Monday, July 31, 2017

July 31: 2 Chronicles 29; Psalm 24; Proverbs 20:12; Romans 14



Overview

            2 Chronicles: Hezekiah became king at 25 and reigned 29 years. In his first year, he made the priests and Levites consecrate themselves and clean the filth out of the temple. He explained that his and their fathers had forsaken the Lord. They had shut the temple, put out the lamps and not made offerings and that is why the Lord’s wrath was upon the land of Judah. He wanted to make a covenant with the Lord so his anger would be turned away.
            The Levites did as the Hezekiah commanded. After taking out all the filth, it took them eight days to consecrate the temple. They reported back to Hezekiah that all Ahaz had discarded had been restored. Early next morning, Hezekiah and all the officials of the city sacrificed as prescribed by the Law for atonement for all Israel. He set up the Levites with their musical instruments as David had prescribed. When the burnt offerings began, they sang and worshiped.
            Hezekiah then called upon the people to come and give thank offerings and sacrifices. The people brought many animals but there were too few priests to process the offerings to the Levites helped them. They all rejoiced because the cleansing and offerings had taken place quickly.
            Psalm: In the first six verses, David declares that the whole earth belongs to the Lord. Only those who are pure can stand before him. They are blessed by God and they are the ones who seek him. In the last six verses, David expounds on the King of Glory, the Lord of hosts. No one is like him who is strong and mighty.
            Proverbs: God gives the ability to see and hear physically and spiritually.
            Romans: Some people have stronger faiths than others. A strong faith understands all food is acceptable but a person with a weak faith only eats vegetables. They should not despise or judge each other. We are not to pass judgment on such things because God has welcomed both and he will make them stand.
            Other things that we shouldn’t judge others about is what day or days we observe, eating, and fasting. Rather we should do these things to honor the Lord and give thanks. We shouldn’t be doing it for ourselves but for Christ who died and lives, who is Lord of the living and the dead.
            We will all stand before the judgment seat of God and bow before him. We will all give an account to him. So, again we should not judge others and not put stumbling blocks before others. Nothing is unclean unless someone thinks it is unclean. If our eating grieves another, then we should not eat that but we should not let it be called evil either. The kingdom of God isn’t about things but about righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. If someone serves Christ he is acceptable to God and approved by men. Let’s purse peace and building up each other.
            Don’t destroy God’s work for the sake of food. Everything is clean but it is wrong to make someone stumble over it. If you have faith to do things others think are wrong, keep quiet about it and let it be between you and God. You are blessed if you don’t have a reason to judge yourself, but if you have doubt you are condemned because whatever is done without faith is sin.

What Stood Out

            2 Chronicles: “And Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced because God had prepared for the people, for the thing came about suddenly” (2 Chron 29:36).               
            Psalm: “Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob” (Ps 24:6).
            Proverbs: “The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the Lord has made them both” (Prov 20:12).
            Romans: “For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Rom 14:23).

