Have you ever felt unworthy to ask God for something? Maybe you thought it wasn’t important enough or that you didn’t deserve it. In today’s psalm, David admits that he has sinned but he asks for God’s protection and blessing anyway. God wants to know our hearts and wants us to ask for what we need. A good rule of thumb is to repent (this assumes true repentance) and then ask God for what you need.
2 Kings 8:1-9:13:
- 10 – God made it clear that the king would not die from the illness, but he would die soon.
- 15 – Hazael kills the king by putting a wet, heavy blanket on his face and suffocating him.
- 4-6 – Jehu is made king over Israel after quite a line of evil kings.
- 16-24 – Paul drives the evil spirit out of the young women, but her owners, who profited off that spirit are not pleased. They get others on board and beat and imprison the apostles.
- 25-34 – Paul and Silas are miraculously released from prison, but they stay and end up converting the jailer.
- 1-2 – David asks that the Lord would grant his prayers while admitting his own sinfulness and inability to deserve God’s blessings.
- The entire psalm is an earnest prayer asking God to hear him and protect him.
- Presumably the fine would be unwarranted if it was placed on a righteous man.
It’s hard to be a faithful Christian in our society. We are bombarded by temptations and our culture does not lend itself to faithfulness. We are often teased for being prudes or are simply excluded because we might judge others.
Undoubtedly, this is difficult. However, this week, we will read about Paul and several of his companions who had a truly difficult road. Paul was imprisoned, beaten, shipwrecked, and more. He frequently faced outright opposition. And yet, he was determined to spread the gospel to anyone who would listen. He would even say what an honor it was to face persecution for the sake of Christ.
This week, as you read Acts, thank God for the challenges you face in being faithful. If you continually pursue Christ these will eventually prove to be strengthening.
In today’s Acts reading we meet Timothy, Paul’s protégé. Paul mentors and trains Timothy to also be able to minister to early churches and spread the gospel. Paul prepares Timothy for pitfalls, allows him to watch his ministry and travel with him, and encourages him in his gifts. What if we each had a faith protégé?
2 Kings 6:1-7:20:
- Here’s that chart of the kings again, just in case:
- 1-7 – This was not just a party trick or Elisha showing off. The man’s accident with the axe head was done while attempting to be more faithful. Elisha used God’s power to bless his faith.
- 15-19 – Elisha’s servant is given special sight to see what’s going on. The Syrian army is not struck completely blind, but just blind to Elisha’s true identity.
- 20-23 – Though a rare occasion in the Old Testament, the Syrians and Israelites are able to resolve the situation peacefully.
- 25 – People are buying donkey heads and dove poop. Clearly the famine was really bad. They were so desperate they were eating the least desirable part of an unclean animal and paying high dollar for dove poop – which they were probably burning or using for other household tasks – not eating it.
- 26-31 – While this story is absolutely horrifying – here is some background: Joram was the king of Israel. His sins as well as the sins of the people had gotten so out of control that some of the curses associated with breaking their covenant with God had started to occur. Though Joram’s response in verse 31 suggests that the famine and reactions by the people are God or Elisha’s fault, it was actually caused by the ongoing sin of the people.
- 3-20 – The four lepers were Israelites, this is why they tell the king when the Syrians’ camp is empty. The Israelites, like Elisha prophesied, had abundant, affordable food.
- 39-40 – Church disputes happen because we’re human. Like this one, God works good through our failures. Now there are two teams ministering instead of the one they had before.
- 1-5 – Timothy became Paul’s protégé. Paul circumcised Timothy, even though it was no longer truly necessary, to give him credibility with those he would minister to.
- 10 – Note that the narrator goes from being simply a narrator to a participant by starting to use “we”. This is to indicate that Luke, the writer of Acts, has joined the mission team.
- This psalm said it was written when David is in the cave. This is most likely talking about when he was hiding in the cave with some of his men and Saul came in to use the restroom. David had an opportunity to kill Saul, but only cut off a piece of his robe instead.
- At this time David has been anointed as king but is on the run because Saul is still in power and is pursuing him to kill him.
- 24 – We often look to everything else to satisfy us, but wisdom will guide us faithfully where we are supposed to go.
It is far easier to hold onto what we know and never let go, even if it’s not the best thing for us. Change is hard and scary and requires trust. Many of the Jews who became believers were excited about Jesus, but didn’t trust in grace for salvation completely. They wanted to dabble in faith and in trusting the law for holiness. Peter works to make it clear you have to choose one or the other.
2 Kings 4:18-5:27:
- 18-25 – In yesterday’s reading, this child was promised to the woman as a gift from God, and now he dies. The woman’s faith is greatly tested. She puts him on his bed and shuts the door so no one else will know he died. She seeks Elisha to explain what’s going on with her son since Elisha was the one who told her she would have this child.
- 32-44 – Note that there are three miracles in a row. A resurrection, providing food where there is none, and providing more food than there actually was. Any time there are three of something in Scripture, we should pay attention. Elisha is clearly connected to and filled with the power of God.
