July 8

July 8

Jonah Flees & Prays — God calls Jonah during the reign of Jeroboam II (northern king 41 years).

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: 2 Kings 14:23-29

Reading 2: Jonah 1

Reading 3: Jonah 2

Jonah was called by God during the reign of Jeroboam II of Israel, but his response to the call was to run away. This was not the wisest course of action, but God was in control! The story is well known but it is worth reading these two chapters carefully to catch all the details of what God is doing, and why.

For us the application is challenging, although there is no reason to flee! God is calling us all to make a difference. He wants everyone to find Him and to live for Him.

What is God calling you to do or say today?

Have a great day! (and don’t run away!)

Mark.

July 7

July 7

Amaziah (Southern King 29 years) — Losing money & the right attitude toward wealth.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: 2 Kings 14:1-4

Reading 2: 2 Chronicles 25

Reading 3: Deuteronomy 8:18

Amaziah became king after his ungodly father was assassinated, but the saying “like father, like son” proved true in this case. After a godly start, Amaziah turned away from God just as his father had. And so God’s judgment falls on him too.

There is great presumption in Amaziah’s challenge to the the king of Israel, and presumption is rewarded with defeat. The hiring and firing of Israelite troops as mercenaries also contributed to this.

Presumption and perseverance are enemies of each other, and Amaziah find himself on the wrong side of history in later life. His mistake was to ignore the instruction of Deuteronomy 8:18: “Remember the Lord your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful, in order to fulfill the covenant he confirmed to your ancestors with an oath.”

May that be true for us today – that we remember Jesus, and the covenant He inaugurated with HIs death and resurrection. Our God is a covenant God – so we can rejoice!

Have a great day!

Mark.

July 6

July 6

Athaliah (Southern Queen 6 years) & Joash (Southern King 41 years) Leaders & following God.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: 2 Kings 11

Reading 2: 2 Chronicles 24

Reading 3: Deuteronomy 28:25-26

Today we turn back to the Southern Kingdom of Judah, which was the more spiritual originally, but has become increasingly ungodly. King Jehoram married the daughter of wicked king Ahab of Israel (her name was Athaliah) and he did evil in God’s sight. His reign ended in a lingering, painful sickness which killed him to no-one’s regret (as we saw in our last reading). Likewise his son Ahaziah followed in his father’s footsteps and did evil. All we know about him is that he was in alliance with his uncle Jehoram, King of Israel, and that he accompanied Jehoram to Jezreel to recuperate from battle wounds. It was there that Jehu came at the instruction of Elisha and killed all the descendants of Ahab (including the two kings).

So Jehu became king of Israel, and Judah had no king, so Athaliah (daughter of Ahab and the now-dead king’s mother) took the throne. She was as ungodly as those before her, indeed even more so, but thankfully Jehoida the High Priest hid Amaziah’s son Joash and trained him in God’s law before bringing him out and crowning him king.

So from this story we see that evil always brings pain and suffering, but God wants us to return to Him and will provide leaders to rescue us if we are willing. This has been the case throughout the history of God’s people, and it is still true today.

When godly leadership has the courage to stand (whether Jehoida or Joash) there is a time when that leadership is hidden, and a time when it is revealed. It is important not to be deceived into thinking that leadership always involves visibility or fame!

Joash, the young king, is a godly leader as long as his mentor Jehoida is around. After Jehoida’s death Joash is swayed by others into going away from God, and ultimately reaps the harvest of his sin through injury at the hands of his enemies, and murder at the hands of traitors within his royal court.

It doesn’t have to be that way – godly mentors and wise advisors guard us from error in our pursuit of God. Who do you have in your life to inspire you to make a difference for God? And how can you be that kind of influence to others?
Have a great day!

Mark.

July 5

July 5

Jehu (Northern King 28 years) — Jehu kills Ahab’s family according to Elijah’s prophecy.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: 2 Kings 9

Reading 2: 2 Kings 10

Reading 3: Hosea 1:2-5

Elisha sets in motion the fulfillment of Elijah’s prophecy concerning Ahab and Jezebel. He sends a prophet to anoint Jehu as Israel’s new king. The events which follow show that Jehu is willing to obey the Lord fully, and to rid Israel of the evil brought in by Ahab and Jezebel. Yet he did not follow God wholeheartedly so in the end he is judged too.

