Category Archives: Old Testament

2 Kings 2-3; Psalm 48; Matthew 4

While Elijah did some amazing things and created a certain dynamic in his relationship with God, Elisha to me was the one who was a little more meek and perceived the things of God from a different perspective. One that I use more often. I am not known to be loud or bold.

What I love about Elisha coming across the Jordan, to Jericho, is that the prophets saw the change that took place in his life. The Spirit of God anointing His servant changes the individual bringing authenticity to life and ministry.

God, within Your temple,
we contemplate Your faithful love. – Psalm 48:9 HCSB

When I do this, my thoughts turn from a focus of the strength and majesty of God to a consideration of His covenant of love. Charles Spurgeon wrote about three different people in the church and how they should each think and speak more of the faithful love of God.

“Now, my dear sister, you have talked about that rheumatism of yours to at least fifty people who have been to see you; suppose you tell your next visitor about the lovingkindness of the Lord to you.”

“Yes, my dear brother, we all know that trade is bad, for you have told us so, every day, for I do not know how many years. And you have always been losing money, though you had no capital when you started; yet, somehow or other, you have managed to have something left even now. Well, we know that old story; could you not change your note just a little, and talk about the lovingkindness of the Lord?”

“Yes, my friend, I know that many professing Christian people are not all that they profess to be; I have heard you say soever so many times. You say also, ‘There is no love in the church.’ Well, so far as we can see, you are not overstocked with it. You say, ‘There is no zeal among the members,’ but have you any to give away to those who need it? Now, henceforward, instead of always harping on the faults and failing of God’s people – which, certainly, are numerous enough, but have not become any fewer since you talked so much about them – would it not be better to think and talk of the lovingkindness of the Lord?”

Jesus started His ministry after the 40 days and nights of fasting and one of His first acts was to begin calling disciples to follow Him. I am challenged by the bigger picture of loving God and loving others. When I hear the call, I know that I have been called too. I want to respond like the early disciples, that is, to leave my love for anything else in this world and to only love Him.

Father, thank You for loving me. I want to represent Your faithful love to others. May my spirit be so changed, that like Elisha, individuals would see You in me. Amen.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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Filed under 2 Kings, 5 day reading plan, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Matthew, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, reading plan, Uncategorized

1 Kings 22; 2 Chronicles 18; Matthew 2

Jehosophat and Ahab make strange bed-fellows. Jehosophat genuinely wants to seek God’s best, and Ahab just wants his own best. This has to be one of my all time favorite stories in the bible. Every time I must read it multiple times completely envisioning the scene. So, humor me and let’s see how this plays out:

Ahab had pulled out all the stops to get Jehosophat in his corner, and the plotting had finally accomplished its goal. But, Jehosophat had one last request, “Let us just make certain that this military campaign is in obedience to God’s word.”

“Of course, of course!” schmoozes Ahab. “I would never want anything less. Let me just ask all my highly reputable prophets standing by to bring me the Word of the Lord. I have four hundred of them, so one of them is sure to tell us what we want to hear. I mean, well, you know.”

With all the pomp and circumstance he can muster, Ahab calls to them, “Oh prophets of the most high God, Shall we go to battle against Ramoth-gilead,” here his voice takes on a sour note, “or shall I refrain?”

“Go up, for God will give it into the hand of the king,” echoes an immediate chorus of voices from around the crowd.

“That was easy enough,” Ahab thinks as he flashes his most charming smile toward Jehosophat.

Almost ready to make any excuse to leave, Jehosophat tries again, “Maybe my question was not clear. Is there not here another prophet of the LORD of whom we may inquire?”

Ahab’s eyes roll almost into the back of his head as he momentarily loses any semblance of royalty, knowing who he needs to summon. He must force the halting words from his lips, “There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord, Micaiah the son of Imlah; but I hate him, for he never prophesies good concerning me, but always evil.” (Full pout).

Jehosophat has no doubt this is true as it is abundantly clear that Ahab has no genuine desire to hear God’s word if it contradicts his own, but he tucks that response beneath his royal robes and merely says, “Let not the king say so!”

Ahab lets out a deep sigh and realizing there is no escaping the inevitable, snaps at the nearest officer, “Bring Micaiah. Quickly.”

The hundreds of prophets around them continue to babble their meaningless “prophecies” of great military success. One had created horns out of some handy iron scraps and as he mimics a bull charging into a crowd creatively says, “Thus says the LORD, ‘With these you shall push the Syrians until they are destroyed.'” Back slaps all around with that one. One after another steps forward or shouts from the back urging the kings to go and fight and win with God’s blessing.

On the other side of town, the messenger reaches Micaiah. “The king wants you to come. Let me warn you, all the prophets are speaking in unity that God favors his plans to fight Ramoth-gilead. Be like them this time, Micaiah, for your sake.”

Wondering why he should even both going with that invitation, Micaiah knows he cannot avoid this encounter. As soon as they reach the kings (who had continued to hear the prophets blathering like fools the entire time they waited), Ahab asks for his advice.