Insight

            2 Chronicles: Hezekiah didn’t waste any time making reforms when he became king. Considering the fact that Ahaz had turned most of the people to worship idols, it is only by the grace of God that Hezekiah could find enough Levites to do the work. When they finished cleaning the temple and making atonement, the congregation then had the opportunity to show their repentance by offering sacrifices.
            One of the major signs that a person has truly repented is how fast they start getting rid of sin in their lives. Many will show remarkable progress in one or several areas of their lives. Others will keep some secret sin or may not understand how offensive to God a sin really is. Those are the ones that can hang on for many years. However, if there is no change in a person’s life after confessing Jesus as his Lord and Savior, then there should be question as to whether that person is really a Christian. The genuineness of Hezekiah and the Levite’s repentance was demonstrated in how quickly they restored proper worship and the people rejoiced. We should also rejoice when we see a person’s quick repentance.
            Psalm: David tells us about those who can stand in the presences of the Lord. They really need to be people who are pure in their ways. The small list of things we shouldn’t do is minuscule compared to the whole Law. Yet the key comes in verse 6 where he tells us that this is the way those who seek the Lord will act. We can’t seek the Lord until the Lord regenerates us. He has to give us the desire to look for him before we will even attempt to do that. Many people will tell of their journey to faith and it seems like they made some decision to look for God. While this may be true, they wouldn’t be able to make that decision unless the Lord showed his mercy and grace upon them to open their eyes and hearts to who he is and their need for him. He is the King of Glory.
            Proverbs: This Proverb could be used to describe how the Lord works in creation and in salvation. Anyone who thinks that the complexity of an eye or an ear could evolve from one celled animals is ignoring the laws of science to believe what they want to believe, that there is no God. They think they are wise, but in truth, the Lord has not given them the ability to see or hear the truth. Without the Lord giving them the ability to spiritually see and hear the truth in the same way he gives us the physical ability to hear and see, they will not believe in God and can’t be saved until God regenerates them.
            Romans: Chapter 14 is a hard chapter to comprehend. There seems to be contradictions all over it. It appears that Paul has already said a person has a weak faith if they only eat vegetables, a judgment. It also is hard to understand how you can abstain from something to keep another from stumbling and also not let what you regard as good to be spoken about as evil. That seems to be hypocritical. If I think eating pork is ok, but my Jewish believing brother thinks it is sinful, I should not eat pork where he can see it. If he tells me it is sinful to eat pork, I’m supposed to tell him it is ok. The same goes for worshiping on different days of the week.
            The two things that make it all work is remembering that in these disputable things, we are not to judge one another. The other thing to remember is that if we aren’t sure about what we are doing, then it is sinful.
            This gets particularly sticky when a couple does something truly sinful such as sex before marriage and we call them on it. They may say that they have faith that it is ok for them or that it is a disputable action because they dispute its sinfulness. They use the arguments in Romans 14 to rationalize their behavior. We handle it by going to the Bible and showing them it is wrong. But they could come back and call me out for eating pork citing the Law to say it’s sin. So what’s the difference, they ask? If I’m not under the Law and can eat pork, they can argue they aren’t under the Law because they aren’t doubting.
            I guess that’s where we decide if we can have fellowship with each other or not. If they are members of the same church, then the matter has to be escalated but there are some churches that don’t care. They will just tell you not to judge each other as long as you confess Jesus is Lord and Savior.
            At this point, I’ve dug myself in a hole. I’m in conflict about judging and about making someone else stumble.

Application

             I need to understand the Bible enough to make sure I’m doing what is right. I still need to point out sin but I need to remember that I’m not the judge to whom others must give account. If they ignore my and the church’s warning because they think they are ok, then it is not my problem. I may have to avoid them to keep myself from stumbling – not stumbling into doing the same thing they are doing but in becoming angry and spiritually proud.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

