Thursday, June 30, 2011

June 30- The End of A Kingdom

June 30, 2011

Scripture Readings:
2 Kings 17:1-18:12; Acts 20:1-38;
Psalm 148:1-14; Proverbs 18:6-7

Now, this is not the end.  It is not even the beginning of the end. 
But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. 
~Winston Churchill

2 Kings 17:1-18:12

An Ancient Assyrian
We have seen throughout God's story that Israel plays a major role as the chosen people group who are set apart for a purpose.  Their history with God is a picture of an adulterous wife who cheats on her husband.  Israel is a picture of all of humanity.  Their sin and fallen nature is our sin and our fallen nature.  Their inability to be "good enough" is also ours.  Today, we see that the conditional covenant that God made with Israel regarding their possession of the Promised Land is partially fulfilled when the Northern Kingdom of Israel breaks their end of the bargain to obey God and follow Him only, and God exiles them to Assyria.  Not all Israelites have been taken out of the land as God promised, but the Jews of the Northern Kingdom see that God meant what He said. God will fulfill this promise to the Southern Kingdom, later.

In Deuteronomy 29:26-28 God warned,
"They went off and worshiped other gods and bowed down to them, gods they did not know, gods he had not given them. Therefore the Lord's anger burned against this land, so that he brought on it all the curses written in this book. In furious anger and in great wrath the Lord uprooted them from their land and thrust them into another land, as it is now."
Our reading today focuses on the capture of the Northern Kingdom of Israel by Assyria.  Because of their steadfast rebellion against the One True God, the Lord fulfills His promise to vomit them forth from the Promised Land, just as He vomited out the Canaanites when Israel took over the land. 

King Hoshea tries to form an alliance with King So of Egypt to stop tribute payments to the king of Assyria.  Furious, the King of Assyria lays seige to Samaria for three years.  The siege is successful and Samaria falls to the Assyrians.  The Israelites are moved to colonies along the Habor River and foreigners are sent to live in Samaria.  The Bible is clear as to why this  happens.  Here are some of the offenses against God of which the Israelites were guilty:
  • They worshiped other gods. Vs. 7
  • They imitated the practices of the pagan nations. Vs. 8
  • They built pagan shrines for themselves . Vs. 9
  • They set up sacred pillars and Asherah poles on every hill and under every tree. Vs. 10
  • They burned incense to idols. Vs. 11
  • They worshiped idols. Vs. 12
  • They rejected God's laws. Vs. 15
  • They made two calves of metal to worship. Vs. 16
  • They worshiped Asherah, Baal, and the forces of heaven. Vs. 16
  • They sacrificed their sons and daughters in the fire of Baal. Vs. 17
  • Theyconsulted fortune-tellers and used sorcery. Vs. 17
  • They sold themselves for evil. Vs. 17
These behaviors did not meet God's conditions for being able to stay in the Promised Land and as a result, He swept them from the land.  It is interesting to note that the foreigners who are brought to live in Samaria are initially attacked by lions because they are not acknowledging the God of the Promised Land.  When they are instructed about the Lord and begin to worship Him, albeit half-heartedly, the lion attacks stop.

Now, we are introduced to King Hezekiah of the Southern Kingdom of Judah.  He is a good king and the best king that Judah has had since King David.  We see that he tears down the pagan shrines, smashes the sacred pillars, and knocks down the Asherah poles.  Apparently, the people of Judah had taken Moses' bronze snake staff and started worshiping it as an idol and calling it, Nehushtan.  Hezekiah breaks it apart.  Because of his faithfulness, the Lord is with Hezekiah and he successfully revolts against the King of Assyria.

Lessons:  God is faithful to fulfill His promises.  There are consequences for sin.  Faithfulness to God results in God's blessings.

Are you faithful to obey God like King Hezekiah?

Acts 20:1-38

Yesterday, we read about the riot in Ephesus.  Today, Paul leaves Ephesus and goes to Troas.  After the Passover, he arrives in Troas and gathers with some believers to celebrate the Lord's Supper.  Because he is leaving the next day, Paul talks a long time to try to impart all of his knowledge well into the night.  It is hot and dim in the room and a young man named Eutychus falls asleep while leaning on an open window. He falls down three stories to his death.  Paul takes the man into his arms and the man's life is restored.  Paul then continues talking til dawn. Wow. That man could talk and talk and talk. 

Paul was compelled to hurry to Jerusalem.  On his way, he stops in Miletus and calls the elders of the church in Ephesus to come down to see him in Miletus.  When they arrive, he gives a heart wrenching good bye speech to them.  The Holy Spirit has revealed to Paul that he will suffer greatly in jail and in the cities to which he goes in the future. Paul does not consider his own life worth anything except when he is doing the work of the Lord.

Paul is firm that he has been faithful.  He has focused on a simple message...that both Jews and Gentiles need to turn from their sins and turn to God through faith in Jesus Christ. He warns the elders to feed the sheep and beware of false teachers.  He entrusts the church in Ephesus into God's hands and reminds the men that he never coveted any one's money or fine clothing.  He worked and paid his own way.  He was an example of giving to the poor and always followed Christ's teaching that it is better to give than to receive.

As he prepares to leave these men, they kneel and pray.  As they embrace, they weep loudly because they will never see this precious man who brought them the truth of God, again. Paul is a picture of how the Holy Spirit can transform a person's life into one of truth, obedience, faithfulness, servanthood, and humility. 

Lesson:  The Holy Spirit of God transforms our lives once we believe in Jesus.  It is through the Holy Spirit that we are sanctified and become more like Jesus.

Have you experienced change in your life through the Holy Spirit?  Maybe it is through changed habits, sins, attitudes or thinking that you have seen the power of God in your life.

Psalm 148:1-14

Praise the Lord!  I encourage you to say this psalm aloud today.  He is worthy of your praise.

Proverbs 18:6-7

If you are constantly in quarrels with people, it is possible that you are a fool.

What did you notice today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

June 29- The Predictability Of Intrigue and Deceit

June 29, 2011

Scripture Readings:
2 Kings 15:1-16:20; Acts 19:13-41;
Psalm 147:1-20; Proverbs 18:4-5

They are getting me involved in intrigue again, 
and I think it follows a classic formula in a soap opera.  
~Michael Zaslow

2 Kings 15:1-16:20

When dealing with the history of royals throughout the world, the predictability of intrigue and deceit is overwhelming.  If you look at the kings of England, for instance, there are stories of betrayals, assassinations, brutality, and abuse.  Such is the way of people who are fighting and clawing for power.  Today, we see that deceit and intrigue continue for the kings of Israel and Judah.

King Amaziah is dead and now his son, Uzziah becomes the king of Judah.  He is considered a good king, but does not tear down the pagan idols in his kingdom. The Lord strikes him with leprosy that lasts until his death.  Because of this his son, Jotham, has to run the daily affairs of the kingdom.

Up north, Zechariah is assassinated and Shallum comes to power.  He only lasts one month because a guy named Menahem goes on a massive killing spree and becomes the king.  He gets assassinated by Pekah. Pekah gets assassinated by Hoshea.  Do you see how predictable the intrigue and deceit gets?  Bad kings who live apart from God live in sin and die in sin.

After Jotham reigns in Judah, Ahaz, his son becomes the king.  Ahaz is an evil man who sacrifices his own son to pagan gods.  Instead of making offerings in the Temple, he offers sacrifices and burns incense under every green tree in his kingdom.  He becomes a vassal of King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria in order to avoid being destroyed by Aram and Israel.  When he visits this king, Ahaz notices a beautiful pagan altar.  He sends a model of this altar to Uriah the priest of the Lord's Temple and has him copy this altar to be used at the Temple of God.   Ahaz ignores the Laws of Moses and the instructions on how God wants His Temple to be adorned and instead, puts a pagan altar for use in God's Temple.  His rebellion against God is evidenced in these actions.

Lesson:  Sin leads to a seared conscience.  With habitual rebellion against God comes the inability to see your sin.  Avoid habitual sin.  It leads to death.