Micaiah has no respect for this ruler that ignores God’s laws and has compromised his people. Micaiah leans against a pillar, picking at his fingernails, “By all means, go up and triumph. Sounds like a winner to me,” he deadpans.

Ahab grips the arms of his throne in exasperation, “How many times shall I make you swear that you speak to me nothing but the truth in the name of the LORD?” As if Ahab ever really wanted the truth.

Straightening up, but his face still clearly clouded by doubt, Micaiah takes a breath and delivers the true word of the Lord. It is not what Ahab wants to hear.

Spit flies from Ahab’s mouth as he jerks toward Jehosophat and gestures toward the one dissonant voice, “Do you see what I mean? I told you so! He never has anything nice to say about me.” (More pouting)

But, Micaiah wasn’t done. God had more to say through his lips, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing on his right hand and on his left. 19 And the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab the king of Israel, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said one thing, and another said another. 20 Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, saying, ‘I will entice him.’ And the Lord said to him, ‘By what means?’ 21 And he said, ‘I will go out, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And he said, ‘You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go out and do so.’” (2 Chronicles 18:18-21 ESV)

Zedekiah cannot stand the insult to his name and family. He steps forward, slapping Micaiah across the face, “Oh really? A spirit made me lie? Tell me this, since you know so much. Which way did the Spirit of the LORD go from me to speak to you?” and he turns on his heel and walks off with his head raised.

Micaiah goes to jail (until Ahab returns from his “certain” victory). The armies go to war. Ahab dies. God saves Jehosophat. And we have a few lessons to learn.

Who am I listening to?

Am I discerning in my listening?

Do I hear only what I want to hear?

Do I ignore God’s word if it contradicts how I want to believe or think?

Do my prayers genuinely invite God into the conversation and situation?

Am I more like Ahab or Jehosophat?

So much food for thought when we try to see ourselves in the people of the bible.

God, give me your wisdom. Wisdom to hear, discern, and submit. May I never re-interpret your words to make them fit my preferred narrative. May I never simply make a show of reading your words to check a box that I tried. May I never pray without a genuine desire to hear from you and follow. Surrendered fully to your plan is my heart’s desire. In Jesus name, amen.

Erin (6intow)

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Ecclesiastes 10-12; 2 Timothy 4

13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 ESV

Judgement. The penetrating, righteous declaration of a loving God will one day declare the ultimate “end of the matter.” At that time, all will be laid bare and it will be abundantly clear if we have followed Him sincerely. God knows the secrets of my heart. He knows if I have godly desires or self-driven agendas. There is no fooling Him, even if at times I might be able to convince myself that my ill-conceived motives are noble.

Ultimately, my salvation rests in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but that does not mean I can relax or tolerate sin in my life. The Christian life is an intentional life. Choosing to live, obey, and deny myself.

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.

2 Timothy 4:1-2 ESV

Paul might have been specifically speaking these words to a preacher, but they also carry broader application. All believers have access to the truth of God’s word and are preachers throughout each day. Sometimes only to myself, sometimes to my kids, in Bible study, small groups, classes, with friends. My pulpit might look like a lawn chair around a campfire or the passenger seat of a car, but wherever I speak, I need to be ready to speak The Truth. I need to be careful though to not cross that line between preaching and being preachy.

I must be a constant student of God’s Word so that I can accurately represent it as I have opportunity. Expanding each word in verse two based on an interlinear text it goes something like this: To share the message publicly with conviction both when it is convenient and welcomed and when it is inconvenient and rejected; convincing with solid evidence to expose truth and error, warning others to prevent them from going down the wrong path, being a spiritual advocate, with extensive and intensive patience through a summarized body of reliable, time-honored teaching.

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

2 Timothy 4:6-7 ESV

Living out my faith can be exhausting. It is pouring out my life on behalf of others. It is speaking up when silence is less complicated. It is fighting for what matters. It is running an ultra-marathon and then a Spartan Beast, and then an Ironman Triathlon, week after week, year after year. Not in my own strength, because that would never get me through the first leg. But, if I’m not pouring out, fighting, and racing, I’m missing the amazing gift that comes when you completely deplete your own resources and begin to fight and race only with His.

Only by faith.

Lord God, long ago I reached the end of myself and yet I still wake up thinking I can do today on my own. Call me to your side again. Help me speak Your words, love with Your love, discern with Your wisdom, and run by Your strength. Not giving up when the way demands more than I have, but plunging so deeply into You that there is always more to draw on. In Jesus name, amen.

Erin (6intow)

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Ecclesiastes 7-9; Psalm 46; 2 Timothy 3

I watched a lot of black and white movies and a lot of musicals when I was back home, as a child, with my family. Here is a clip I pulled, Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life. The solution to the question of the mystery of life was love.

“For it is love alone for which the world is seeking; and it is love alone which can repay.”

Solomon had not reached that conclusion yet. He is stuck on the secret of life being significance, meaningfulness, and a sense of contentment about one’s life.

