Sunday, July 30, 2017

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


            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).


            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.


             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.

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