Acts 19:13-41

Have you ever heard the saying, "Monkey see, monkey do?"  Today, we see a group of Jews trying to imitate the miracles of Paul.  They are trying to cast out demons by proclaiming the name of Jesus who Paul preaches.  The problem with their attempts is that they do not have the Holy Spirit inside of themselves with which to approach the evil spirits.  At one attempt to cast out an evil spirit, the spirit says to the Jews, " I know Jesus and I know Paul, but who are you?"  The spirit then attacks the men and they flee from the house, naked and badly injured.

What do we learn from this story?
  • Demons know Jesus.
  • Evil spirits exist.
  • Spirits can take on human voices to communicate with humans.
  • Demons are aware of who has the Holy Spirit in them.
  • Demons cannot attack Paul because he has the Holy Spirit.
  • Without the protection of the Holy Spirit, people are susceptible to demonic possession and attack.
  • You can't fake the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • Demons know the Holy Spirit.
  • The Holy Spirit is more powerful than evil spirits.
Trouble begins to stir in Ephesus when a silversmith named Demetrius gets the local trade unions to unite against the preaching of the gospel that Paul and his companions are doing.  Demetrius argues that their goddess Artemis is having her reputation and glory besmirched by these men.  It also is putting their successful shrine and idol business at risk.  The crowd becomes a mob and heads to the local amphitheater where they chant for two hours, "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians."  Picture the recent mobs throughout the Middle East who have chanted for freedom.  This is what it would have been like.  They are eventually settled down and dispersed.

Lesson:  The gospel will change lives and may change fortunes, as a result.  This is not always met with enthusiasm. People like to chant.  Screaming something repeatedly does not make it true.

Do you have riches or work that get in the way of following Christ?  Has the truth of Jesus ever ruffled the feathers of anyone you know?


Psalm 147:1-20

God is worth singing praises to!  We could chant this psalm and feel good about it.  I like that God heals the brokenhearted and binds up the wounds of those who are hurt.  I like that He counts all the stars and names them.

Proverbs 18:4-5

Words can be life-giving water.  Have you ever nourished someone's thirst with your words.  This is what the Apostle Paul is doing on his mission trips.

What did you like that you read today?  Why not share?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

June 28- Sin Is Boring

June 28, 2011

Scripture Readings:
2 Kings 13:1-14:29; Acts 18:23-19:12;
Psalm 146:1-10; Proverbs 18:2-3

One can dream of something more terrible than a hell where one suffers;
 it's a hell where one would get bored. 
~Victor Hugo

2 Kings 13:1-14:29


Have you noticed that if you turn off the television and shut down the computer and ban video games, the modern generation of children collectively say, "I'M BORED." Well, they should learn to go outside, use their imaginations to pretend, play hours of cards like I did as a child, take up the game of jacks, or read a good book.  Anyway, if you think being without a TV is boring, let me give you something else that is even more boring...sin.  Take for instance a person who is a drunk or a drug addict.  At first their edgy behavior may seem intriguing.  As their life progresses and they are consumed by the need to have their drug of choice, their lives become sadly predictable and boring.  They waste their potential as a human being and sit around stoned.  Duh. Boring.  This is what we are experiencing as we read about the bad kings of Israel and Judah.  They are doing the same old thing, idolatry, idolatry, idolatry.  It's boring.  It is more exciting to see God work than to see people sin.

You may remember that Elisha wept when he saw the prophecy of how Hazael would become king of Aram and make life miserable for Israel.  Today, we are reading about the fulfillment of that prophecy.  Jehoahaz is king over the Northern Kingdom of Israel and Hazael is defeating them repeatedly in different cities.  We see that Hazael has had such an impact that Israel is reduced to fifty mounted troops, ten chariots, and ten thousand foot soldiers.  Ouch!  It should be noted that the Bible tells us that they were still setting up Asherah poles.  Think of a stripper pole where they come and have sex when you read about an Asherah pole.  It was an ancient excuse for a combination of pornography and religion, mixed.


Jehoahaz dies and his son, Jehoash, becomes king of Israel.  Is your brain getting fried by all these names that sound just alike and are hard to pronounce?  Mine is. Anyway, Jehoash goes to an elderly and sick Elisha to ask for help.  Elisha has him shoot an arrow out the window to picture that the Lord will give him victory over Aram.  He tells Jehoash to strike the arrows on the ground.  Jehoash strikes three times.  Elisha is angered because the strikes represented the number of times the Lord would defeat the Arameans and Jehoash only struck three times.

Elisha dies and we read an amazing story surrounding his death.  He was buried in a cave.  Some Israelites are trying to avoid some Moabite raiders, who would raid cities once the weather was good and the seeds were planted for crops.  They throw the body of a friend that needs to be buried into Elisha's cave.  When the man's dead body touches Elisha's bones, the man resurrects to life.  Even in death, Elisha is a picture/shadow/type of Christ.  Just as this man received new life as he came in contact with Elisha's death, we receive new life as we identify with Christ and his sacrificial death!  God loves pictures and we learn from His illustrations the Truth of life.


Elisha's prophecies come true and Jehoash's prayers are answered.  Israel does defeat Aram three times.  Eventually, King Amaziah of Judah is feeling proud because he has had successful battles against the Edomites.  He challenges King Jehoash to a battle.  Pride goes before a fall, and Amaziah is defeated in battle.  Six hundred feet of the walls of Jerusalem are destroyed. The treasury from the Temple is taken, and hostages from Judah are carried off to Samaria, the capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel.  Amaziah dies, and his sixteen year old son, Uzziah, becomes king of Judah.  Meanwhile, Jeroboam II becomes king in Israel in the Northern Kingdom.

The Scriptures tell us that there was great suffering for Israel at this time.  They are constantly at war and are being antagonized by their enemies.  May I say that this is a picture to all of us that living apart from the will of God is a bad place to be.  Sin is boring and miserable.  Reading about the Israelites following idols and getting beat up by their enemies is boring and miserable.  May we all learn the lessons of life with God and the lessons of life apart from God.

Lessons:  Although sin may seem enticing, it leads to death.  Without the finger of God in one's life, the human condition spirals into predictable chaos.  There is nothing new under the sun.  God is what brings light and hope into our human condition.  Embrace repentance from sin and obedience.  That is where one can experience true adventure.

Have you ever thought about your habitual sins being boring?  Why not throw them off?  Rely on God for renewed power to overcome predictable transgressions.

Acts 18:23-19:12

Now, we get to some exciting reading.  God is working in Europe and Asia.  The story of Jesus is spreading throughout the world.  Talented and dedicated people are rising up to take on the task of spreading the gospel.  Today, we meet an extremely gifted speaker named Apollos.  Being well versed in Scripture, Apollos has been converting people to Christ and instituting the baptism of John the Baptist.  When Priscilla and Aquila hear his bold preaching, they take him aside and explain the baptism of the Holy Spirit to him.  We learn that Apollos has great power in his preaching and is able to refute the Jews in debate in the city of Achaia.  We can learn several lessons in this story. 

Lessons:  When the Holy Spirit moves it is exciting and transformational.  The early preachers of the gospel were well versed in Scripture and well prepared to defend their faith.  Good teachers are also good students.  Notice that Apollos is humble enough to be corrected by Priscilla and Aquila.  Humility and teachability are signs of a true believer in Christ and a good leader.

I took this pic on my trip to Ephesus
The Apostle Paul goes back to Ephesus and has a tremendous impact on that port city in Asia (Turkey). We see that the believers in Ephesus are also following the baptism of John.  Paul explains to them that John's baptism was a baptism to demonstrate a desire to turn from sin and turn to God through Jesus.  Paul teaches them that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is in identification with the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Once baptized in the Holy Spirit, the confirmation of their baptism is seen with the same signs seen at Pentecost.  They spoke in known foreign languages and prophesied about the truth of the Scriptures in these languages.

Paul lectured initially in the synagogue in Ephesus, but eventually moved to the Hall of Tyrannus.  He stayed for two years in Ephesus.  God blesses Paul's ministry here and amazing and unusual miracles are a part of the confirmation of God's blessings on Paul's work.  Modern Ephesus is no longer a port city.  I have visited the ruins of Ephesus and can testify to the wealth and prominence that this city once possessed.  It was basically a city of marble.  The streets were marble and the buildings were marble.  There were beautiful marble-lined streets with magnificent buildings including an impressive library and multi-story condominiums that were built into the side of a mountain.  To walk the streets of ancient Ephesus is to feel the highly developed civilization of the times.  Paul's ministry would have impacted countless people as the city had many traders and business people that came and went in the port.  It would also have been a vacation spot for the wealthy. 

