It’s hard for most of us to understand persecution for our faith. The worst we normally have to face is someone ridiculing us for our beliefs. In today’s 1 Thessalonians reading, Paul praises the Thessalonians for enduring persecution for the gospel. As you read it, take a second to pray for those around the world who daily face persecution for the gospel.
- 13-22 – There were many false prophets who were opposing what God was saying through Jeremiah and they were leading the Israelites astray. God tells Jeremiah what to say in response to the false prophets.
- 1-9 – God is not backing down in coming after the false prophets and everyone who follows them.
- 10-21 – Jeremiah is afraid of the people and God confirms his commitment to and protection of Jeremiah. God’s response in verses 19-21 are very powerful.
- 1-15 – The first 13 verses are very bad news for the Israelites. They will face a great deal of destruction. The last two verses give hope, though, that they will eventually be returned to God’s intent for them.
1 Thessalonians 2:10-3:13:
- 13-16 – The Thessalonian believers clearly faced a great deal of persecution as they initially pursued Christ. Paul, multiple times, expresses gratitude for their faithfulness in the midst of it.
- 17-5 – Paul explains why he hasn’t visited Thessalonica again, but why Timothy visited instead.
- 1-13 – Asaph, the psalmist, asks God why he would bother bringing the Israelites out of Egypt only to forsake them later.
- 14-19 – Asaph asks that God returns to the people and restores them.
- 2-3 – God’s mind is far greater than that of a king, but a king’s mind is greater than that of a common person.
- 4-5 – Kings, in order to be faithful and successful, should be taken away from bad advisors and influences.
God does not give us everything we want. That is not said anywhere in the Bible. It does say that God gives us good gifts. It does say that we need to ask and seek God. It does say that he has great plans for us. Today’s Romans reading has a verse that is often misconstrued as, “God will give you anything you ask for.” Be sure to read the whole verse…and the ones surrounding it for that matter.
2 Chronicles 11:1-13:22:
- 1-12 – Like we learned in 2 Kings, Rehoboam, Solomon’s son split off and took only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. This is the portion of Israel that the line of David still possessed.
- 1-5 – Once Rehoboam allowed the Lord to bless and establish him, he abandoned God and his law. Though this sometimes works for a while, ultimately it leads to failure. God made it clear that Rehoboam would fall to Shishak as punishment.
- 4-12 – Abijah, the new king of Judah, from the line of David, is at war with Jeroboam. At this time, Abijah makes it clear that he and the people of Judah are actually following God’s commands while the people still known as Israel are not.
- 24-25 – If we can already see the fruition or completion of something, we do not have to hope it will happen. We already know it will. We can only have hope when we can’t see the end result.
- 26-27 – This is encouragement for us when we say we don’t know how or what to pray. We can trust that the Spirit will give us the words to pray.
- 28 – This is a verse that gets misquoted and misinterpreted often. Note that there are some important caveats. The person has to love the Lord and they have to be called according to his purpose. We cannot simply decide we want something to happen and God grants it. He is not a genie. We have to be working for his purpose out of our love for him. In those cases, God works all things together for good.
- 29-30 – The word “predestined” tends to trip people up. This passage is explaining that God, in his sovereignty, knows us before we can know him and he calls us to become more like his son who is the ultimate model for us.
- 31 – Something to remember when it seems like evil is winning.
- 35-39 – Powerful encouragement that nothing is stronger than the grip with which God holds onto us. He will not allow anything to separate us.
- This is still the Psalm where David is released from his enemies and the pursuit of Saul.
- David continues to give God praise for rescuing him and allowing him to overcome his enemies. This is an excellent Psalm for those who feel that evil is winning in some part of their lives.
- Sometimes circumstances allow or force us to discontinue faithfully listening to wise counsel. Just look at Rehoboam’s story from yesterday’s reading. He ceased to hear instruction to be kind to his constituents.
We all are in need of salvation. Today’s Romans reading reminds us that when we receive salvation, the Holy Spirit dwells within us. Isn’t that incredible!?! The Spirit of the living God lives within us, guides us, and is our advocate! If you’ve been reading and haven’t accepted Christ as your Savior, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to talk with you.
2 Chronicles 8:11-10:19:
- 17-18 – Solomon and Hiram worked together to control the trade routes through the Mediterranean. This was highly lucrative.
- 1-9 – The queen of Sheba’s visit both affirmed Solomon’s wealth and wisdom, and was most likely a strategic move on her part to get in on the trade route action.