- 9-10 – Though Elisha invites Naaman to his house, he does not let him in. This is strange considering the hospitality culture of ancient Israelites.
- 11 – Naaman wanted a grand, miraculous healing and thought Elisha’s instructions were a farce.
- 15-16 – It was not unusual for faithful Israelites to turn down gifts from other nations. This was to show their commitment to the provision of God and so no other nation or god could take credit for the Israelites’ well-being.
- 20-27 – Gehazi did not trust the Lord for provision and saw an opportunity. He lied to both Naaman and Elisha and his punishment was receiving the leprosy Naaman had.
- 1-11 – Some Jews, who had become believers, still felt the need to cling to the law and the sign that they were set apart. Peter urges them that the law had not worked for salvation and so it is the grace of Jesus alone that saves.
- 19-21 – Peter makes it clear that Jesus didn’t abolish faithfulness and living to please God. There were still standards. It was just important to know that the law wasn’t a means of salvation.
- 3-4 – David gives God permission to help control his mouth and heart so he can be more faithful.
- 5 – David also welcomes correction from faithful people.
It’s important to read the Bible carefully. If only skimming, stories like the one of the King of Moab sacrificing his son, in today’s Acts reading, could be mistaken for something God wanted or chose. God did not want the king to sacrifice his son. God did not ask him to do that. That was the king’s own evil choice. We tend to read the Bible as if everything is telling us to “go and do likewise”. This is simply not the case.
2 Kings 3:1-4:17:
- 9 – The kingdoms of Israel and Judah had not been united on anything since just after Solomon’s reign.
- 13 – Elisha learned his sass from Elijah. The king of Israel’s parents worshipped Baal. Elisha is pointing out that the king wants the Lord’s help even though he hasn’t been faithful to the Lord.
- 17-19 – It is often the simplest things that prove God’s favor or lack there of. Like when wandering in the desert, the Israelites lack water and God provides it.
- 27 – The King of Moab who sacrificed his son did not do this to honor God. God did not ask this of him.
- 1-7 – The Lord provided for the woman when it seemed impossible. He multiplied the oil to make it profitable for her so she could take care of herself and her son.
- 8-10 – Above and beyond hospitality
- 11-17 – Elisha was blessed and then asked the Lord to bless the woman in return.
- 8-10 – Healings often happened because of faith. This one is simply because Paul saw faith in the crippled man.
- 11-18 – The people assumed that Paul and Barnabas were their gods in human form. This, for obvious reasons, greatly distressed the men of God.
- 19-23 – When Paul later writes about suffering for the sake of Christ, he is not speaking figuratively. He truly had suffered greatly to share the gospel.
- It is pretty incredible that, with so many aggressive enemies, David is still able to focus on and remain faithful to God. At the same time, it is pretty incredible how well God protected David from his enemies.
- Joy, a fruit of the spirit, is more than just enjoyable, it’s life giving.
Psalm 139 is a powerful one about how intimately God knows us and how purposefully he made each one of us. It is futile to attempt to run from him and why would we want to? He knew us before we were born and loved us before our parents knew we were on our way. Here is a modern interpretation of the psalm:
2 Kings 1:1-2:25:
- 2 – Reminder: Ahaziah is the king of Judah. It is obviously not good that he’s seeking advice from Baal-zebub.
- 3 – A little sass from Elijah – clearly God was present, but Ahaziah chooses to consult other gods.
- 8 – This is very similar to the outfit John the Baptist was described to have worn. John the Baptist was considered the second Elijah.
- 9-16 – The first two captains with soldiers the king sent were most likely intending to do Elijah harm, this is why he wants to have them killed. The third captain and soldiers come more peacefully.
- 8 – Very reminiscent of Moses parting the Red Sea.
- 11-12 – Elijah is the second person in the Old Testament who doesn’t die. Enoch was the first who was simply taken to heaven.
- 23-25 – Most commentaries explain this as the boys having such disrespect, as did all their people, for the prophet Elisha or anything else representative of God. Elisha’s curse was also representative of the fate of the rest of the people in the city who rejected God. All in all, this is a strange and disturbing passage.
- 44-47 – The Jews, who were jealous of Paul and Barnabas’ crowd, denounced what Paul was saying. Paul reminds them that Jesus came for them first but was rejected. The gentiles now had a shot.
- 1-7 – Though the readings have, at times, been misinterpreted as such, the Jews weren’t bad. Throughout Acts, many come to faith. Some of the Jewish religious leaders, however, did oppose Jesus’ mission and ministry and cause problems.
- A beautiful psalm explaining the depth to which God knows us. He knew us in our mother’s womb. He knows our movements and our thoughts.
- 23-24 – A powerful request for God to fully search your heart and take away the parts that don’t please him. A difficult prayer to pray, but the results would be life changing!