The blessings of God are exciting.  Peoples lives are changed for the better.  Sick people are healed and demon possessed people are set free.  What a joy to read about the power of the Holy Spirit.

Lessons:  God uses the right people at the right time to do the right things.

Are you being used by God in this way?

Psalm 146:1-10

I like that this psalm warns us to not put our faith in powerful people, but in the Lord.  Here are some of the verbs that speak of what the Lord does for us: created the heavens and the earth, keeps promises, gives justice, feeds the hungry, frees the prisoners, opens the eyes of the blind, lifts burdens, loves the righteous, protects foreigners, cares for orphans and widows, frustrates the plans of the wicked, and reigns forever.  Not bad.

Proverbs 18:2-3

Fools don't want to understand, they just want to give their opinions.  Wow.  That's true.

What did you learn as you read today?  Please share.

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Monday, June 27, 2011

June 27- A Boy Will Be King

June 27, 2011

Scripture Readings:
2 Kings 10:32-12:21; Acts 18:1-22;
Psalm 145:1-21; Proverbs 18:1

Joash was seven years old when he became king. 
~2 Kings 11:21

2 Kings 10:32-12:21

It is easy to think of the evil step mothers in fairy tales when one contemplates the real life stories found in the Bible.  Today, although God has put an inglorious end to one queen mother, Jezebel, we have another wretched queen mother who is ruling the throne of Judah in the Southern Kingdom.  Upon learning that her son, Ahaziah, has been killed, Athaliah, the queen mother, sets out to kill her grandchildren and any other family members who may threaten her ability to rule.  It just so happens that Athaliah's step daughter takes Ahaziah's infant son, Joash, and steals him away.  The boy and his nursemaid are hidden in the Temple of the Lord for six years.

In the seventh year, the priest named Jehoiada decides it is time to crown Joash as the King of Judah. With guards stationed appropriately, Jehoiada crowns him king.  Athaliah tears her robes and cries "treason" upon seeing this. The temple guards follow Jehoiada's commands and kill her at the palace gates.

It seems that it will be a new day for the Southern Kingdom as the priest makes a covenant between the Lord, the king, and the people that they will be the Lord's people from now on.  The people act upon this covenant by tearing down the temple of Baal, destroying the altars, and smashing the idols.  They also kill the head priest of Baal.  They then carry their new boy king to the palace.  Joash is seven years old when he is crowned king.

The Bible says that for all of his life, Joash did what was pleasing in the Lord's sight by following the teachings of the priest Jehoiada.  We see that not all of the pagan shrines are destroyed and there is still a problem with the people of Judah burning incense and offering sacrifices to false gods.

Joash implements a program to repair the Temple of the Lord.  It had apparently been neglected by past kings of Judah. Joash pays off King Hazael with treasures from the Temple in order to prevent him from attacking Jerusalem.

Lessons:  This story shows us the incredible influence that a good teacher of God can have on a whole society.  This one man Jehoiada, saves the king, teaches him the ways of God, rids the land of an evil ruler, promotes the relationship between the whole population of Judah and its leaders and God. This man leads a revival.  That is what we call being salt and light in the community.

How can you be salt and light in your community?  Think of ways that you can influence and impact others.  Do you teach anyone what you know about the Bible?  Do you participate in political activities?

Acts 18:1-22

Paul is on his second missionary journey with Silas.  He now goes to Corinth and meets a Jewish couple named Aquila and Priscilla.  They will become influential friends and companions in ministry for the Apostle Paul. Paul makes a living by making tents.  So do Aquila and Priscilla.  Every Sabbath, Paul goes to debate with the Jews in the synagogue.  The Jews are opposing Paul's message that Jesus is their Messiah.  Paul shakes the dust off of his robe and dedicates himself to bringing the message to the Gentiles.  Many people, both Jews and Gentiles, come to belief in Christ through Paul's testimony and teaching in Corinth.  The Lord comes to Paul in a vision and encourages him to keep speaking because the Lord has many that belong to Him in Corinth.

Isn't it cool that Jesus would come tell Paul that he already knows who is going to come to him through Paul's preaching?  This is strong motivation for Paul to put up with the nonsense that the unbelieving Jews throw his way.  They bring him before the governor and try to say that he is breaking laws.  The governor is not buying it and releases Paul.

He finishes this missionary journey by going to Ephesus in modern day Turkey.  From there he goes to Caesarea, Jerusalem and then, back to Antioch in Syria.

Do you consider that the Lord is watching your life and is involved and interested in the details, just like he was involved in the details of Paul's life?  Do you behave like Jesus is a member of your team?  Would it change anything if you thought this way?

Psalm 145:1-21

Vs. 4-6, "Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts. I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor and your wonderful miracles. Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue; I will proclaim your greatness."  This is what Jehoiada did by teaching and influencing Joash.  Have you told the next generation about Christ?

Proverbs 18:1

People who are reclusive are self-indulgent.  I bet they don't realize that.

What did you notice as you read?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Sunday, June 26, 2011

June 26- Spring Cleaning

June 26, 2011

Scripture Readings:
2 Kings 9:14-10:31; Acts 17:1-34;
Psalm 144:1-15; Proverbs 17:27-28

When making a fire people like to join you, when cleaning the ashes you are often alone. 
 ~African Proverb
2 Kings 9:14-10:31

There are certain times of the year where you get yearnings to get up, get out, and DO something! Spring is that time of year for most people.  As Mark Twain once said, "It's spring fever...you don't quite know what it is you do want, but its just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!"  A lot of people take that heart ache and start cleaning up their abode.  They get off their cans and start sprucing up their homes after a long winter of snow and slush.  It feels good to look out of sparlking clean windows at bright green grass and blooming trees.  When you can open the windows and let a fresh breeze blow through the rooms, it sets your heart right. Today, Jehu is a breeze, but he is not a light spring breeze.  He is like a spring tornado come to do some massive cleaning in Israel for God. 

The time to judge Ahab's wicked family has come.  The time to punish the worshipers of Baal is here, and Jehu is God's man for the job. The first thing Jehu does is kill King Joram of the Northern Kingdom and King Ahaziah of the Southern Kingdom.  Both men had followed the evil ways of idolatry.  Next, we see the brutal end to Jezebel.  She was the mother of Joram and the wicked wife of King Ahab.  It was Jezebel who plotted the murder of Naboath and killed many prophets of the Lord.  She is the queen mother, but that does not prevent her from experiencing a humiliating death by being thrown out of a window and then having her dead body eaten by wild dogs.  Elijah's prophesy against her comes true.


After this, Jehu kills the seventy sons of Ahab and any friends and associates of Ahab and his family.  This is some kind of spring cleaning.  It is all sanctioned by God.  We see that God has tolerated the idolatry and Baal worship for a long time, but judgment eventually comes.  The final clean up is when Jehu pretends to be a Baal worshiper and summons all of the prophets of Baal and all of the followers of Baal who live in the Northern Kingdom of Israel to come to the temple of Baal for a sacrifice and worship.  Upon shutting them up in the temple, Jehu commands that every worshiper of Baal be killed.  The Bible states that the Lord was pleased with Jehu carrying out God's judgment against idolatry in this way.

It is interesting to note that the Scriptures tell us that Jehu did not totally turn from his sins of idolatry and that he did not destroy the two golden calf idols that Jeroboam had created when the Northern Kingdom was formed.

Lessons:  People want to worship things that they have created with their own hands, rather than God.  They want to worship in the way they want, rather than by the rules that God has formed.  What idols do you turn to rather than God?  Is it easier to idolize positive thinking to deal with problems, rather than repentance from sin?  Is it tempting to do good works to justify yourself before God, rather than to humble yourself to speak of sin and the need for Jesus' death and resurrection?


