Reading #1 – Matthew 1
Reading #2 – Psalms 25
Reading #3 – Ecclesiastes 1
Reading #4 – Isaiah 2
Reading #5 – 2 King 5
2 Kings 5 – Healing of Naaman. Naaman, the commander of Aram’s army, had been dealing with leprosy (a skin rash) that had caused him pain. The pain did not stop him from his job and he was so successful that he earned the admiration of the king. If it had not been for Naaman’s Israelite maid, he would never have known about the “Prophet in Israel” (3). When the king of Aram heard about “the prophet who could heal” he sent a letter of introduction to the king of Israel. Sending in the commander of the armies even on a peaceful mission could have been seen as “an act of war” so he sent a letter of introduction. The problem with the letter was how it was written. The letter to the king of Israel said: “With this letter, I present my servant Naaman. I want you to heal him of his leprosy.” When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes in dismay and said, “Am I God, that I can give life and take it away? Why is this man asking me to heal someone with leprosy? I can see that he’s just trying to pick a fight with me (6-7).” The way the letter was translated might be the main reason for the misunderstanding. When Elisha had heard about the incident, he said “send the man to me so that he may know that there is a true prophet in Israel (8).” When Naaman showed up with his envoy and riches, Elisha relays the message “Go and wash seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored, and you will be healed of your leprosy (10).” This did not sit well with the commander as he was expecting to have Elisha perform some “voodoo magic” like what would happen in Aram and be healed. So Naaman walks away sullen and angry believing this to be about as worthless as the gods he served in Aram. Fortunately, he had some wise men with him who convinced him to comply and by being obedient the leprosy was gone (13-14). Elisha would not accept even a small piece of clothing in reward because it was the Lord G_d who did the healing not him. Of course, there is always a Gehazi who will see the goods and covet them. Being greedy has its reward and that is, the pain that goes right along with it (20-27) (Future writing: “Sin’s Booty”.
Psalms 25 – A Psalm of David. We have never met David face-to-face but, we have met the G_d he serves. O LORD, I give my life to you. I trust in you, my God! Do not let me be disgraced, or let my enemies rejoice in my defeat. No one who trusts in you will ever be disgraced, but disgrace comes to those who try to deceive others (1-3). This should be the prayer of our life today. When we are obedient in the little things, like right and wrong, we can ask for his Holy direction for our life and He will grant it because He knows we will follow. Show me the right path, O LORD; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All-day long I put my hope in you (4-5). The Lord G_d we serve is more than able to handle whatever roadblock we face if we will simply refuse to surrender to “fear”. The LORD is good and does what is right; he shows the proper path to those who go astray. He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them his way. The LORD leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all who keep his covenant and obey his demands (8-10). Serving the G_d of the ages does not mean we will never see trouble or that problems will not find their way to our doorstep rather, it means that G_d will show us the way through them and wreck the Devil’s plans.
Ecclesiastes 1 -The Teacher’s Lesson Plans. The Teacher, presumably Solomon (1), said something very profound, “Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!” What do people get for all their hard work under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth never changes. The sun rises and the sun sets, then hurries around to rise again. The wind blows south and then turns north. Around and around it goes, blowing in circles (2-6). Solomon was a very wealthy king because of what David had left him and the world’s wealth that was given to him during the early days of his reign (1 Kings 4:20-34). The point was not that Solomon was “depressed” rather, the wealth did not bring lasting joy. My father said after my mother had passed away, “I have all that want and nothing that I need”. We will see in our lifetime, just as Solomon had seen his, that we need to go no further than the throneroom of G_d to know the truth. I said to myself, “Look, I am wiser than any of the kings who ruled in Jerusalem before me. I have greater wisdom and knowledge than any of them.” So I set out to learn everything from wisdom to madness and folly. But I learned firsthand that pursuing all this is like chasing the wind (16-17). Knowing the truth about G_d brings sorrow because it means we have to do something with it. The greater my wisdom, the greater my grief. To increase knowledge only increases sorrow (18).
Isaiah 2 – The Lord’s Future Reign. In the last days, the mountain of the LORD’s house will be the highest of all— the most important place on earth. It will be raised above the other hills, and people from all over the world will stream there to worship (2). In Jesus’ time, the disciples came to him and, speaking proudly, talked about how splendorous the temple was. Jesus’ response “Do you see all these buildings? I tell you the truth, they will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another (Matthew 24:2)!” All of the gods and idols of this world will disappear in time. New nations will arise and develop their gods and idols thinking “this will last forever” yet will also disappear into history and be forgotten (Ecclesiastes 1:9-11). Jesus’ kingdom has developed followers in every country, nationality, and tongue just as the “Great Commission” has spoken about. Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the LORD! For the LORD has rejected his people, the descendants of Jacob, because they have filled their land with practices from the East and with sorcerers, as the Philistines do. They have made alliances with pagans (5-6). Judgment must first begin at the house of G_d (1 Peter 4:17). All of the “Bible Beating” and condemnation are of no value when we first learn to be disobedient. When we live according to G_d’s word not as a template but as a living example for the world to see, people will want to know the G_d we serve (Psalms 25:8-10).
Matthew 1 – the Lineage of Jesus. The lineage of Jesus begins at Abraham then 14 generations to David and 14 generations to Jesus. The writer of Matthew like the book of Luke shares the lineage of Jesus with its readers as a reference showing Jesus’ connection physically to David the greatest king of Israel. This was done so that the writer could prove that Jesus was the Messiah (Isaiah 11:1-2, Zechariah 3:8, and Revelations 5:5). Because none of the 21st-century populace was around in the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry, we have the word of G_d to prove the truth to us. When Jesus spoke, just as when Isaiah spoke, the references to Israel’s past alerted the reader “this is true”. The Devil will always tell us something outlandish.