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.
Though there’s always a lot to look forward to in a week’s reading, this week there is a special treat on Tuesday! If you want to be converted all over again, read Paul’s sermon in Acts, which he was surprisingly allowed to give in the synagogue. The apostles were under constant scrutiny and persecution at this time, yet Paul decides to lay out the entire story of our hope for salvation.
This sermon is so powerful and convincing, it makes me think, what was it for you that convinced you to accept Christ as your Savior? Was it a lightning strike moment or a slow process where you finally made a decision? Was it a certain phrase? A song? An experience?
Read Tuesday’s Acts reading and remember your decision for Christ all over again.
The Holy Spirit is kind of like the Cooper Manning, Petyon and Eli’s brother, of the trinity. Cooper is extremely successful and a huge asset to their family, but simply doesn’t get as much publicity. The Holy Spirit, our advocate and guide, is worth knowing. Take a look at this video.
Today’s 1 Kings reading includes a very cool story where we see God show up in power just when it seemed like the bad guys were going to win out. This story also shows us that God doesn’t have to conform to our ideas and constructs. In our understanding, wet wood doesn’t burn. In our understanding, dead people don’t come to life. God disagrees.
1 Kings 18:1-46:
- 7-16 – Though Obadiah was a high-ranking official in Ahab’s kingdom, he followed the Lord. Obadiah, here, fears that Elijah will not present himself to Ahab and Obadiah will look like a liar and be killed.
- 22-24 – Though we are not normally supposed to put God to the test, Elijah, a prophet of God, was clearly intended to do this.
- 27 – Elijah taunts the prophets of Baal as they desperately try to get Baal to show up.
- 39 – God’s power, which proves to be far greater than Baal’s, turns people’s hearts back to him.
- 2 – Yes, the “circumcision party” sounds like a terrible party, but this isn’t actually referring to a party with balloons and confetti. This is simply referring to a group of people who held to Jewish law and custom, but were believers in Christ.
- 4-18 – It’s beautiful that these Jewish believers find great joy in God extending his grace and salvation to gentiles as well.
- 26 – The term “Christian” means “little Christs”.
- This is a psalm recounting a variety of reasons why God is praiseworthy and other gods are not. You could replace verse 8-12 with all the wonderful things God has done for you that give you reason to praise him.
- 12 – Well, I think that sums up how undesirable and destructive folly is.
Peter was a faithful Jew. He followed Christ and taught others about him but still followed the laws he’d been given. In our reading in Acts yesterday and today, Peter’s world is turned upside down as God reveals to him that some of his laws were now secondary to assuring that people knew Christ.
1 Kings 15:25-17:24:
- 25-26 – What’s worse than sinning yourself is also causing others to sin. Nadab sinned like his father and also drug the Israelites down with him.
- The majority of today’s reading chronicles the parade of kings, their terrible choices, and their demises.
- 29-33 – Ahab was the worst of the worst.
- 1 – This is the same Elijah you’ve heard about. He is a powerful prophet.
- 2-7 – This is Elijah, not Ahab, who is living by the brook and being fed by ravens.
- 8-16 – As a widow, she would have had no source of income. It took a great act of faith to risk the little she had on a promise that she would be taken care of.
- 23-29 – Traditionally, a Jew wouldn’t enter the home of another people group. God made it clear to Peter that this was now ok and he no longer needed to keep these types of divisions.
- 34-35 – Remember, Jesus explained that his first mission was to “the lost sheep of Israel” or Israelites who were not faithful. Peter continued that ministry, but now it is clear that ministry has been opened up to people other than the Israelites.
- 44-48 – The Holy Spirit coming to the gentile believers was even more proof than Peter’s words that salvation was available for all.
- 10 – A wise person responds to rebukes while a foolish person can be told over and over and over.