Acts 17:1-34

Paul and Silas continue their travels to different towns to tell people about Jesus and that he is God.  We see that the Jewish leaders in each town try to subvert the work of Paul and Silas by spreading false rumors and getting people upset with them.  The Bible tells us that the Jewish leaders are motivated by jealousy.

Picture I took on a trip to Athens
When Paul and Silas get to a town called Berea, the people are more open-minded than the people in Thessalonica.  The Bible tells us that Paul and Silas explain the prophecies found in Scripture and confirm that Jesus is the prophesied Messiah. They argue that his suffering, death, and resurrection prove this.  The people in Berea are distinguished for studying their Scriptures and checking up on what Paul and Silas were saying. Some Jews from Thessalonica come and start to stir up trouble in Berea.  So Paul goes to Athens.

Athens was an ancient city of philosophers and temples.  As Paul walked through the city, he was disturbed by the number of idols.  When invited to the Council of Philosophers to speak about his new religion, Paul gives a wonderful talk about God.  Here are some highlights:
  • There is a monument to The Unknown God in this city of Athens.
  • Athenians have been worshiping God without knowing who He is.
  • I (Paul)  will tell you about Him.
  • God created the heavens and the earth and does not dwell in man-made temples.
  • Human hands cannot serves God's needs, because He has no needs.
  • He is the one who gives life to all things.  He is the one who satisfies needs.
  • He made all people of all nations from one man.
  • He controls the rise and fall of men and determines their boundaries.
  • His purpose has been that all men should seek after Him, even though He is close to each of us.
  • It is in Him that we live and move and exist.
  • We are his offspring.
  • God overlooked people's tendency to try to make God an image of silver or gold, but now He commands that everyone turn from this practice.
  • He has appointed a man to judge the world and has proven that man's worth by raising Him from the dead.
Paul's talk ends here.  Some prominent people believe and others laugh at Paul.  Many people want to hear more.

Lesson:  It is important to be able to defend your faith.  Studying Scripture and knowing God's truth makes this possible in your life.

Congratualtions on reading the Bible with me thus far.  You are putting in the work that will make you able to defend your faith to others. Truth is important. God's truth is essential for people.  Study truth to show yourself a good workman for God.

Psalm 144:1-5

I like these verses,"O Lord, what are mortals that you should notice us, mere humans that you should care for us? For we are like a breath of air, our days are like a passing shadow."

Proverbs 17:27-28


Here are some qualities of wise people, they use few words and are even tempered.  Even fools can look wise if they keep their mouths shut!

What did you notice today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Saturday, June 25, 2011

June 25- Judgment Of The Wicked

June 25, 2011

Scripture Readings:
2 Kings 8:1-9:13; Acts 16:16-40;
Psalm 143:1-12; Proverbs 17:26

It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but the thunder. 
We need the storm, the whirlwind and the earthquake." 
~Frederick Douglass

 
2 Kings 8:1-9:13

There was great controversy in 2010 when Pat Robertson, a well known evangelical Christian broadcaster, proclaimed that the devastating earthquake that killed 100,000 people in Haiti was a curse from God brought on by a pact that the people of Haiti made with the devil years before in order to free themselves from the domination of the French under the rule of Napoleon the Third.  Robertson contended that the many disasters Haiti has experienced are a result of God's judgment against them and are a way for God to have the people of Haiti realize their need to turn to Him.  We have no way of knowing if Pat Robertson is correct or if he is off of his rocker, but today we have no doubts that God is judging the wicked people of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the surrounding area, and He is using Elisha as a prophet to proclaim His judgment.

The first judgment is against the wicked king of Aram named Ben-hadad. Ben-hadad is now an old man and wants Elisha to ask God whether or not he will get well after a severe illness. He sends Hazael as his messenger.  You may remember that in the book of I Kings there is a prediction that Hazael will become the king of Aram.  Elisha prophesies that Hazael will become the king of Aram and will do horrible things to the people of Israel. We see Elisha weep at the future suffering of Israel, which is a judgment from God for their disobedience.  This foreshadows Jesus' weeping over Jerusalem at her rejection of her Messiah.

Elisha also has a young prophet under him anoint Jehu to become the king of Israel.  Jehu will be an instrument of judgment against the household of Ahab and Jezebel.  Our reading ends with Jehu being announced as the king of Israel.

How do you feel about God judging the wicked?  Do you feel relieved that there is justice in the world?  Are you disturbed at God's wrath?

Acts 16:16-40

Do you remember how demons used to like to shout out to Jesus during his ministry?  Wherever he went, there was always some demon possessed person who was shouting to Jesus that he was the Messiah.  Today we see a demon possessed girl shout to Paul and Luke as they minister in Macedonia.  The demon taunts Paul day after day, saying that these men are servants of the Most High God and tell people how to be saved.  Paul eventually calls the demon out of the girl after getting exasperated with it.

The girl was able to do fortune telling when she was demon possessed.  Now that the demon is gone, she is worthless to her master.  The owner foments a mob against Paul and Silas and they are beaten with rods in the city square. Think back to the pictures we saw from Egypt this year as they broke from the rule of Hosni Mubarak.  You can imagine how quickly these situations get out of control. Paul and Silas are thrown into the local jail.  At around midnight as they are praying and singing hymns to God, suddenly, there is an earthquake.  The doors fly open and the prisoners' chains fall off.  No prisoners try to escape. This causes the jailer to seek salvation and his whole household becomes Christians and are publicly baptized.

After being released from jail, Paul and Silas report to the city officials that they are Roman citizens.  This horrifies the officials and they apologize.  Paul and Silas go back to Lydia's house to stay.

Are you surprised at how Paul and Silas react to being beaten and jailed?  Why do you think they are singing praises to God for this persecution?  We can learn much about Paul's conviction that he must suffer greatly for Christ.  We do not see Paul insisting on a cushy and comfortable life.  We see his identification with Jesus in suffering.  This is maturity, people.  We can all learn from this example.  I need to brush up on my hymns!

Psalm 143:1-12

Read this psalm with the idea that you are Paul and Silas sitting in jail.  Amazing.

Proverbs 17:26

It is wrong to punish someone for being godly.  Hmmm.  Wonder if the people in Macedonia knew this when they beat Paul and Silas.

What did you notice as you read?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Friday, June 24, 2011

June 24- Mo' Miracles, Mo' Miracles

June 24, 2011

Scripture Readings:
2 Kings 6:1-7:20; Acts 15:36-16:15
Psalm 142:1-7; Proverbs 17:24-25

From abundance springs satiety. 
~Titus Livius

2 Kings 6:1-7:20

Have you ever been on a cruise? My family and I went on a Mediterranean cruise that stopped in Rome, Sicily, Athens, Ephesus, and Crete.  The scenery was beautiful.  The history was fascinating, but like any person who goes on a cruise, one of the highlights is always the food.  The buffet line on a cruise tempts your average human being to eat double or triple the portion that they need.  This was my experience on the cruise.  I had a double portion. In our reading, Elisha continues to be a type/shadow of Christ who has a double portion of God's Spirit.

There are a string of miracles that Elisha perform. We start with a miracle that shadows the miracles that Jesus would perform, which show his authority over the physical universe.  We all know that iron does not float.  Today, Elisha throws a stick into the water and an axe head that had fallen off of an ax floats to the top of the water and is retrieved by one of Elisha's assistant prophets. While this was a nice thing for Elisha to do, the story has a deeper spiritual lesson.  You and I are like that axe head. We are iron that has slipped off of the handle. We are fallen and depraved and have sunk down into the depths of death because of our sins. The stick is the cross in this story.  Jesus went into the murky waters of death on the cross for us. His death caused us to float up to new life through his resurrection.  You and I have been lifted from death to new life through the work of Jesus on the cross.  Hallelujah!

Have you ever been in a dangerous situation and you wondered if God was aware of your predicament and if He was able to protect you?  The next miracle is a miracle of seeing the concern and protection that the Lord provides for his beloved children.  The Syrians are looking for ways to attack Israel.  This should be no surprise.  To this very day, the Arabs are mobilizing against their ancient enemy Israel.  Elisha is able to foretell the king of Israel about these attacks.  When the king of Syria discovers this, he sets out to kill Elisha.  Elisha's assistant looks out the window and sees the mighty army of Syria surrounding them. When he tells Elisha this, Elisha does something very interesting. He prays.  What he prays shows us what it is like to see God for who He really is. He prays that God will open the eyes of his servant.  God does open the servant's eyes and what the servant sees is that God has filled the hills around Elisha with chariots of fire and horses. God is a protector and a warrior for His precious ones.

