Friday, June 23, 2017

June 23: 2 Kings 4:18 – 5; Psalm 141; Proverbs 17:23; Acts 15:1-35


            2 Kings: The Shunammite woman’s child died and she left to find Elisha. She didn’t tell her husband why she was going to Elisha but had him send a servant along with her. When Elisha saw her coming at a distance he sent Gehazi to find out why she was coming, but she wouldn’t tell him. She fell at Elisha’s feet. The Lord did not reveal what was wrong, but Elisha could see she was in distress. When she told Elisha that she had asked him not to lie to her about having a son, Elisha sent Gehazi to put his staff on the boy. Elisha then went with the woman. Gehazi came back and reported that the boy was still dead. Elisha arrived and laid on him, prayed and the boy came back to life.
            Elisha went to Gilgal and there was a famine. The prophets there scavenged some gourds for a stew. When they ate it, it was poisonous. Elisha put some flour in it and it was okay. A man brought 20 loaves and some grain. Elisha told him to give it to the 100 prophets but the man didn’t think it would feed everyone. Elisha spoke by the Lord that all would have enough and some left over and it was so.
            Naaman was commander of the Syrian army but he had leprosy. A Jewish slave girl told him the prophet in Samaria could heal him. The king of Syria sent Naaman to Samaria with much treasure and a letter to the king asking him to heal Naaman. The king tore his clothes and asked if he were God thinking that Syria simply wanted reason to fight.
            Elisha heard about it and sent a message to the king and telling him to send Naaman to him. Elisha had a messenger tell Naaman to wash seven times in the Jordan. Naaman thought that was insulting besides Elisha didn’t even come to see him. One of his servants convinced him to do it. Naaman did and was healed.
            Naaman went back to Elisha and proclaimed that he now knew there was no God but the one in Israel. He tried to give Elisha some of the treasure he brought. Elisha refused. Naaman was now concerned that he had to help his master bow before the god Rimmon. Elisha told him to go in peace.
            After Naaman left. Gehazi thought he got off to easy, went after him, and asked for some of the treasure. He lied about the need for some of the treasure. Gehazi kept it for himself. Elisha confronted him for his greed and told him Naaman’s leprosy would be on him and his descendants forever.
            Psalm: David asks the Lord to quickly hear his prayers. He wants his prayers to be an act of worship like the evening sacrifices. He asks the Lord to keep him from evil in his speech and actions. If it is necessary, have a righteous person rebuke him and he will count it a blessing. Still, he prays against evil rulers. He wants them to hear his words so that when they are punished in hell, they will know why.
            David is looking to the Lord for refuge. He doesn’t want to be trapped by the wicked people. He asks that they fall into their own traps.
            Proverbs: Wicked people will pervert justice with bribes, but they don’t want anyone to know.
            Acts: Some men came for Jerusalem to Antioch and told the people that they couldn’t be saved unless they were circumcised. Paul and Barnabas didn’t agree and were sent to Jerusalem to get an official decision. The church welcomed them but some Pharisees said that Gentiles must be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses.
            The Apostles and elders debated the issue until Peter reminded them that he was the one who took the gospel to Gentiles and they received the Holy Spirit by faith just like the Jewish Christians. He asked why they were trying to put a burden on Gentiles that Jews couldn’t even keep. He told them that they believed everyone is saved through grace of Jesus.
            Paul and Barnabas then told of the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles. James then spoke saying that Peter agreed with the prophets. He said the church shouldn’t ask the Gentiles to do anything other than abstain from things offered to idols, sexual immorality, eating meat killed by strangulation, and blood.
            The Apostles and elders then sent Judas and Silas along with Paul and Barnabas with a letter to the church at Antioch stating what James said and keeping from idols. The church in Antioch rejoice and was encouraged.

What Stood Out

            2 Kings: “But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, ‘Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper’” (2 Kings 5:11).
            Psalm: “Do not let my heart incline to any evil, to busy myself with wicked deeds in company with men who work iniquity, and let me not eat of their delicacies” (Ps 141:4)!
            Proverbs: “The wicked accepts a bribe in secret to pervert the ways of justice” (Prov 17:23).
            Acts: “But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will” (Acts 15:11).


            2 Kings: How often do we think that God should do things in the way we expect? Think about the young Jewish girl who was taken captive and ended up in Naaman’s service. Would anyone expect her to be a witness for the Lord? It had to be God’s plan to have her at the right place at the right time, and to be faithful to witness. God would not have gotten the glory for healing Naaman without her, or he would have arranged it by some other means.
            The king of Syria thought God would work through the king of Israel. The king of Israel didn’t think God would work at all. Naaman was sure that God would have Elisha do specific things. All of them were wrong. Just to prove a point, Elisha didn’t even come near Naaman.
            God only worked after Naaman obeyed, but when he did, God opened his eyes to know that there is no other gods but the Lord. Then Naaman started thinking about his job. Would it still be right for him to help his master worship Rimmon? Elisha’s answer may be surprising to some. He said it was okay and to be at peace about it. I don’t think many of us would have answered him in the same way. Sometimes, being a good witness for the Lord requires us to put up with the people around us worshiping other things. The young Jewish girl did and it brought glory to God.
            Psalm: It is the desire of most Christians to keep their hearts from evil deeds. How many of us actually pray for that? David recognized that keeping bad company can corrupt us and we may desire the same things they do. Without the Lord’s help, we would fall into the traps of materialism, pride, power, and other things that he world offers. We need to ask the Lord to keep us from those traps or we may not realize that they are there or how much they draw us away from the Lord.
            Proverbs: Isn’t it interesting that people are willing to give and accept bribes to pervert justice but they don’t want anyone else to know about it. That means that they know quite will that what they are doing is wrong. The Lord knows and sees all. When Gehazi asked Naaman for riches for himself, the Lord saw and let Elisha know. He didn’t escape punishment. Neither will those who use bribery to get promote evil.
            Acts: Peter made it quite clear that salvation is by faith and we are able to believe by the grace of Jesus. Those who wanted to add things to the gospel were shut down. Unfortunately, they reared their ugly heads later in Paul’s ministry and they are still trying to do the same thing today.
            Some tried to add circumcision to salvation. They probably used God’s command to Abraham as the basis for their argument (Gen 17:10-14). They would argue that it predates the Law and even as Paul preached, we are Abraham’s spiritual offspring therefore, we must be circumcised to be part of his household. Unfortunately, some Christian have reworked that logic by saying that the New Covenant has replaced Abraham’s covenant but the sign for belonging to the New Covenant is baptism. Just as all members of Abraham’s household had to be circumcised to be part of God’s covenant with Abraham, now, anyone who wants to be in the New Covenant (become a Christian) must be baptized.
            The party of the Pharisees were legalistic from the beginning but they recognized Jesus as the Messiah. With their penchant for following rules, it was natural for them to think that rule keeping was still necessary for salvation. We all like to keep rules, but that doesn’t save us. Paul later made it clear that if keeping the Law could produce righteousness, then Jesus would not have had to be crucified (Gal 2:21).
            It is only by God’s grace we are saved. The early church affirmed this doctrine and we shouldn’t try to add anything, baptism, circumcision, or legalism to it. Once saved, there are some things we are expected to do, such as obedience to Jesus. But the church also clarified that did not mean keeping the whole Law of Moses.


             I don’t want to be in a position where I put God in a box and think I can predict what he will do or how he will do it. I do want the Lord to keep my heart from evil and obedient to Jesus. I do want to handle the Word correctly so that I don’t add to or subtract from what it takes to be saved or live a godly life.

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