- 1-15 – This story, also found in 2 Kings, is the sinful decision to not listen to wise counsel, which led to the ultimate split of Judah and Israel, which led to the exile of both parts of the Israelites. Our decisions have consequences.
- 9-11 – The good news of Jesus! Though our flesh is sinful, as believers, the Spirit is within us. It is the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead.
- 14-17 – Through salvation we are adopted into God’s family.
- This Psalm is still about when God released David from all of his enemies, including Saul.
- While yesterday’s half of the Psalm spoke directly to all the greatness of God, today’s looks a little more at how God’s greatness was able to make David great.
This week we continue in 2 Chronicles and Romans, and as always, our good friends Psalms and Proverbs. In today’s 2 Chronicles reading we hear a story we learned once before in 2 Kings, but it’s worth, once again, exploring, thinking about, and weighing the consequences.
Rehoboam, King David’s grandson, had a guaranteed path to the throne, but he wanted power and control and listened to terrible advice in order to get it. He didn’t trust God’s promises to get him where he needed to be. He tried to flex his muscles to get there instead. And it failed.
Rehoboam didn’t just fail himself. His consequences are still felt today. He caused Israel to become a divided kingdom and weaken tremendously. This put them at risk of being conquered, which they were, and exiled, which they were.
Too often we fail to follow God in our decisions and weigh our consequences. This week, let’s learn from Rehoboam’s mistakes.
Last week we got a brief synopsis of salvation – the basic high points. This week we’ll get to dive into Romans and the nitty-gritty of salvation a little more. We will celebrate that God is so good and loves us so much that we can have true salvation. He sent his Son to die for us! That’s pretty incredible.
Forgive me a small tangent – when I was a kid we only got play shoes twice a year unless something crazy happened. So one summer I got new white tennis shoes. My older brother and sister told me it wasn’t cool to have white shoes and that I needed to dirty them up, so I rolled them in the dirt. My mom was understandably furious! Why? Because you don’t take something new, clean, and great and roll it in the dirt.
This week we’ll learn something new about the gospel. We weren’t given this free, wonderful gift of salvation so that we could roll it in the dirt – aka – sin a bunch. We were given the free gift so we could grow closer to Christ and know and love him more.
When’s the last time you shared the gospel with someone? This is a rare occurrence for modern day Christians. We are afraid that the gospel is offensive and will upset people. Paul, in writing his letter to the Romans, and on every other day of his life (post conversion) realized the gospel was good news. The fact that we have a Savior who lived and died for us is a great thing! Let’s remember that as we approach others who might not know it.
1 Chronicles 12:19-14:17:
- 19-40 – At the time the chronicler is talking about, David was still not king. He had a great deal of men who chose to defect from Saul to him.
- 10 – David was extremely faithful in asking the Lord what to do before doing something.
- 1-7 – There is a lot of information crammed in these verses.
- 1) Paul is writing this.
- 1-2) Paul was set apart to be an apostle of Jesus.
- 2) We knew the truth of the gospel – aka Jesus’s birth, ministry, death, and resurrection – because it was revealed through the prophets.
- 3) Jesus was descended from David.
- 4) Jesus was God in flesh and God’s power raised him from the dead.
- 5-6) Jesus empowers apostles to bring others to him, including many who would hear this particular message.
- 7 – This letter was written to the people of Rome.
- 8-15 – Paul had been eager to go to Rome, where he was a citizen, because he had heard of the faith of many there and wanted to help strengthen that faith.
- 16-17 – We often see the gospel as offensive and we’re afraid to share it. Paul knew that it was good news and brought life. He was not ashamed.
- There are several terms like “Higgaion” and “Selah” whose meanings are not certain. They are presumed to be some sort of musical term since the Psalms often have instructions such as that they are “for the choirmaster”.
- 4 – Just a few verses earlier, the author tells the reader to choose your friendships carefully and here explains that we often choose our friends for the wrong reasons.
Today in both 2 Kings and Proverbs we learn to follow good advice. We are bombarded with all kinds of messages every day of what we simply must do and what is totally absurd to do. Most of these are simply trying to get us to buy something. It is important that we discern those who have our best interest in mind and are steering us in the right direction. Then, like Joash, we need to follow it.
2 Kings 10:32-12:21:
- 12 – Though Athaliah was ruling in Judah, Joash was the rightful king. When he was 7, he was crowned king by Jehoiada the priest.
- 2-3 – Joash is considered a faithful king. Thankfully he had a great advisor, Jehoiada, the priest. The “high places” listed here were places of worship to God, not other gods, that is why it was good that they were kept.