Elisha prays that the Aramean army will be blinded.  They are, and Elisha pretends to be someone else and leads this army to the king of Israel in Samaria. The Israelite king consults Elisha to see if he should kill the Arameans.  Elisha is merciful and says to treat them as prisoners of war.  They are eventually released.

This comes back to haunt Israel when the King of Aram lays siege to Samaria. The siege is so intense that people are eating their children from starvation.  The king in Israel is furious at Elisha for having recommended that the Syrians be left alive.  He vows to execute Elisha. Elisha prophesies that the siege will be ended by tomorrow. The king's assisting officer does not have faith in Elisha's prophesy.  Elisha says that it will come true, but this man will not live to see it. The Lord uses lepers to discover his miracle of deceiving the Syrian army into running away.  Eventually, the Israelites are able to go to the abandoned camp and retrieve the food and booty from the Arameans.  As the Israelites storm out of the city gates to get the booty, the assistant officer of the king is trampled by the crowd. So it happened just as Elisha, the man of God, predicted.

Do you realize that God surrounds you with chariots of fire?  Do you live in fear or do you have eyes to see God's protection of you and your family?

Acts 15:36-16:15

One would think that if the Holy Spirit is working among the leaders of a church, there would never be disagreements among them.  This assumption would be wrong.  We learn from today's passage that the Holy Spirit sometimes uses disagreements as a way to promote God's agenda on earth.

Paul and Barnabas have agreed that they need to visit the churches established on their first missionary journey.  Barnabas wants to take John Mark with them.  Paul is strongly opposed to this because John Mark abandoned them on their first journey. The disagreement is so strong that Paul and Barnabas stop their combined ministry and go their own ways. This might seem like a tragedy.  How could these two men of God do this?  We learn that God is able to use our disagreements for His good purposes.

Paul chooses a half Jewish young man named Timothy to go back with him to Lystra, where Paul was run out of town after refusing to be worshiped as Hermes.  Paul and Timothy go from town to town explaining the decisions that the elders in Jerusalem made with regard to the behavior of Christians.  Paul has a vision from God that directs them to go to Macedonia.  In the city of Philippi, they meet a lady named Lydia from Thyatira, which is in modern day Turkey.  Lydia is a wealthy business woman who sells expensive purple cloth.  She is a believer in God, and when she hears the gospel of Jesus from Paul, her heart is opened by the Lord,  she believes the Word of God, acts in faith, professes her belief and is baptized.  This is the progression of how the gospel is spread.  People must hear the message of Christ from the Word of God, have their hearts opened by God to believe, act on their belief by professing their faith to others, and finally, be baptized as a public testimony and identification with Christ's death and resurrection.

Lydia immediately manifests good works in that she provides hospitality to Paul and Timothy, who stay in her home while establishing a church in the area.

Did your conversion to Christ mirror Lydia's?  Who told you the Good News of the gospel?  How long was it before God drew you to Himself?

Psalm 142:1-7

Vs. 2-3 says, "I pour out my complaints before him and tell him all my troubles. For I am overwhelmed, and you alone know the way I should turn."  Do you do that with God?  Can you see why God called David a man after his own heart.  This is an honest and faith infused relationship.

Proverbs 17:24-25

Keep your eyes glued on wisdom, not on your computer screen or the television.  This proverbs states that a foolish child brings grief to the father and bitterness to the mother.  This can be very true.

What did you see as you read today?  Please share.

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Thursday, June 23, 2011

June 23- The Power Of A Witness

June 23, 2011

Scripture Readings:
2 Kings 4:18-5:27; Acts 15:1-35;
Psalm 141:1-10; Proverbs 17:23

Can I get a witness? 
~Marvin Gaye

2 Kings 4:18-5:27

A witness is someone who sees an event and reports what happened. With firsthand knowledge, a witness can help solve a crime or point a person in the right direction based on the information that they have. The popular television show America's Most Wanted relies on witnesses who have seen the profiled suspects to call in and report what they have witnessed.  Through their testimony many unsolved crimes have been solved and the guilty suspects have been convicted. Today we see that a lowly servant girl serves as a witness to God's power through a prophet and the results are amazing.

But first, we are going to talk about how Elisha is a shadow/type of Christ.  You may remember that in 2 Kings 2:9-15, when Elisha is being chosen as Elijah's successor, he asks to be given a double portion of Elijah's spirit.  As Elisha's ministry unfolds, it becomes obvious that this request has been granted by God. 

Elijah is a type of John the Baptist.  His ministry was one of fiery judgment against the sin of Ahab and Jezebel.  This foreshadowed the ministry of John the Baptist, who called people to repent of their sins and who especially called out the Jewish religious leaders who were corrupt and hypocritical.  Elijah was a hairy man who spent much time in the wilderness.  John the Baptist was a rugged guy who ate locust and spent much time in the wilderness.  Elijah was a forerunner to Elisha and prepared the way for Elisha's ministry.  John the Baptist was a forerunner of Christ and prepared the way for Christ's ministry. Jesus calls John the Baptist an Elijah in describing his ministry after his death (Matt 11:11-15, 17:10-13, Mark 9:11-13).

Here is a further list:
  • Both Elijah and Elisha went through the parted Jordan River to start Elisha's ministry.  Both John the Baptist and Jesus went into the Jordan River as Jesus was baptized at the start of his earthly ministry.
  • Elisha's ministry is marked by amazing miracles that confirm God's power and authority on earth.
  • Elisha had the miracle of filling the empty vessels with oil.  Jesus filled the empty water jars filled with water and then turned the water into wine.
  • Elisha prophesied that the Shunammite woman would have a son.  Jesus (pre-incarnate) promised sons to Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel.
  • Elisha raised a woman's son from the dead.  Jesus raised Jarius' daughter from the dead and Lazarus from the dead.
  • Elisha feeds the multitude of 100 prophets from twenty loves of bread.  Jesus feeds 4000 and 5000 with fishes and loaves.
  • Elisha heals Naaman of leprosy.  Jesus heals many people of leprosy, but especially the 10 lepers of which only one comes back to thank him.
Today I am going to focus on the witness of the Hebrew slave girl, who had been taken captive by Aramean raiders in the invasion of Israel.  She had been given to Naaman's wife as a maid, and one day she tells her mistress that there is a prophet in Samaria who could heal Naaman of leprosy.  This girl is witnessing to her captors about the power of God.  I love that God uses the lowly to accomplish great things.  He uses the witness of the humble to convict the proud.

Naaman goes to Israel and presents a letter to the king of Israel about his leprosy.  The king proclaims that he is unable to heal leprosy and feels that this is a ploy to find an excuse to invade Israel again.  Elisha hears of the situation and sends for Naaman.  So Naaman, who is the commander of an army that has successfully defeated many people, comes with his chariots and horses to Elisha's door.  Elisha does not come out to greet Naaman.  He is not respecter of persons, just like Jesus was not respecter of persons.  Elisha tells Naaman to wash himself in the Jordan River seven times and he will be healed. 

Naaman is chapped.  As a proud and powerful man, he is insulted by several things.  First, Elisha did not personally come out and greet him.  Second, the Jordan River is a muddy dump compared to the rivers in Lebanon where Naaman is from.  Third, this is an inglorious way to perform a miracle.  Naaman is prideful and God is going to deal with what really needs to be healed in this man.  Remember from our past readings that leprosy represents sin in the Bible.  God intends to wash this man of his sin.  Naaman's officers convince him to swallow his pride and follow the instructions of Elisha.  Notice that obedience and faith in what he is told to do is part of Naaman's healing.  Jesus was big on people having faith to be healed.  Naaman follows the instructions of Elisha and is healed.  We see a new man who comes out of the water on the seventh washing.  Seven represents the number of completion.  God rested on the seventh day from creation and now, Naaman can rest from the burden of leprosy and from his sin. 