July 30: 2 Chronicles 26 – 28; Psalm 23; Proverbs 20:10-11; Romans 13



Overview

            2 Chronicles: Uzziah became king of Judah at 16 years old. He reigned 52 years. He sought the Lord as long as Zechariah instructed him. He fought the Philistines, and others. He built towers in the wilderness and cisterns. He was a farmer and loved the soil. He had an army of 307,500. He made engines of war on the towers of Jerusalem to shoot arrows and stones. He became prideful and tried to offer incense to the Lord, which only priests were allowed to do. The Lord gave him leprosy because of his sin and he died as a leper. While he had leprosy, his son, Jotham ran the country.
            Jotham became king at 25 when his father died. He reigned 16 years and did right in the eyes of the Lord. But the people followed corrupt practices. He fought the Ammonites and they paid tribute. He built forts and towers.
            Ahaz became king at 20 years old and reigned 16 years. He did evil like the kings of Israel and even sacrificed his own son. The Lord gave him over to Syria who took many captive and killed 120,000 in one day. Then Israel also attacked and took 200,000 captives to Samaria. A prophet in Samaria, Oded, told the Israelite army to release their brothers because they too were sinners and would face God’s wrath if they didn’t. Several chiefs of Israel agreed and made the army clothe, feed, and supply the needs of the captives and took them back to Jericho.
            Ahaz tried to get the king of Assyria to help him against the Edomites and Philistines. But the king of Assyria came against him also. Ahaz gave him tribute but that didn’t help. He thought the gods of Damascus defeated him so he worshiped them. He shut the temple and used the vessels to set up high places in Jerusalem and Judah. He died but they didn’t bury him with the other kings of Israel. Hezekiah his son took over.
            Psalm: David tells how God is his shepherd. He takes care of his physical and spiritual needs. God does it for the sake of his name. Even in troublesome times, he does not fear. God takes care of him even when faced with enemies. God’s provision overflows in his life. David is secure in God’s love and protection forever.
            Proverbs: God hates people who cheat others in business. You can tell a person’s heart by their acts, even if he is a child.
            Romans: Continuing with the way Christians should act, Paul tells us we need to be submissive to the governments because God has established them. That means paying taxes and conducting ourselves according to laws. If we do wrong the government is there to punish us on God’s behalf.
            We should also not incur debt except the debt of love. Loving others is a way to keep all the commandments. Love doesn’t do anything wrong to others.
            The day of salvation is near so we need to act like it instead of doing the things that belong to people who live in darkness. We should not engage in blatant sinful activities. Instead, we should put on Jesus and not satisfy or even make provision for our sinful desires.

What Stood Out

            2 Chronicles: “For he sacrificed to the gods of Damascus that had defeated him and said, ‘Because the gods of the kings of Syria helped them, I will sacrifice to them that they may help me.’ But they were the ruin of him and of all Israel” (2 Chron 28:23).                            
            Psalm: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Ps 23:4).
            Proverbs: “Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright” (Prov 20:11).
            Romans: “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Rom 13:14).

Insight

            2 Chronicles: Ahaz went so far as to sacrifice to the gods of Syria because he thought they were stronger that the Lord. His religion was what we call pragmatic. He used his human reasoning to reach conclusions that seemed sensible or realistic. The religions of the ancient Near East were the same. If a person did one thing and the result was beneficial, then they continued to do that thing. Ahaz was defeated by the Assyrian’s, they worshiped gods other than the Lord, therefore he believed their gods were stronger than the Lord. He didn’t listen to the Word of the Lord which told him that if he didn’t follow the Lord, he would not prosper.
            In many ways, we are the same way. We ignore God in our lives and think that we have more time to do the thing we want. We don’t give generously to the Lord and think we have more money to spend on the things we want. We are pragmatic in our approach to Christianity. That all may seem to go well for a while, but sooner or later, the truth of Scripture will catch up to us.
            For Ahaz, it was the ruin of Israel. For us, it is the ruin of our testimony. When we look and act like the world, we will not draw people to Christ because we won’t look any different than them. Unbelievers are pragmatic and will see no reason to turn to Jesus. It will be the ruin of our rewards in heaven and most likely we will find we never have enough time or money for the things we want either.
            Psalm: The previous reading of Psalm 23, I wrote about God taking care of us for his name’s sake. When we really understand who God is and what it means to live godly lives for his name’s sake, we gain a perspective of the world that allows us to persevere under the worst of circumstances. David talked about being close to death and still not fearing evil. He knew that when he was seeking to glorify God in his life, the Lord was always with him. When we have trusted Jesus for our salvation, we have God in our lives. We have the Holy Spirit, Jesus, and the Father. We will never be alone, even in death. Furthermore, we will be living like the Lord wants us. We are guided by his rod and staff, his Word and Commandments. They are there to protect us and keep us on the right path instead of keeping us from having fun like some believe. When Jesus comes back again, he will rule with a rod of iron. We submit to his rule now as will some during the millennium after his return. But then there will be people who will submit to his rule because they have no choice. It will be for the good of all mankind and the result will be like the Garden of Eden with evil suppressed to be almost nonexistent. How much better will it be to submit to Jesus now and enjoy the freedom from fear and sin?
            Proverbs: How many times have you heard someone say that a child is a spoiled brat? Is it really the brat’s fault or the parents for spoiling him? The truth is that we are all spoiled brats until we come to Christ for salvation. Some simply show it more than others. Sure, the little brats would be better behaved had his parents disciplined him, but the heart is still the same until it submits to Jesus.
            Romans: One of the hardest things for us to get our minds and actions around is submitting to the government. As soon as we read Paul’s words, we yell, “But what about Hitler. Should Christians have submitted to him?” We ask how we can submit to a government that allows abortions and legislates the requirement for businesses to honor gay wedding? Some of those questions are smoke screens. We are not under Hitler so that question doesn’t apply to us. We are not forced to abort our babies like has happened in other countries. The last one is a bit tougher, but honestly, baking a cake for a gay wedding is not honoring or supporting the legalization of gay marriage. In fact, what it can do is simply showing love to people, which means I’m not breaking a commandment, but I’m being a good witness. If I’m a baker and a gay couple wants me to bake a cake for them, I’ll have the opportunity to tell them that their behavior is sinful but there is forgiveness in Jesus Christ for their sin if they repent. If they still want that cake, then they can pay for it just like anyone else. But it is never right to commit sin in order to obey the government (that takes care of Hitler and others). For some, baking that cake is against their conscience and they should refuse.

