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.
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.
There are two Sauls in Scripture. The first was the first king in Israel. The second is better known as Paul, which he was called after his conversion. The second Saul was a persecutor of Christians, a devout and learned Jew, and was at least partially responsible for having the first Christian martyr killed. Soon we’ll read about his commitment to and leadership in spreading the gospel. Isn’t it incredible how God can redeem anyone?
1 Kings 8:1-66:
- 1-11 – The temple is finally built and the priests move the Ark of the Covenant into the Holy Place of the temple, representing God’s presence. This must have been such a exciting, emotional time for all the Israelites.
- 20-21 – The Israelites were promised particular land when they left Egypt. Since then, they had wandered for years, and then fought over the land and other things for years. Now they were finally at peace and where they belonged. This ceremony solidified God’s promises being fulfilled.
- 25 – Clearly David sinned, so God was obviously not setting the bar at perfection. He was simply asking kings to follow him. Many chose not to.
- 27-53 – A beautiful prayer from Solomon asking God for favor, mercy, forgiveness, and protection. He clearly loves God and loves his people.
- 57-58 – God does not force us to choose or follow him. When we allow it, he can draw us to him or incline our hearts toward him, which makes it easier to follow him.
- 51-53 – Stephen is addressing a Jewish audience, which is why he speaks of their fathers not listening to the prophets. Saying they have uncircumcised hearts and ears would directly accuse them of not being God’s people. Circumcision was part of their culture and identity as Jews.
- 58 – This is the same Saul who becomes Paul. The Jews laying their garments at Saul’s feet shows that he was heavily involved in Stephen’s death.
- 60 – Stephen was the first martyr for Christ.
- 1 – The early Christians were scattered around 70 A.D. when the temple was destroyed.
- 3 – Saul was a terrifying persecutor of Christians. He was a devout Jew.
- This psalm denounces anyone who is against Israel and specifically Jerusalem.
- Though many of us seek wealth for our families, peace is a far greater blessing.
It is easy to get caught up in what is and isn’t fair in the Bible. Often times we discount the things that aren’t fair and even sometimes wonder if the unfairness of it somehow makes God not good. For instance, in today’s 2 Samuel reading, David shuns some of his concubines that his son slept with. In other words, the concubines are punished for someone else’s poor behavior. It’s not fair. In these situations we have to remember that we’re reading about the actions of sinful people, not God. It’s also important not to place our own cultural understandings on this very different culture.
2 Samuel 19:11-20:13:
- 11-15 – David is letting the Israelites who deserted him and followed Absalom know that he will accept them back.
- 13 – Amasa was Absalom’s military leader. David ousts Joab after he kills Absalom.
- 18-23 – Shimei was the man David encountered while fleeing Jerusalem who shouted and cursed at David.
- 24-30 – During David’s escape Ziba accused Mephibosheth of supporting Absalom so David gave Ziba all their land. Now he is somewhat reconciling.
- 41-43 – As the Israelites welcome back David as king, they begin to fight over who should get to welcome him first.
- 3 – These are the women Absalom had sex with while David was away. Though it wasn’t their choice, David still shuns them as partners, but continues to provide for them.
- 7 – Peter and the unnamed disciple are mentioned together again. Once again, the unnamed disciple makes the discovery and Peter takes extreme action to get to Jesus.
- 15-19 – Some say that Jesus asked Peter if he loved him three times as a sign that he forgave him for the three times he denied Christ during his trial.
- 25 – Sure makes you wonder what else he did.
- Our attempts at peace are not always received, but we should continue to try.
- It is rare that we put much of anything above the pursuit of wealth, but this proverb confirms that wisdom and understanding are far more valuable.
Some things just don’t make sense…to us. In today’s reading in Joshua we read a verse that we could read over quickly and never think about it again. It says, “And the Lord gave them rest on every side.” The context, however, is that they had just taken over lands from other nations and normally this would have caused an uprising somewhere. The other context, though, is that God promised them peace, which trumps everything. God makes crooked paths straight.
- 1-3 – The Levites, which were the priests, were given no inheritance by God, but they were instructed to take what was given to God as theirs. The Israelites pony up cities and pasturelands to fulfill this stipulation.
- 44 – Nations were at war over borders, property, and power constantly. It is very unusual that Israel would have taken land from a number of nations and then had a time of complete peace.
- 45 – We can trust that the promises God makes us are true. He does not fail.
- 1-6 – Joshua commends these tribes for obeying God’s commands well and clearly the tribes are blessed because of it. God’s requests of us are simple, but it is up to us to choose to follow or not.
- 16 – The sin they’re referring to building an altar that would compete with the one God commanded. God had designated where he wanted to receive offerings and this was not it. Though the Israelites may have built it with good intentions, they did not seek God in their decision.
- 1-8 – Jesus frequently answers a question with a question to avoid falling into the traps of religious leaders.
- 9-18 – This parable represents God sending multiple prophets to try and bring the Israelites back to God, but each was rejected. Finally God sends his Son, Jesus, and he is not only rejected but killed.
- 21-26 – Jesus shows that Caesar’s image was on the coin so it’s fine to give Caesar the coin, but God’s image is on each of us so we are to give ourselves fully to him.
- 3-4 – David’s throne through all generations was fulfilled when Jesus, from the line of David, filled the throne forever.
- 16 – This is reminiscent of the saying, “If someone tells you they’re crazy, believe them.”