There are certain things in life that you simply cannot do halfway. You can’t get kind of married. You can’t come to work sometimes (and expect to keep working there). And you can’t love God most of the time. This is what Jehoshaphat tried to do. For the most part, he’s a good guy…but he was only faithful to a point. God is not looking for partial followers or sometimes believers. He is looking for our whole hearts and whole commitment.
1 Kings 22:1-53:
- 5 – Jehoshaphat was willing to go into an alliance with Ahab, but only if the Lord approved it.
- 6-8 – The 400 prophets who gave Ahab the go-ahead were not prophets of the Lord. Micaiah was and he spoke truth from the Lord. Ahab preferred good news to truth.
- 40 – Micaiah was right. Ahab trying to conquer Ramoth-gilead was a bad idea. He dies in battle and Ahaziah takes over.
- 42-44 – It seems that Jehoshaphat intended to honor and worship God, but he failed in certain areas – leaving up certain allegiances to other gods and making an alliance with someone who did not honor God.
- Today’s reading is pretty much the best sermon ever preached.
- 16-25 – Paul sums up the grace of God and the failures of the Israelites from Jacob to John the Baptist.
- 26-41 – Paul explains how Jesus fulfilled all the prophecies the Jews read so frequently and longed to have fulfilled. He also warns them not to be the ones who fulfilled the prophecy that many people would not see and understand.
- So many of David’s psalms show his steadfastness in praising God despite his surroundings or circumstances.
- 17 – True, godly relationships are able to withstand difficulty and trials.
Drama, drama, drama. Look forward to some power struggles, persecution, and more as Paul and the rest of the gang head out to share Jesus with the world.
Did your parents ever forget your birthday? Spouse ever forget your anniversary? It’s both embarrassing and hurtful to be forgotten. When the Israelites lost their home and identity to Babylonian exile, they thought it was because God had forgotten them. God had not forgotten them but simply allowed them to face their consequences he had so long protected them from.
1 Kings 20:1-21:29:
- 1-12 – Ahab realizes that there is little chance they can beat the Arameans. He is willing to concede the best of the Israelites’ possessions, but is not willing to concede the entire city. Even by the way he addresses Ben-Hadad as “my lord and king” it shows that Ahab knows he has lost.
- 22 – God gave the Israelites victory in this battle, but war always returned in the spring. The prophet urges Ahab to strengthen his army in the meantime.
- 27 – Paints a very intimidating picture for the Israelites.
- 31-43 – Once again, Ahab does not follow the instructions of the Lord. God gave Ben-hadad into Ahab’s hands, but Ahab makes a covenant with Ben-hadad in order to gain more land and wealth. The prophet makes it clear that this will result in Ahab’s demise.
- 15 – Doing the right thing doesn’t always protect you from evil.
- 27-29 – After all his wrongdoing, Ahab repents and God has mercy on him and saves his punishment for his son. This seems unfair, but presumably, if the son follows the Lord, the punishment might be postponed again.
- 1 – They mention Manaen’s friendship with Herod because of how shocking it would have been that a friend of a Herod, would have become a believer. One of the Herod’s tried to have Jesus killed as a baby and another could have stopped his crucifixion but didn’t.
- 15 – It is unclear if the rulers of the synagogue are also believers and actually wanted to hear what Paul had to say or if they had some sort of obligation to have him speak.
- 1 – The Israelites were in exile in Babylon for around 70 years. During this time they longed for their culture, home, and identity.
- 6 – Jerusalem and Zion are often hailed because they were where the temple was and the temple represented the Israelites’ connection with God. When the temple was destroyed and the Israelites were driven out of Jerusalem, they wondered if God had forgotten them.
This link is in the notes as well, but seriously, if you’d like Amy Grant to tell you today’s main Acts story, do yourself a favor and watch this video:
1 Kings 19:1-21:
- 8 – Moses, Jesus, and now Elijah have all experienced 40 day fasts. Notice that each of them have just experienced or are simultaneously experiencing the power and glory of God. Jesus had just been baptized and received the Holy Spirit, Moses was on the mountain with God, and Elijah had just seen God consume a bull with fire.
- 11-12 – Often we miss God’s voice and what he’s calling us to do because we’re distracted by the chaos and the big shows. At times, we must be quiet and still to hear him in the whisper.
- 14-18 – Elijah felt very alone in his faithfulness to God and even feared for his life. God made it clear that he was not alone, but that God would take care of those who had been faithful while punishing those who had not.
- 19 – Elijah putting his cloak on Elisha symbolizes a transfer of power.
- 20-21 – Elijah’s response is unclear, but Elisha takes care of a few final things and then begins his life working with and learning from Elijah.
- 3 – Passover was also when Jesus was arrested and killed.
- 6-11 – A thrilling, 80’s, musical rendition of this story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNIO9KH3UC8.
- 12-17 – They assumed that Peter would die in prison and were not expecting to see him.
- We are to love God because of his great love for us. All the things he does for us, because of his love, are icing on the cake.
- 15 – Condoning evil and persecuting good are both equally detestable to God.