We see true faith in Naaman as he declares that he will only make sacrifices to the Lord when he returns home.  He takes back some of the dirt from Israel as a reminder of the God of Israel and what He has done to transform Naaman's life.  He even requests forgiveness when he is required to accompany the king into the temple of Rimmon for sacrifices.  He must bow to the idol when the king bows.  For this future sin, he seeks forgiveness from God.  That, my friends, is a thankful and contrite heart. Naaman is completely humbled and contrite before the One True God. 

What do you think about the witness of this humble girl and how it transformed a powerful man's life?  How has your humble witness changed others' lives?  Be faithful as this girl was faithful to witness to God's power on earth.

I must make one comment about Gehazi, Elisha's servant.  We see in this story that Gehazi is overcome with greed and deceptively goes back to Naaman to accept gifts that Elisha had refused.  Gehazi takes the gifts and keeps them for himself.  When his sin of greed is revealed to Elisha, Gehazi is stricken with leprosy.  The irony in this story is that one man (Naaman) is healed of his sin of pride and leprosy, while the other man (Gehazi) embraces the sin of greed and becomes leprous.  This is a warning to each of us to not embrace our sin, but humbly confess our sin and be cleansed of the spiritual leprosy in our lives. 1 John 1:9 reminds us that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Acts 15:1-35

The early church is in transition and many things must be decided.  One of the major issues that the early Jewish leaders of the Church had to work out was how to start to wean themselves off of the reliance on Moses' laws.  It was becoming obvious that some of their practices would be difficult to incorporate to the Gentiles who were being saved.

There is a discussion as to whether or not to compel Gentiles to be circumcised in order to follow the Law.  Remember that all Jews were to be circumcised as a sign of the covenant that God made with Abraham.  Peter gets up in the long discussion that the leaders are having and witnesses to the fact that God has confirmed that He accepts the Gentiles by giving them the Holy Spirit. God has made no distinction based on circumcision.  Therefore, Peter argues that they should not burden the Gentiles with the yoke of the Law, which even the Jews could not keep.  After Paul and Barnabas witness to what the Holy Spirit did for the Gentile believers during their mission trip, James gets up to speak.

James points out that what Peter is saying about the conversion of the Gentiles squares with what the Scriptures say.  He points to passages in books of Amos and Isaiah to say that the Gentiles should be accepted into the Church without being troubled about many of the Laws.  James is of the opinion that certain practices should be forbidden.  Those include eating meat sacrificed to idols, sexual immorality, consuming blood, and the eating of meat from strangled animals.

We see that two men are sent back to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas to witness to this decision by the elders of the church in Jerusalem.  The men are Silas and Judas.  The church in Antioch receives their message with great joy.

Why do you think sexual immorality is always mentioned as something to be avoided?  What does our sexual behavior represent in a spiritual sense?  What are these men witnessing to?  Blood is the life force in a living creature.  Pagan religions would drink blood to superstitiously receive life power from the animal's blood.  James is discouraging practices that represent false beliefs.  Sexual intercourse was also used as a means of enticing the pagan gods to make the land fertile.  The elders of the Church wanted Gentiles to know that this was not okay with the God of Israel and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Psalm 141: 1-10

Did you know that your prayers are an incense to God?  Did you know that your upraised hands in praise are an evening sacrifice to God?  Think back to the pictures of the sacrifices and offerings in the Tabernacle when you consider this psalm.

Proverbs 17:23

It is wicked to accept a secret bribe in order to pervert justice.

What did you notice as you read the Bible today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

June 22- Miracles

June 22, 2011

2 Kings 3:1-4:17; Acts 14:8-28;
Psalm 140:1-13; Proverbs 17:22

Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across 
the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.  
~C.S. Lewis

2 Kings 3:1-4:17

If you search the Internet for accounts of miracles, you can find some pretty interesting stuff.  Unfortunately, many of the stories are false.  For instance, there is a story about a miracle that happened in Egypt in 2008.  In the account, there was a Muslim man in Egypt who killed his wife because she was reading the Bible.  He then buried her with their infant baby and their 8 year old daughter.  The two children were alive when they were buried.  The man then reported to police that an uncle had killed the kids.  Two weeks later when another family member died, they went to bury that family member in the same place.  Under the sand, they found the two children alive.  When asked how they survived, the 8 year old said, "A man wearing shiny white clothes, with bleeding wounds in his hands, came every day to feed us.  He woke up my mom so she could nurse my baby sister."  The story goes that this was reported on Egyptian television.  The female news anchor supposedly proclaimed, "This was none other than Jesus, because nobody else does things like this!"

With the completion of Scripture, God is able to use the miracle of the Word of God being heard and believed to transform the life of a person.  God is able to do  miracles at any time, but it should be noted that the miracles recorded in the Bible always have purpose and focus.  The miracles are used to further the ministry of his prophets or apostles and bring glory to God, or are designed to bring judgment on a the unrighteous.  

 
Today Elisha shows the power of God through amazing miracles that reflect God's goodness and power.  Elisha acts as a prophet to King Joram and King Jehoshaphat as they seek God's counsel on whether or not to attack Moab.  Elisha predicts a miracle of water that will fill the valley to supply the troops and animals with drinking water.  This same water is used to entice the Moabites to attack the Israelites and enter their demise.  As proof of the despicable culture and religion of the Moabites, we are told that King Mesha of Moab sacrificed his own son to his god, Chemosh, as the battle appeared lost.  This is why God is so opposed to the idolatry that infected Israel.  These practices are abhorrent to God.  May I take a minute to say that any time a culture finds excuses for killing their own children it is an abomination to God.

Elisha performs a miracle that is similar to the miracle that Elijah performed for a widow.  Elisha's miracle is even more extensive.  One of the widow's from among the prophet friends of Elisha comes to Elisha and says that there is a possibility that her two sons will be thrown into slavery because of debts.  Elisha tells the widow to bring what she has in the house of her oil and to go to all her neighbors to request that they give her empty jars. She obeys his command and brings them and begins to pour her meager amount of olive oil into a jar. Miraculously, God causes every jar and container to be filled to the brim with olive oil.  The oil is apparently worth enough to pay her debts and secure her future.  This is a picture of God being willing to fill us with the Holy Spirit to abundance, if we are willing to empty ourselves of our pride and confess our sinfulness to Christ, who is willing to forgive and save us. We are to be empty vessels (some of us are cracked pots that need mending, lol) filled with the oil of the Holy Spirit. This filling secures our future inheritance in heaven.

The next miracle is given to a lady who provides a prophet house/room for Elisha.  This is a beautiful picture of hospitality and giving.  This lady is not expecting anything in return, but Elisah consults his assistant, Gehazi, to consider what he might do to repay her kindness.  Gehazi points out that the woman is childless.  Elisha is so filled with the power of God's Spirit that he is able to immediately prophesy that she will get pregnant and have a child within the year.  It comes to pass that she has a son.  This miracle is a beautiful picture of the fruitfulness of the Holy Spirit.  God's Spirit produces life and good fruit.

You and I are beneficiaries of the miracle of Christ's resurrection.  Through this miracle we receive the forgiveness of our sins and the blessing of the Holy Spirit in our lives, which produces the fruit of the Spirit in us.  Praise God!  It is also a miracle that we are able to read God's thoughts through the Scriptures. Our Bible is a miracle. 

Do you need miracles to confirm your faith in God?  Have you acknowledged the miracle of God's revelation of Himself to mankind through the Bible?

Acts 14:8-28

Miracles are also used in Paul's ministry as he spreads the gospel of Christ to the nations. Paul is in Lystra when he sees a man that has faith to be healed.  He heals the man's paralysis.  The crowd is amazed and decides that Barnabas is Zeus and Paul is Hermes. These are Greek gods. The local people decide to sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas.  The men are horrified by this and tell the crowds that they are mere humans.  Some Jews are in the crowd begin to turn the people against Paul and Barnabas. In almost no time, they become a murderous crowd, turning against Paul, stoning him and dragging him out of the city.  Paul survives and leaves for the city of Derbe.