When it is time to clean house, those who love God will be bold to reject all evil and bring God’s righteousness in its place. This is what Hosea did when he married Gomer and named their son Jezreel, a prophetic forecast of God’s judgment on Jehu.

There is great cost to disobeying God, but God is patient to bring us to repentance and restoration if we are willing.

Have a great day!

Mark.

July 4

July 4

Elisha & the Famine — The four lepers’ decision in a famine & Elisha’s death.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: 2 Kings 6:24-33

Reading 2: 2 Kings 7

Reading 3: 2 Kings 13:14-21

Good parents allow their children to experience consequences, and so it is with the nation of Israel – after years of turning away from God, they are besieged, starving, and about to be overrun by their enemies. The king is enraged that God is allowing such suffering (blind to the fact that it is his own sin that is the real cause). But Elisha prophesies a dramatic turnaround in their circumstances. It is always God’s heart to draw us to the place where we can accept HIs love and direction if possible. If blessing is misused and turns us away from Him, then He allows hardship and famine instead. But if there is a hope that we will recognize His power, He will release miracles for the purpose of turning us back to relationship with our Creator.

Now history tells us that this turn-around for Israel did not achieve the desired effect. The nation continued to drift away from God and when Elisha dies there is no-one to call them back. King Jehoash makes a feeble attempt to appear godly, quoting Elisha’s famous phrase “the chariots and charioteers of Israel,” but it is clear from his lack of resolve with the arrows that he does not really believe any of this miraculous stuff. And so Israel stumbles closer to oblivion.

What a contrast with the lepers, who decided to risk going over to the enemy camp during the famine. The passage does not tell us that this was a step of faith, but their action showed what God was doing, and they recognized it! This is how you and I can join ourselves to what God is doing. We look for God’s activity and then share the good news with others.

Who are you going to encourage today?

Have a great day!

Mark.

July 3

July 3

Elisha & his Prayer — Seeing the invisible spiritual realm all around us.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: 2 Kings 6:1-23

Reading 2: 2 Kings 2:11

Reading 3: 2 Chronicles 32:6-8

Elisha lives in a different realm to the others around him. He sees what they don’t see, and he knows what they can’t know. His relationship with God gives him supernatural insight, supernatural power, and supernatural authority. First he overrides the law of gravity to recover the metal ax head one of his companions lost. Then he relays to the king of Israel all the plans of his enemy the king of Aram (Syria). Finally, when the king of Aram tries to kidnap and kill him, Elisha first asks God to open the eyes of his frightened servant, and then has all the Aramaean soldiers blinded (spiritually at least) and leads them into the headquarters of their foe, the king of Israel, in Samaria. This is a very humorous story in the midst of warlike circumstances, and it gives the impression that Elisha cares little for the fears and troubles of his circumstances because he is more at home in God’s Kingdom than earthly ones.

The chariots of fire he saw were familiar to him from his appointment as Elijah’s successor, and his example was inspirational to later leaders such as Hezekiah, who encouraged his people to trust God more than their own resources when in similar circumstances years later.

So for us – how will we respond in hard times? Will we wring our hands in despair and fear? Or fight back in our own strength and our limited wisdom? We must learn to see as Elisha saw, and trust as he trusted, so that God’s Kingdom will advance, and God’s power will be seen.

Have a great day!

Mark.

July 1

July 1

Elisha & Naaman — Elisha heals Naaman the leper & Jesus heals lepers.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: 2 Kings 5

Reading 2: Luke 4:16-30

Reading 3: Luke 5:12-15

The link between powerful miracles and God’s blessing is clear in the Bible. Today we see Elijah showing God’s power to a pagan army commander who has faith, while Naaman shows us that God will still work in our lives if we get the details of our approach to Him wrong! This is grace in action. God wants humanity to know Him and to receive His love.

Gehazi, on the other hand, makes a mistake that many religious people have made through history – he values the profits of ministry over the rewards of ministry and thus inherits the same disease Naaman discarded. It is a mistake to seek personal gain when serving God!

Jesus never sought personal gain, but He understood that people would rise against Him because they took Him for granted; however, to those who valued the power of God, and had sufficient need, there was still power available. This is also a lesson for us – to welcome the role need plays in our lives – making us depend on God and not on our own wisdom or greed.

