Friday, January 29, 2016

II Kings 12: Capital Improvements

Those who have been involved in local congregations know that there is always something needing done around the church building.  Parking lots, furnaces, flooring, painting, leaks, etc. are just some of the building issues that regularly come into play. Bigger, older buildings have even greater legacy issues involving utilities and higher maintenance costs.  Imagine taking care of an aging structure like Solomon's Temple!

II Kings 11: Raised In The Church?

From time to time you may hear lifelong Christians share their faith testimony and say something along the lines of, "I was literally raised in the church!"  By this they usually mean that they were brought up by their parents in the faith from a very early age and that a lot of their childhood was spent in church-related activities.  They weren't actually raised in the church.  But the key figure of II Kings 11 was, in fact, "literally" raised in the church.  (Or in the Temple, anyway!)

Thursday, January 28, 2016

II Kings 10: Wipe Out!

Remember how Jonathan made David swear an oath to always look out for his family?  The actions of Jehu in II Kings 10 illustrate why Jonathan had cause to be worried about a change in dynasty.  When a new family comes to the throne, the first order of business is usually slaughtering all of the previous king's heirs so as to eliminate any challengers to the crown.  In Jehu's case, not only did he wipe out all of Ahab's family, he also cleansed the land of Baal worshipers.

II Kings 9: Details, Details

Although the entire Bible is the inspired Word of God, I have to admit that I especially love the little details running throughout scripture that give it so much life and color.  There are several great examples of the power of minor details in II Kings 9.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

II Kings 8: Walk This Way

Several times in scripture we hear a phrase like "he walked in the way of the house of Ahab" (vs. 18, 27).  This signaled that the king in question turned to wickedness and tolerated evil during his reign rather than promoting the worship of God and the good of his subjects.  At other times, the Bible says something like the new king "walked in the way of his father Asa; he did not turn aside from it, doing what was right in the sight of the Lord" (I Kings 22:43).  In this case, a righteous model was chosen and the king followed in his footsteps.  Even though you may not be a king, do you realize that you are responsible for the way in which you choose to walk?  Have you ever stopped to consider in whose way you do walk?

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

II Kings 7: Too Good To Keep To Ourselves!

"Then they said to one another, 'What we are doing is wrong.  This is a day of good news; if we are silent and wait until the morning light, we will be found guilty; therefore let us go and tell the king's household" (vs. 9).

II Kings 6: Open And Shut

Have you ever had an experience where the truth was more than meets the eye?

Monday, January 25, 2016

Psalm 104: The Circle Of Life

Psalm 104 unapologetically views the entirety of Creation as the result of God's intelligent design.  Although the parts may seem distinct and unrelated, the reality is that they are all interconnected in a great circle of life.

Friday, January 22, 2016

II Kings 5: Worldly Thinking

Do you ever struggle to remember that - as Christians - we believe in a different God and live by a different standard than the world?  We must be on our guard against worldly thinking when it comes to our faith.  Two instances from II Kings 5 illustrate this tension for me.  The first is the pride of Naaman, and the second is the greed of Gehazi.

II Kings 4: Deja Vu?

We know that Elisha asked for a double portion of Elijah's spirit back in II Kings 2, but it may still surprise us to see how many parallels there are between some of their miracles.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

II Kings 3: Prophet Of Water?

If Elijah is regarded as a prophet connected with fire, could Elisha's ministry be associated with water?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

II Kings 2: Blown Away

Elijah, the fiery prophet, goes off in a literal blaze of glory in II Kings 2.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Obadiah: Doom For Edom

There are a lot of uncertainties concerning the authorship and date for the Book of Obadiah.  One of the early possibilities is that the prophecy was given by the "Obadiah" mentioned in I Kings 18, a righteous servant of Ahab's who met with the prophet Elijah.  It has been suggested that this servant was also the "third captain" who approached Elijah humbly in II Kings 1:13.  Obadiah may have indeed been written later by another "Obadiah" not mentioned elsewhere in the Bible, but I am intrigued by the possibility that the author was a contemporary of Elijah.  I like this theory, even if it's not provable!

II Kings 1: A Fiery Prophet

Have you ever noticed how much the prophet Elijah is connected with fire?

Psalm 103: God Is Good

Psalm 103 has always held a special place in my heart ever since, as a young preacher, I was shown the ropes by an elderly pastor who taught me to read this psalm during my hospital visitations.  It provides a beautiful reflection on the goodness of God and a call for everything in creation, especially our own soul, to "bless the Lord."

Friday, January 15, 2016

I Kings 22: Peer Pressure

Have you ever struggled to go against the crowd in order to do what is right?  Then perhaps you can relate to the situation of the prophet Micaiah who stood alone in delivering a dismal message in contrast to 400 other so-called prophets with their happy talk.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

I Kings 21: Eminent Domain

In I Kings 21, I am struck by how Ahab falls into the same trap of abusing his royal power that David did, and how unlike human kings God is in His mercy.

I Kings 20: Lord Of All

"The servants of the king of Aram said to him, "Their gods are gods of the hills, and so they were stronger than we; but let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they" (vs. 23).  Big mistake.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Monday, January 11, 2016

I Kings 18: The Contest

"How long will you waver between two opinions?" Elijah famously challenged the Israelites (vs. 21).  Or, as The Message paraphrase puts it, "how long are you going to sit on the fence?"

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Psalm 102: Looking To God For Help

Where do you turn in your time of greatest need?  If you are a Christian, you would probably answer, "God!"  One of the ways we know that's the right answer is through our reception of the Bible.  The author of Psalm 102 shows us, by example, that God is the One to turn to when all else gives way in life.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

I Kings 17: Introducing Elijah

I Kings 17 introduces Elijah, a prominent figure in both Testaments of the Bible.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

I Kings 16: Easy Come, Easy Go?

While good King Asa of Judah enjoys his 41-year reign in Jerusalem, a succession of kings - and even entire dynastic families - come and go in neighboring Israel.

I Kings 15: Overlapping Reigns

As we read the accounts of the Old Testament rulers, it can be challenging to keep the various kings straight in our minds.  We are tracking two separate nations at this point (Israel in the north and Judah in the south) and the reigns of each ruler often overlap with others.  The biblical narrative switches back and forth to follow the story of both countries.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

I Kings 14: Judgment On Jeroboam - And Judah

In the immediate aftermath of the civil war following the death of Solomon, Judah and Israel are plagued by evil kings.  As a result, judgment falls on both nations.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

I Kings 13: Don't Let Anyone Talk You Out Of Doing What You Know Is Right

I Kings 13 presents a troubling story: a man of God is deceived and dissuaded from his call by a false prophet, and, as a result, he is killed.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Psalm 101: Resolution Of Righteousness

In Psalm 101, David lists several practical ways that he plans to cut off evil and live an upright life.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Ecclesiastes 12: The End Of The Matter

Interested in the bottom line of Ecclesiastes?  Solomon appears to leave us with two competing conclusions.