There is a little more clarity here.

Therefore we will not be afraid,
though the earth trembles
and the mountains topple
into the depths of the seas,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with its turmoil. – Psalm 46:2-3 HCSB

When God is on my side, how irrational fear is. Where God is there is all power and all love – why would I ever be afraid?

However, I know I can make my own choice, as Solomon did.

But know this: Difficult times will come in the last days. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid these people! – 2 Timothy 3:1-5 HCSB

Lovers of ourselves, love of self and focused more on self-love – they all have the word love in these expressions, but are not the words that would describe God when we say that God is love.

Love is only powerful when it reflects the very nature of God and my walk with God reveals that I have spent time with Him when in fact I have loved others as I have loved Him and He me.

Father, I want to mature in my love for You and for others. There is another way to live this life fulfilled, with meaning and with significance and that is to wrap myself in Your love and be changed by it. May my heart realize that when I am in You and You in me, I walk this life with no fear, and why should I? You walk with me. I am not sure how it is that I easily find myself thinking more about myself than others – forgive me. Teach me who I should spend time with in fellowship so that I will be encouraged and built up to serve You faithfully. Amen.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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Ecclesiastes 1-3; Psalm 45; 2 Timothy 1

“Vanity, Vanity, all is vanity.”

Oft quoted. Sometimes even correctly attributed to the bible. But, what does it really mean, and what is the greater truth behind the statement?

I love digging into the original languages of Scripture and here we find the word “hebel” that is translated vanity. Hebel refers to something that is short-lived. Other translations of this word include the following: delusion, emptiness, fleeting, fraud, futile, mere breath, nothing, useless, vapor, worthless.

Calling everything vanity is not giving it any compliments.

Next, we need to ask, “What is vanity? What is worthless?” (aside from the obvious, “all”)

What does man gain by all the toil
    at which he toils under the sun?
A generation goes, and a generation comes,
    but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises, and the sun goes down,
    and hastens to the place where it rises.
The wind blows to the south
    and goes around to the north;
around and around goes the wind,
    and on its circuits the wind returns.
All streams run to the sea,
    but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
    there they flow again.
All things are full of weariness;
    a man cannot utter it;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
    nor the ear filled with hearing.
What has been is what will be,
    and what has been done is what will be done,
    and there is nothing new under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 1:3-9 ESV

Nothing new under the sun, just lots of same ol’, same ol’ and chasing after the wind.

Solomon searched the earth for some type of meaning, purpose, or value. He tried it all. He poured himself into his work, he indulged every impulse, he achieved power and wealth, even in his wisdom he found only “vanity”– emptiness, a fraud.

That’s a little depressing. Is life just meaningless then?

10 I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. 12 I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; 13 also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.

Ecclesiastes 3:10-13 ESV

Even in this vapor we call life, there is a meaning beneath the surface. In God’s love for us, He gave us this beautiful gift called life. Yes, it is full of ups and downs. Days of success and days we want to crawl back in bed, or worse. But all of that is beautiful in its time. Today I was chatting with a lady who was remembering her days of living in an urban setting and how parking tickets and getting her car towed unfortunately seemed to come with the territory. Now she can laugh about it. At the time it was a huge frustration. Now, it is a beautiful piece of the fabric of her life that even makes her smile at the memory.

22 So I saw that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his work, for that is his lot.

Ecclesiastes 3:22a ESV

I might see an awful day (or even a good one) as mere vanity, but God’s weaving of my life takes light and dark threads. Not for my glory, but for His. Any earthly accomplishments are useless if not done in joy for God’s glory.

My heart overflows with a pleasing theme;
    I address my verses to the king;
    my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.

Psalm 45:1 ESV

The psalmist learned this. His tongue was ready to verbalize praise to God. He was ready, waiting for the opportunity. Sometimes the chance knocks me over the head before I take a breath and realize the perfect circumstance for praising God surrounding me.

Every moment is favorable for praise.

Promotion, lost job. Graduation, failure. Birth, death. Pain, ecstasy. Love, indignation. Fear, confidence. Change, stability. Dark, light. Progress, regression. Feast, famine.

All of it can usher us into the throne room to worship.

14 By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you. 2 Timothy 1:14 ESV

Guard – from the Greek Phulasso. To guard, watch, constantly. Uninterrupted vigilance.

Both mountain-tops and valleys can pull our focus away from God, yet if we guard the spiritual gift of faith that we have, we will find them both a perfect time to praise Him. Uninterrupted vigilance will keep our eyes open to the spiritual perspective.

Awesome Creator-God, You have given me many gifts that I do not steward as carefully as I should. Strengthen my vigilance that it may truly be uninterrupted in guarding the purity of my faith in You and Your word. I want to worship You in each moment and learn the lessons and celebrate the moments that You place in my path. Help me to find the joy in the journey and not just rush through forgetting that You are my purpose. In Jesus name, amen.

Erin (6intow)

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