Application

             Me, I’m going to put on Jesus Christ – his behavior and his righteousness and live with a good conscience. I’m going to submit to the government’s authority as long as it doesn’t cause me to sin.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

July 29: 2 Chronicles 24 – 25; Psalm 22:19-31; Proverbs 20:8-9; Romans 12



Overview

            2 Chronicles: Joash was 7 years old when he was made king. He reigned 40 years. Joash restored the temple. He told the Levites to gather the tax, but they didn’t do it quickly so he had a chest put at the door of the temple for people to pay their tax. When the box was full it was emptied and they paid the workers. When the work was done, the overflow of money was made into silver and gold utensils for the temple.
            When Jehoiada died at 130 years old, Joash stopped following the Lord. Instead he listened to the princes of Judah. They led him and the people into serving Asherim and idols. God warned them to repent. When Jehoiada’s son, Zechariah warned them by the Spirit of God, they killed him at Joash’s command. The warnings came true and the Syrians routed and looted Judah using only a small army. They left Joash wounded and his servants killed him. They didn’t bury him with the other kings.
            Amaziah, his son, began to reign at 25. He reigned 29 years. He did right, but not wholeheartedly. He executed the servants that killed his father but didn’t harm their children per the Law.
            Amaziah gathered his troops, 300,000 and hired 100,000 from Israel. A prophet told him to send the Israelite troops home because the Lord was not with Israel. God could take care of him without them. He could also give him more than the 100 talents he lost sending them home.
            He sent them home and they were angry for not being able to go into battle. Amaziah went to battle against the men of Seir and won. But the Israelites raided cities in Judah on the way home. Amaziah brought home the idols of Seir and set them up as his gods. A prophet started to warn him but Amaziah told the man to stop or he would kill him.
            Amaziah then challenged Joash the king of Israel. Joash replied that he shouldn’t try just because he beat Edom and had become proud. But Amaziah would not listen and lost the battle. Joash took Jerusalem, broke its walls and took the treasures of the temple and the king. He took hostages and went back to Samaria. Amaziah was killed when there was a conspiracy against him.
            Psalm: This portion of the Psalm begins with “But.” In spite of all this horror, David entreats God to rescue him (Ps 22:19-20). This is still messianic and continues as he declares how he will tell everyone about God, to praise and glorify God who doesn’t abhor the afflicted (Ps 22:21-24). It becomes even more evident of messianic prophecy as the Messiah will be praised in the congregation and he will satisfy those who seek him (Ps 22:25-26). The Messiah’s millennial reign and beyond can be seen in (Ps 22:26-31).
            Proverbs: Rulers who act as judges look at the evidence to expose evil. No one can say he has made himself righteous.
            Romans: Because of all that Paul has written before, we need to offer ourselves to God in worship. We need to be transformed from the world’s ways to God’s. Paul then list many ways of doing that in the way we think and act. We have gifts from God to be used in the body of Christ. He tells us ways to behave toward each other and to those who persecute us.

