The king of Syria sent a great army at night to surround the city of Dothan and attempt kill Elisha. When Elisha’s servant woke up and saw that they were surrounded by this army, he was scared and asked Elisha what they were going to do. Elisha’s response was one that we can use in our lives when we are troubled. “He said, ‘Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”’ (2 Kings 6:16) Elisha then prayed for God to allow the servant to see what He had provided for their protection. The servant saw the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (vs. 17) God showed him these horses and chariots that were protecting them from the horses and chariots of the Syrian army. Our Heavenly Father knows exactly what we need and provides a solution that perfectly meets that need just like he did here with Elisha. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32)
Today’s reading: 2 Kings 6-10
God gave very specific instructions on how to handle a leprous person. Those detailed instructions are recorded in this section of Leviticus. Leprosy is a terrible disease and back then it was usually fatal, but Jesus was able to heal an infected person by just touching him or her. “And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.” (Mark 1:40-42) God provided a method for cleansing a leprous person then and He provides for us today a method for cleansing a sinful person. “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:” (Colossians 1:13-14)
Today’s reading: Leviticus 13-15
Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector. In those days someone with that type of job was thought to be a sinner. We do not know if Zacchaeus cheated people like others with similar jobs, but he at least had that reputation. Jesus spent time at the home of Zacchaeus and that caused some talking. “And when they saw it, they all grumbled, ‘He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”’ (Luke 19:7) Jesus let them know that He was just fulfilling his purpose for coming to earth. “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10) Without Him none of us would have any hope of being saved, but by His sacrifice we all can have hope. “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
Today’s reading: Luke 19-20
It is easy to let things of this world worry us or cause us to be anxious. Paul tells us there is no need to let that happen. “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6) He also advises us to fill our minds with good things. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8) So by staying in communication with our Heavenly Father and focusing our minds on good things, we will have protection from satan. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)
Today’s reading: Philippians 3-4
Ezekiel wrote a parable comparing the Jewish people to a vine. “Your mother was like a vine in a vineyard planted by the water, fruitful and full of branches by reason of abundant water.” (Ezekiel 19:10) That vine grew strong and tall. (vs. 11) This is referring to the times God blessed His people and they prospered. But then the destruction followed. (vs. 12) Time after time they turned against Him. God was patient with them just as He is with us, but time eventually ran out. The parable ends by letting them know this grief was there to stay; “This is a lamentation and has become a lamentation.” His people as physical Israel may have ended, but His people as spiritual Israel continues. “This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.” (Romans 9:8) “For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” (Galatians 3:26-29)
Today’s reading: Ezekiel 19-24
Hate is a strong word. But as Christians there are things that we should hate. “The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.” (Proverbs 8:13) It seems pretty easy to dislike evil, but what about pride? When things are going our way it is easy to start getting a sense of pride in ourselves. James also warns us about being proud. “But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’” (James 4:6) I do not think a single one of us want to do anything that the scripture says God opposes. There is something we can be proud of and boast about. “so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:31) Everything good we have is from God. Forgiveness of our sins and eternal salvation are from Him thru His son, our Savior. Our boasting in Him should be us desiring to share that good news, the gospel, with everyone we meet.
Today’s reading: Proverbs 8-9
The words we have recorded as Psalm 80 in our Bibles are thought to have been written during the Babylonian captivity or possibly during some other time of serious distress of God’s people. Whatever the time, it is obvious the Psalmist desired the saving power that could only come from one source. “Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved!” (Psalms 80:3) Twice more in this same chapter these words are repeated with slight additions. “Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved!” (Psalms 80:7) “Restore us, O LORD God of hosts! Let your face shine, that we may be saved!” (Psalms 80:19) Our Savior was also persistent in His prayer to the Father. (Matthew 26:36-46) Jesus told us to be persistent in our prayer as well when he told the parable of the widow who took her request to the judge until he gave in. “And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” (Luke 18:1)
Today’s reading: Psalms 78-80
Naaman was an important and powerful military man but he also had leprosy. He went to Elisha’s house and stood at the door waiting for help getting rid of his leprosy. “And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, ‘Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.’” (2 Kings 5:10) This sounds like an easy enough solution to his problem, but Naaman seemed to think that this was below him. “But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.” (2 Kings 5:11) Once Naaman listened and followed the command, his problem was resolved. “So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.” (2 Kings 5:14) Just like Naaman, we may not always understand, but following God’s Word will always be the right answer.
Today’s reading: 2 Kings 1-5
Our Heavenly Father wants and deserves our worship of Him. “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28-29) As this passage says, we are to offer to Him “acceptable worship” which implies that worship not done according to His will would be in vain. In the same sentence the Hebrew writer calls God a “consuming fire” which is a description also found in Deuteronomy. “For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” (Deuteronomy 4:24) God showed that He fit this description when two of Aaron’s sons did something that He had not commanded. “Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, which he had not commanded them. And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.” (Leviticus 10:1-2) God has commanded us how to worship Him. We must follow these commands and as Jesus told us, we must follow them while having the proper heart and mind. “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24)
Today’s reading: Leviticus 10-12
Jesus explained our responsibility to others who sin against us. “Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” (Luke 17:3-4) At another time He also explained additional motivation we have for forgiving others. “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15) He also answered Peter’s number question by basically telling him we do not needing to be keeping count of other’s sins. “Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (Matthew 18:21-22) With so many different recorded instances of Jesus talking about us forgiving others, it must be important.
Today’s reading: Luke 17-18