil but the Israelites wiped them out then continued into Moab taking cites, stopping up their springs, killing good trees and throwing stones on the good fields. The king of Moab sacrificed his son the wall of his city. That caused the Moabites to be so angry that Israel returned home.
            One of the prophet died and his wife told Elisha they had no money and the creditors were going to take her two sons as slaves. All she had was a small jar of oil. Elisha told her to borrow as many jars as she could from neighbors. She was to pour oil from her jar into them. She did and the small jar kept filling the others until she ran out of empty jars. Elisha told her to sell the oil, pay off her debts, and live on the remainder.
            Elisha went to Shunem and a wealthy woman took him in then and whenever he passed by. She had her husband make a room for Elisha when he came. Elisha asked his servant, Gehazi, what he could do for her. Gehazi said she didn’t have a son and her husband was old. Elisha told her she would have a son next year. She thought Elisha might be lying but she conceived and had a son.
            Psalm: David is again asking the Lord to deliver him from his enemies. They are violent, plot evil, and bad-mouth him. They have set up all kinds of traps for him.
            David acknowledges God as Lord and asks for mercy. His strength for battle is found in the Lord and he asks that the enemies desires not be fulfilled or evil will be exalted.
            He asks that the trouble they plan fall on them like burning coals. He asks that no one believes their slander.
            He affirms his belief that the Lord takes care of the afflicted and brings justice. Therefore, the righteous are grateful and dwell in the Lord’s presence.
            Proverbs: A person with joy has better health than a depressed person.
            Acts: In Lystra, Paul healed a man who was crippled from birth. The people thought the gods had come down in human form. They thought Barnabas was Zeus and Paul was Hermes. The people tried to sacrifice to them but Paul and Barnabas were barely able to stop them. They explained that they were men and were calling the people to the living God who made heaven and earth. God had allowed nations to do their own thing in the past even while bearing witness to himself by providing rain, food, and other needs.
            Jews from Antioch and Iconium showed up and got the people to stone Paul and drag him out of the city. But Paul got up and went back in the city. The next day he and Barnabas went to Derbe where they made many disciples. The went back to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch encouraging the disciples. They explained they would face tribulation. They also appointed elders in the churches after prayer and fasting.
            They went back through Pamphylia and spoke in Perga and Attalia. They went home to Antioch and told the church how God had opened the door of faith to Gentiles.

What Stood Out

            2 Kings: “And Elisha said, ‘As the Lord of hosts lives, before whom I stand, were it not that I have regard for Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would neither look at you nor see you’” (2 Kings 3:14).
            Psalm: “Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name; the upright shall dwell in your presence” (Ps 140:13).
            Proverbs: “A joyful heart is good medicine” (Prov 17:22).
            Acts: “[Paul and Barnabas were] strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).

Insight

            2 Kings: Elisha speaks as a prophet of the Lord when the three kings come to ask about their predicament in the wilderness. What he has to say reveals not only his disdain for the king of Israel, but it is a reflection of what the Lord thinks of him as well. But it also reveals that because of Jehoshaphat, a man who was mostly pleasing to the Lord, Elisha was willing to ask God on their behalf.
            This shows that Christians may have a positive influence on unbelievers. Jehoram thought negatively about God and only feared disaster. But Jehoshaphat was always dependent on the Lord and sought his direction. We can influence others the same way by being available. However, we need to be cautious that it doesn’t work the other way around and they torpedo our faith. We are warned by Paul not be yoked with unbelievers (2 Cor 6:14). Jehoshaphat’s alliance with the kings of Israel will eventually get him into trouble.
            Psalm: We usually don’t face the kinds of trouble that David did. We don’t have enemies who want to violently kill us. However, we may have people who slander us or speak evil against us. How do we respond? Is it okay to ask God to bring it back on their own heads? That was certainly the way things worked in the Old Testament. I think David’s prayer that their slander be ignored is where we start. Jesus said we should pray for our enemies which brings a new light to our behavior. But Jesus says we should also rejoice and be glad when people falsely speak evil against us because of him (Matt 5:11-12). This is the way the righteous behave and David says we will also dwell in God’s presences when we do (Ps 140:13).
            Proverbs: I heard of a man who had some kind of incurable disease and not long to live. He decided to check out some comedy films and go out laughing. He spent hours watching and laughing. What happened amazed the doctors. He recovered! True story or not, joyful people generally are healthier than depressed ones. However, the best joy is that which comes from knowing Jesus as Lord and Savior. There we find eternal joy. Without Jesus, a person may be healthy and joyful in this life, but the next there will be nothing but despair and burnt bones. Surrender to Jesus now and have his joy.
            Acts: Paul and Barnabas stopped in many of the places where they had previously preached the gospel and made disciples. When we share the gospel and see people saved, we should do what we can to make sure they get some good biblical teaching. We may not be able to do it ourselves but we can invite them to our church. We can recommend good teachers on the internet or podcasts. There are many ways of helping.
            One thing that is vitally important for them to know is that entry into the kingdom of heaven often comes with tribulations. Paul and Barnabas were prime examples. Paul had even been stoned. Looking at Jesus’ parable of the sower who spread his seed on the path, rocky soil, weedy soil, and good soil reminds us that tribulation and the cares of the world often keep people from true saving faith. We owe it to people who claim that hey now believe to warn them so that they don’t end up outside of the kingdom. They need to count the cost and not be surprised when trouble occurs. If they are among the chosen, they will persevere, but it will be easier for them when they expect it.

Application

             I need to be careful with my association with unbelievers. While I want to be in the world enough to relate and witness to them, I don’t want to be so close to them to have their values influence me. I should be ready for opposition when I don’t join with them in evil.

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