Have a great day!

Mark.

June 30

June 30

Elisha & the Ditches — Digging ditches for war & the miracle of the bread.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: 2 Kings 3

Reading 2: 2 Kings 4

Reading 3: John 6:1-14

Elisha inherited a double portion of the spirit of God that was on Elijah – Elisha performs twice as many miracles in his ministry as Elijah.

Today we read of incidents that occurred in the reigns of Jehoram of Israel and Jehoshaphat of Judah, close to the end of Jehoshaphat’s reign. (If you are getting confused by the sequence of kings, you can check out a Timeline of all the key dates!).

Elisha serves God, not kings, and tells the evil kings that he is only cooperating out of honor for king Jehoshaphat. then he asks for a harpist to play (illustrating the value of music in stimulating our spirits to respond to God’s Spirit). His prophecy is remarkable because it brings victory out of defeat for the three armies. And the Moabite king shows his contempt for God by sacrificing his son in an attempt to avoid defeat. Power so often leads to abuse. The only power that does the opposite is God’s power.

Then we read of God’s heart to bless miraculously to save those who love Him. First by multiplying insufficient natural resources, second by giving a son where natural means were missing, third by reversing the consequences of this broken world when they stole the gift He had just given, and fourth by undoing a deadly mistake. Finally, God feeds all the company of Elisha’s companions (100 men) with one man’s offering – the equivalent of 20 snack rolls. Jesus repeats this demonstration of God’s loving generosity on a larger scale in John 6, and uses His disciples as the astonished ministers of the miraculous.

Through these miracles we learn that God wants us to offer Him what we have, and not to withhold it because it is insufficient for the need. God also wants to supernaturally provide for us what we need for success even when that seems impossible to us. And finally we see that God is able to overturn the bad things that happen in this broken world, and He will use us in that process – He wants us to be partners with Him, not merely dependent on Him.

How does God want to work in your circumstances today? Let’s believe Him for miracles!

Have a great day!

Mark.

June 29

June 29

Elisha & Elijah — The chariot of fire, passing the mantle, the springs of Jericho, & Elijah’s return.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: 2 Kings 2

Reading 2: John 1:19-28

Reading 3: Matthew 17:1-13

God’s Story contains many instances where the plan and the action overlap, often many years apart. Because God is working with an eternal perspective, not merely in the moment.

Today we see how the mantle of Elijah passes to Elisha because Elisha will not allow anything to come between him and Elijah. God passes His anointing seamlessly from Elijah to Elisha, as Elijah is taken to heaven without dying.

Later Elijah returns on the mountain when Jesus is transfigured and, in preparation for Jesus, the spirit of Elijah lives in John the Baptist.

These elements of continuity remind us that all these stories are part of God’s love story – one story, one God, one purpose for humanity.

Let’s give thanks that we are part of that story!

Have a great day.

Mark.

June 28

June 28

Jehoram (Southern King 8 years) — God’s promise to David & Elijah’s letter to Jehoram.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: 2 Chronicles 21

Reading 2: 2 Samuel 7:16-17

Reading 3: Psalm 132:10-12

We have seen two good but flawed kings in Judah, in contrast to a procession of evil and ungodly kings in Israel. Now we see that a godly king is no guarantee that his children will be godly. Each of us has a choice to make – how will we relate to God? There are no second-generation believers.

King Jehoram turns out to be as evil as the Israelite kings, murdering his brothers and turning his back on both God and his heritage. In response Elijah writes a letter to him and condemns his leadership of the people into evil. And all the judgments Elijah predicts come upon Jehoram, and the nation. After eight bad years, Jehoram’s sickness leads to his death, and nobody is sorry when he dies!

Such is evil in action – those whose hearts are not hardened against godly values will never mourn the death of evil.

The promise to David, as with many of God’s promises, had a double focus: primarily it referred to David’s children and grandchildren – if they continued to serve God then they would continue to reign over the nation. But secondarily God had His eternal plan in view. The promise to David still stands, that he will always have a descendant on the throne. this is fulfilled by David’s descendant Jesus of Nazareth, who reigns forever.

We have the privilege of serving this King who fulfills God’s promise forever.

Have a great day!

Mark.