What Stood Out

            2 Chronicles: “But as he was speaking, the king said to him, ‘Have we made you a royal counselor? Stop! Why should you be struck down?’ So the prophet stopped, but said, ‘I know that God has determined to destroy you, because you have done this and have not listened to my counsel’” (2 Chron 25:16). 
            Psalm: “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you” (Ps 22:22).
            Proverbs: “Who can say, ‘I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin’?” (Prov 20:9).
            Romans: “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Rom 12:18).

Insight

            2 Chronicles: We see that Joash, was one to take counsel with whoever seemed to be strong. This led to his downfall after his mentor, Jehoiada died. This started a chain of events that led to his forsaking the Lord and killing Jehoiada’s son, Zachariah when he warned him about forsaking the Lord. Judah paid the price.
            His son, Azariah didn’t do much better. He started out good as well but turned to idols after beating the very people that had trusted in those idols. He also spurned God’s warnings. Judah also paid the price for his unfaithfulness.
            Both of these men responded in the same way when prophets warned them and predicted disaster for becoming wayward. They are very much like any of us who love sin more than the Lord. We really don’t want to hear the truth and will do what it takes to keep from hearing God’s warnings. It will only get worse as the end of the age approaches. Paul tells us that people will seek out those who will tell them only what they want to hear (2 Tim 4:3). We need to be alert to our own desires that would lead us astray to those who will teach us what we want instead of what God has to say.
            Psalm: There will come a day when the Lord returns or when we go to be with him. That is good news for us. But there are some who believe they are Christians and it will not be good news. In Psalm 22:22, the promise is that the Messiah will tell our names in the midst of the congregation. However, those who have been ashamed of Jesus’ name will not have their names listed in heaven. Jesus told us that it is only those who have not been ashamed of him and his words who will be the ones who will be able to rejoice with him when his glory is revealed (Mark 8:38). The reason some are “ashamed” of Jesus or his words are those who deny that Jesus is the only way to salvation. They are the ones who gather teachers that will tell them what they want to hear and that will not lead to salvation.
            Proverbs: One of the big things that false teachers of our day tell people is that they don’t need a Savior. They tell us that we can either become good enough. Others even say whatever we believe is relative. Therefore, if we believe God will accept us, then he will because we are sincere or we are being true to ourselves. Well, that is not going to cut it with God. It is clear from Proverbs 20:9 that we can’t be pure or cleanse ourselves from our sins. That is why we need Jesus. He is the one that cleanses us from our sins by the blood of his sacrifice.
            Romans: Paul has just finished his theological treatise explaining about sin, salvation, grace, conflicts with the flesh, and now he tells us what that should look like in our lives. We do this in two ways. The first is totally yielding our bodies to the Lord as an act of worship. We are doing it because of who he is and all that he has done for us. It is the least we can do. The second thing we do is to stop conforming to the world. We can only do that when we let God transform our minds to his will. That means we have to dig into his word and let the Holy Spirit work in our lives to clean up all the false teaching that the world has been throwing at us (and we wanted) and that we believed and did before coming to Christ. That means finding good Christian counselor and teachers like Jehoiada who will help us to understand God’s word. Unfortunately, the only way we will be able to know if they are good teachers is to know how to study the Bible for ourselves. So, good teachers aren’t a substitute for our own study. When we do these things, we’ll be on the road to putting into practice the many directions for godly living that Paul provided in the rest of the chapter.

Application

             I want to make sure that my teachers are godly people. I can’t be sure they are unless I study what they say by being in the Word myself. I also want to offer myself completely to the Lord and get rid of the world’s ways from my mind.