- 4-8 – Joash institutes a plan to repair the temple. The priests don’t comply and then somehow reach a compromise to no longer take people’s money and also not to repair the temple.
- 21 – Now Joash is killed and his son Amaziah takes over.
- 5-6 – It is common throughout Jesus’ and Paul’s ministries that they try to share the gospel with the Jews but when rejected they offer the same message to the gentiles.
- 7-11 – The faithfulness and hospitality of Titius and Crispus allow Paul to stay and minister in Corinth for a year and a half.
- 12 – Macedonia was the northern part of Greece. Achaia was the southern part. Corinth was located in Achaia.
- 14-15 – Like with Jesus, the Jews bring their complaints to the state official.
- 17 – Sosthenes was the chief ruler of the Corinthian synagogue.
- 8 – God’s steadfast, or unchanging, love is a theme throughout the psalms.
- 9-10 – There is no need to doubt that God wants to and plans to be merciful to all of us. We know this full well because of our salvation. Because of that abundant mercy, we should give continual thanks to God.
- Considering what we just read about Joash’s success as a faithful king because he listened to the wise counsel of Jehoiada, this seems pretty accurate.
Everyone has a “bad idea friend”. They’re the friend who is always talking you into things that get you in trouble, cause you to make bad investments, and ultimately make life more difficult. Unfortunately, Rehoboam chose to listen to his “bad idea friends” instead of wise counsel. He had an opportunity to be a great king, but bad ideas get the best of him. It’ll make you think twice about who you take advice from.
1 Kings 11:1-12:19:
- 1-3 – Solomon knew the law and knew the reasoning for the law, but he was unable to withstand his desires and ultimately, it led to his downfall.
- 4-8 – David sinned, but never worshipped or offered any sort of allegiance to other gods. Solomon divided his heart between many gods, this breaks the first and most important commandment.
- 11-13 – God promised that David’s line would be on the throne as long as they were faithful to him. Solomon has already failed there. God had such love for David, though, that he allows his line to stay partially in leadership.
- 36 – It was important for David’s line to stay on the throne because Jesus eventually comes from David’s line.
- 40 – Clearly Solomon had strayed far from God if he was willing to oppose God’s will even to the point of killing God’s chosen future king.
- 6-8 – Rehoboam had a chance to be a beloved king. He only needed to listen to the wise counsel of the older men and lighten the load of the people.
- 8-15 – Rehoboam, instead, listens to his bonehead friends and chooses to increase the difficulty of the people. Rehoboam’s sin ultimately causes the split of the kingdom, which, over time, causes all kinds of problems and makes them so vulnerable that both parts of the kingdom are conquered.
- 2 – “The Way” is what early Christians were called.
- 3-16 – Certainly there were many people who persecuted the early Christians. God had a specific purpose for Saul – to minister to the gentiles – so he converted him dramatically.
- 20-22 – Saul’s conversion was so dramatic because he was well known for persecuting Christians. We know him as Paul, a faithful disciple, so it’s easy for us to believe what he says about practicing our faith, but those who had heard of him previously would have had a difficult time.
- This Psalm indicates humility and reliance, like a young child, on God.
- This proverb seems to describe the actions of a bully and how they will not prosper.
Busyness has become a sort of badge of honor for us these days. If, for some reason, you actually take the time to rest and relax, you get several underhanded “compliments” about how great it must be to not be busy. We fill our time with a bunch of “good things”, but often separates us from the best thing – spending time with God. Take a little inspiration today from Mary and Martha’s story in Luke.
- 5-11 – Moses commands the Israelites to give of their first fruits and acknowledge God’s faithfulness when they have success.
- 18-19 – All nations were not required to give back to God and acknowledge him. Only Israel, his chosen people, were, but that also meant that they received greater blessings.
- 16-26 – The word, “amen’s” meaning is significant as the Israelites’ response because it means “so be it”. In other words, they are accepting the consequences of being cursed if they fail in these areas.
- 38-42 – This is a crucial lesson for those of us who allow busyness to become an excuse for why we don’t spend time with God. We can choose to be consumed with a lot of good things or we can choose what’s best.
- 2-4 – The Lord’s Prayer. Can be used as a guide for our prayers.
- 5-13 – Jesus encourages his disciples to be persistent in prayer, seek what God wants, and expect great things from God.
- 15 – Though advice from others should never trump what God calls us to do, we are to seek wise counsel from those around us who can be trusted.
- 16 – This is a helpful thought for those of us who are easily angered.