Paul and Barnabas go back to the various cities where churches have been planted and choose elders, pray for them, and turn them over to the Lord. They warn the Christians that their faith will be cemented through trials.  We are seeing that this is going to be an ongoing situation for the Apostle Paul.  Remember when Jesus said that Saul would learn how much he must suffer for my Name?  This is Paul's comfort zone throughout his ministry.  Maybe we should call it his uncomfortable zone.  Finally, Paul and Barnabas go back to Antioch in Syria and report to their home church all that has occurred on this first missionary journey.

Here we see an example of how the church is to conduct church planting.  It is always defined by the preaching of the Word.  Conversions occur and are sealed by the Holy Spirit.  Church government is set up by appointing elders to shepherd the body. Finally, the group is turned over to the Lord, who ultimately sustains His body on earth.

Have you supported any missionaries in your life?  Think back to the widow who gave room and board to the prophet Elisha, have you had an opportunity to give hospitality to someone who is in ministry and needs your help?

Psalm 140:1-13

I would imagine that the Apostle Paul would have been able to pray this psalm to God after his experience in Lystra.

Proverbs 17:22

"A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person's strength."  So true.

What did you notice today as you read?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

June 21- A Chariot Of Fire

June 21, 2011

Scripture Readings:
2 Kings 1:1-2:25; Acts 13:42-14:7;
Psalm 139:1-24; Proverbs 17:19-21

Swing low, sweet chariot
Comin' for to carry me home.
Swing low, sweet chariot.
Comin' for to carry me home.
~ Spiritual hymn

2 Kings 1:1-2:25

When my daughter was little I would sing Swing Low, Sweet Chariot to her at night before she went to bed.  As she closed her eyes, I would stroke her brow and help her to drift to sleep.  The song speaks of the Lord bringing a chariot down and carrying us away to heaven.  Something like this really happens in our reading today.  Elijah is taken to heaven in a whirlwind accompanied by a chariot of fire.

As our reading begins, King Ahab has died and his son, Ahaziah, is now on the throne.  This man is also the child of wicked Queen Jezebel.  He has fallen through the latticework of a roof and is critically injured.  He sends messengers to the temple of Baal to see if he will recover.  Jesus, in a pre-incarnate state as the angel of the Lord, appears to the prophet Elijah and tells him to confront Ahaziah's messengers about going to Baal for information.  He is to ask, "Is there no God in Israel?"  Do you see how irritated God gets when we do not come to Him for advice and counsel?  Elijah tells Ahaziah's messengers that because he has consulted Baal, he will never get out of the bed, but will die there.

The messengers tell Ahaziah the story and he asks what the man looked like.  We get a nice description of Elijah and find that he is a hairy man who wears a leather belt.  Several captains come to get Elijah and bring him to be killed.  They fail because Elijah calls down fire from heaven to kill these captains and their men. On the third try, after two groups of the captain and their men have been destroyed by fire, this captain begs for mercy. Preincarnate Jesus tells Elijah to go with the man.  Elijah personally delivers God's message to Ahaziah and sure enough, Ahaziah dies in his bed.

Now we have the magnificent story of Elijah being taken to heaven in a whirlwind.  There are some interesting things about Elijah and Elisha in this story:
  • Both men miraculously part the water of the Jordan River.  This is reminiscent of Joshua parting the Jordan River at the start of his leading Israel.  This is a miracle sign of God that He is leading the person's mission.
  • Elisha never leaves Elijah's side, as he is aware that God will be taking Elijah away that day.
  • Elisha declares his loyalty to Elijah and his belief that God is alive. He also believes that even though Elijah is going to be taken away today, he will still be alive. (Ch. 2 vs. 2) His loyalty is reminiscent of Ruth and Naomi.
  • Elijah is described as hairy and Elisha is described as bald.
  • Elisha asks for Elijah's blessing to become his successor.
  • Elijah says that witnessing his being taken away will be the blessing and confirmation.
  • As they walk, Elijah is translated to heaven in a whirlwind accompanied by a chariot of fire.
  • Elisha tears his robe in mourning for the loss of his mentor.
Although the Israelites insist on forming a search party for Elijah, Elisha is able to provide a testimony that he was carried away into heaven alive in a whirlwind.  Elisha then confirms the legitimacy of his ministry by sign miracles that include parting the Jordan River, making bitter water sweet, and calling a curse and a judgment of death upon the mockers of God.

Lessons:  Spiritual mentors are important.  Elijah was a mentor to Elisha.  God uses these types of relationships.  The voice of His prophets will be important until the end of all time.  Elijah's message that there is a God in Israel is the same message to us.  There is the One True God.  Turn to Him for your needs.

Do you follow the God of Israel, who provided Jesus Christ to the world?  Do you go to Him to seek truth?
Are you loyal like Elisha to those who are your spiritual mentors?  Are you a witness to truth like Elisha was?

Acts 13:42-14:7

After Paul's successful preaching in the synagogue at Antioch Pisiidia in Turkey, the whole town turns out to hear him speak.  The Jewish leaders in town get jealous and begin to back stab Paul and Barnabas.  At this, Paul declares that he is going to focus on the Gentiles since the Jews are rejecting the message.

The Jewish leaders incite a mob against Paul and Barnabas and run them out of town. The Bible tells us that in order to prove the truth of Paul's message, the Lord gave them the ability to do sign miracles. This is similar to what the Lord did for Elisha to prove that Elisha's message was true.

Persecution continues and this drives Paul and Barnabas to other cities to continue to spread the Good News.  Are you surprised that even though they are speaking truth and are filled with the Holy Spirit, Paul and Barnabas are experiencing so much difficulty and trials?  What does this tell you about the Christian life?  What do you learn about our situation in this fallen world?

Lessons:  Even though God is with us, we will have trials in this world.  Part of our journey is to learn to rely on God in our trials.  The Good News is about forgiveness of sin and eternal life, not about living a trouble free life on this earth.

Can you accept trials in this life?  How have you suffered when you have tried to give out God's Good News?

Psalm 139:1-24

This is perhaps my favorite psalm in the Bible.  Pray this psalm back to God in wonder and amazement!

Proverbs 17:19-21

This proverb says that if you love to quarrel, you love sin.  Are you a trouble maker?

What did you notice today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Monday, June 20, 2011

June 20- Let's Find Out What The Lord Says

June 20, 2011

Scripture Readings:
I Kings 22:1-53; Acts 13:16-41;
Psalm 138:1-8; Proverbs 17:17-18

A barking dog is more useful than a sleeping lion. 
~Washington Irving

I Kings 22:1-53

How do you handle major life decisions?  Do you seek advice on what to do from other people that you trust to be wise?  Some people when they are going to buy a car do much thinking and investigation before they take the plunge.  They read magazines like Consumer Reports.  They will check out blogs on the internet that discuss the reliability, gas mileage and consumer satisfaction of the vehicle.  They may ask someone in their family if they like the model of car that they are considering buying. Let's say you were considering getting married.  Would you ask friends and family what they think of the person you are considering for marriage?  How about pre-marital counseling?  Is that something you would consider?  Here is another proposition. Would you seek the Lord's opinion through prayer? Today, we read about two kings and their different approaches to deciding whether or not to go into battle.


King Ahab is still the king over the Northern Kingdom of Israel.  King Jehoshaphat, son of Asa, is the king over the Southern Kingdom of Judah.  You may remember from our readings that Ahab is a bad king.  Jehoshaphat is a good king and he is the son of another good king named Asa. These two kings form an alliance to recapture the city of Ramoth-gilead. Ahab has hatched this plan without consulting anyone. He wants this territory back and that is all he needs to know to decide to move forward. The only thing missing is enough manpower to get the job done. That is where Jehoshaphat figures in.  Before deciding to fight against the Arameans, Jehoshaphat suggests that they find out what the Lord has to say about it.  Here we see why Jehoshaphat is considered a good king in the Bible.  He takes the time to pray and seek God's will on decisions in his life. Ahab has a gaggle of yes men designed to kowtow to his whims. Ahab summons the 400 prophets of Baal, who act as his cheerleaders, and they enthusiastically endorse going to war. Jehoshaphat inquires if there are any prophets of the Lord that they can consult. Ahab admits that there is one prophet of the Lord, but he hates him because he is so negative and always prophesies bad things for Ahab. Jehoshaphat admonishes Ahab to not speak like that about a prophet of the Lord.

Micaiah, the prophet, is called before the kings.  Micaiah has been warned to give the king a positive message about going to war and so that is exactly what he does. Ahab senses his sarcasm and entreats Micaiah to tell the truth.  Micaiah launches into a parable designed to show that Ahab's 400 yes-men prophets are lying to him about the outcome of the battle.  Micaiah uses the parable to let Ahab know that he will die in battle if he chooses to proceed.  One of the prophets of Baal named Zedekiah slaps Micaiah in the face for saying this to the king.  Micaiah retorts that if Ahab comes back alive then the Lord did not speak through him.

Ahab disguises himself in battle and convinces Jehoshaphat to wear the royal robes.  He is hoping the Jehoshaphat will be the target of the soldiers and he will escape unharmed.  Ahab did not know that you cannot escape from God.  God can see through all of our disguises.  Sure enough, Ahab is shot with a random arrow that pierces through the side opening of  his armor.  Ahab bleeds to death in his chariot.  When his body and chariot are brought back to Samaria, dogs lick Ahab's blood from the chariot in fulfillment of Elijah's prophesy from God about Ahab's death.

Lessons:  Seek God's will for decisions in your life.  To include your Creator is wise as you navigate your journey on earth.  You cannot hide from God.  Be sure, your sins will find you out.  God is true to His Word.  If He has said something will come to pass, it WILL come to pass.  Trust God.

Do you seek God for life decisions?  Do you know without a shadow of a doubt that God will accomplish His purposes on earth?  Do you know that He has promised eternal life for you and nothing can prevent that if you trust in Jesus Christ?

Acts 13:16-41

It should be no surprise that God chose a man of tremendous intellect and a background of scholarship to guide the early church and to write the majority of the New Testament. We see today how the Apostle Paul preached to those ancient Christian converts and the means through which all men are saved.  Paul's theme in today's sermon is that God keeps His promises and provides forgiveness for your sins through Jesus Christ.

The Chuch at Antioch Pisidia Turkey
Let's review the points of Paul's talk in Antioch in Pisidia.  First, we should notice that in order to understand the role of Jesus, it is important to review the history of the nation of Israel.  It is very hard to understand the purposes of God apart from His relationship to the nation of Israel.  For this reason, Paul recounts portions of Israel's history.  Let's list what he highlights:
  • God led the Israelites out of Egypt after multiplying them as a people in Egypt. Vs. 17
  • He had them wander in the desert for forty years. Vs. 18
  • He destroyed seven nations in Canaan to give the Israelites the Promised Land Vs. 19
  • This took 450 years. Vs. 20
  • Israel wanted a king, so God gave them Saul. Vs. 21
  • After forty years, God replaced Saul with David, a man after God's own heart. Vs. 22
  • King David's descendant, Jesus, is God's promised Savior to Israel. Vs. 23
  • John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus. Vs. 24-25
  • Jesus' salvation is for Jews and devout Gentiles. vs. 26-27
  • His death was a fulfillment of prophecy, and was a death not justified by Jesus' actions. Vs. 28
  • God raised Jesus from the dead, and he appeared to many people after his resurrection. Vs. 30-31
  • Barnabas and Paul were hear to tell the people this Good News...God has kept His promise to Israel found in the Psalms 2 and 16.  His Son did not rot in the grave. Vs. 32-37
  • If you believe in  Jesus your sins are forgiven and you will be free from guilt. Vs. 38-39
This is certainly Good News that Paul was able to deliver to his fellow Israelites and to Gentiles who were interested in knowing God.  Paul is able to shed light on God's plan throughout history.  Although Paul did not go all the way back to the Garden of Eden, we know from our reading that God kept His promise to Eve.  He said that one of her children would solve the problem of sin on this earth.  His death would pay the penalty for all of mankind's sin (Genesis 3:15). This is the Good News that Paul is preaching.  The Redeemer Child has come.

Have you ever told any one else the Good News of history?  Has God's story ever penetrated your life?Think of ways that you can tell this story to one other person.  It is a life changing story.

Psalm 138:1-8

Listen to verse 2 "I will give thanks to your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness, because your promises are backed by all the honor of your name."  Here is verse 3, "When I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me the strength I need."

This is what we talked about today!

Proverbs 17:17-18

We once again have an encouragement to not co-sign a loan.

What did you notice as you read today?  Please share.

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

Sunday, June 19, 2011

June 19- Throw Downs

June 19, 2011

Scripture Readings:
I Kings 20:1-21:29; Acts 12:24-13:15;
Psalm 137:1-9; Proverbs 17:16

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. 
~Muhammad Ali

I Kings 20:1-21:29

Back in the day when Muhammad Ali was in his prime as a fighter, he was known for his verbal throw downs to his opponents.  Saying that he could float like a butterfly and sting like a bee was part of his bravado to psych out his opponent.  His trash talk would include rhymes and would either be broadcast on television or given to his opponents in person.  His unique fighting style and personal bravado made him a cultural icon.  Today, there are many throw downs given in our readings.

The first throw down is by King Ahab's enemy, King Ben-Hadad of Aram.  He sends a message to Ahab saying that your silver and gold are mine, as are your best wives and children.  Ahab does not retort and appears to give in to this demand to avoid a conflict.  Ben-Hadad ups the ante by saying he is going to take everything valuable from Ahab.  This is more than Ahab can agree to.

God sends a prophet to Ahab to let him know that the God of Israel is going to defeat his enemy in order to prove that He is the Lord and everyone will know it.  God does cause Ahab's army to defeat this enemy not only once, but twice on the battlefield.  Ben-hadad stops the trash talk after these defeats and begs for his life.  Ahab makes a treaty with him and sets him free! Needless to say, God is not pleased. He promises to kill Ahab in place of Ben-Hadad. Ahab is angry and sullen at this pronouncement.

Ahab continues to be angry and sullen when a man named Naboth will not sell him his vineyard.  Jezebel is disgusted with Ahab's weakness and plots and executes the murder of Naboth. She essentially gives a throw down to Ahab when she questions whether or not he is the king of Israel.  Naboth is stoned to death and Ahab and Jezebel take his vineyard.

Elijah comes back into the picture to pronounce God's judgment upon Ahab.  He declares that not one single male descendant of Ahab will survive.  This is God's throw down to Ahab. His family will be destroyed like Jeroboam's. His wife, Jezebel, will be eaten by dogs at the city wall and the members of his family who die will be eaten by dogs or vultures. Bam!

Ahab repents in sackcloth and mourning.  God decides to kill his descendants instead after Ahab's death. This change of heart comes about because of Ahab's repentant prayers. Can you believe God's mercy to this jerk?  Shocking.

What do we learn today?  God is willing to show Himself to evil Ahab.  He uses this evil king to show His power over the enemies of Israel. God is not stopped by rebellious people. We also learn that God is merciful.  He has infinite patience and long suffering kindness to His creation.  Ultimately, God is in control and the master of throw downs.

Acts 12:24-13:15

We are learning how God is spreading the good news about Jesus in the ancient world.  Today we see that the first official missionary journeys are prompted by the church in Antioch, Syria, as the leaders fast and pray worshiping God.  During the time of fasting and prayer, God, the Holy Spirit, tells them to dedicate Barnabas and Saul for a special work.  We see that this first missionary journey is God's idea. 

After having hands laid on them to commission them to represent the whole community at Antioch in their mission, Saul (now called Paul) and Barnabas set out. They go to the island of Cyprus.  Finally, in Paphos, they meet a Jewish sorcerer named Bar-Jesus.  This man tries to convince the governor not to believe the message of Christ. Paul blinds the man through a pronouncement from God and this miracle of judgment convinces the governor to follow Jesus.   This is a throw down from God on the influence of the Devil in this first missionary journey.

How has God thrown down the enemy/Satan in your life?  Can you recount God's strong arm defeating negative thoughts, healing the scars of abuse, or dissipating the discouragement of guilt caused by sin in your life?

Psalm 137:1-9

Here is an example of how to lament when things go wrong.

Proverbs 17:16

Don't waste funds trying to educate a fool in wisdom.  This is similar to don't cast your pearls before swine.

What did you notice today?  Please share.

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011