Reading #1 – Mark 4
Reading #2 – Psalms 56
Reading #3 – Proverbs 15
Reading #4 – Isaiah 34
Reading #5 – 1 Chronicles 11
1 Chronicle 11 – David Becomes King over Israel and Judah. Saul was killed in battle along with his sons and his armor-bearer (1 Chronicle 10). In David’s youth, Samuel the Seer prophecied that he would one day rule the nation in place of Saul. Having foreknowledge of his future reign did not mean he could take the throne. David honored the G_d of his fathers and was patient. In the past, even when Saul was king, you were the one who led the forces of Israel. And the LORD your God told you, ‘You will be the shepherd of my people Israel. You will be the leader of my people Israel (2).’” Even when Saul was trying to kill him, David did not assert himself as “King”. Humility was a crowing characteristic of David and it was this characteristic that G_d loved so much about him (Proverbs 15:33). David remarked longingly to his men, “Oh, how I would love some of that good water from the well by the gate in Bethlehem.” So the Three broke through the Philistine lines, drew some water from the well by the gate in Bethlehem, and brought it back to David. But David refused to drink it. Instead, he poured it out as an offering to the LORD. “God forbid that I should drink this!” he exclaimed. “This water is as precious as the blood of these men who risked their lives to bring it to me.” So David did not drink it. These are examples of the exploits of the Three (17-19).
Psalms 56 – A Psalm of David When the Philistines Seized Him in Gath. The words that David penned are never “mere words”, they are written during times of struggle, joy, and praise. When David hid in Gath from Saul, he was seized and could have faced certain death (1 Samuel 25:10-15). David had been promised the throne of Israel/Judah so he knew this was not the “end of the line for him”. The Devil will always set the stage around you to scare you and make you act irrationally. O God, have mercy on me, for people are hounding me. My foes attack me all day long. I am constantly hounded by those who slander me, and many are boldly attacking me. But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. I praise God for what he has promised. I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me (1-4)? In times of immense struggles, the easiest thing to do is “cave in to the pressures” one of the most difficult things to do is, “Hold on and wait for the Lord”. The Devil will flee when refuse to listen to him and his minions (James 4:7). My enemies will retreat when I call to you for help. This I know: God is on my side! I praise God for what he has promised; yes, I praise the LORD for what he has promised. I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me (9-11)? Mortals can only harm the flesh, they cannot take your joy away if you refuse to let it go or be quashed by their jeers. I will fulfill my vows to you, O God, and will offer a sacrifice of thanks for your help. For you have rescued me from death; you have kept my feet from slipping. So now I can walk in your presence, O God, in your life-giving light (12-13).
Proverbs 15 – The Problem of the Tongue. Every human on planet earth is endowed with the power to curtail the tongue or give it free license to harm. The Devil and his minions will always present credible evidence to get us riled up. When we open our mouth and allow the tongue to speak, we hurt people and fights have ensued where a gentle tongue can break a bow of contention (1). Scripture calls the person who speaks without restraint a “fool”. Fools never concern themselves with who they are hurting and what fires they have started until the fire is put out and destruction lies all around them. The lips of the wise give good advice; the heart of a fool has none to give (7). G_d is always aware of what we are facing and why we act the way we do (11). We can lie to the world around us but we cannot lie to G_d, the ones we love, and/or ourselves because our heart will always convict us until it too is hardened and we have turned our back on G_d. Foolishness brings joy to those with no sense; a sensible person stays on the right path (21).
Isaiah 34 – A Message For the Nations. Come here and listen, O nations of the earth. Let the world and everything in it hear my words. For the LORD is enraged against the nations. His fury is against all their armies. He will destroy them, dooming them to slaughter (1-2). When I read this passage, I got the vision of a land that was utterly destroyed, and what was left was bramble bushes, dried up bones, and animals thriving in a land that once was occupied by mankind (3-4). Mankind in his/her wisdom believes they will last forever when, in truth, they will die and so will all of the power they once held. And when my sword has finished its work in the heavens, it will fall upon Edom, the nation I have marked for destruction. The sword of the LORD is drenched with blood and covered with fat— with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of rams prepared for sacrifice. Yes, the LORD will offer a sacrifice in the city of Bozrah. He will make a mighty slaughter in Edom (5-6). Israel had been destroyed because of sin and was taken into exile never to be heard from again. Judah had been decimated and many went into exile. Edom watched these events occur and cheered their cousin’s decimation without considering that they would be next. It will be haunted by the desert owl and the screech owl, the great owl and the raven. For God will measure that land carefully; he will measure it for chaos and destruction. It will be called the Land of Nothing, and all its nobles will soon be gone. Thorns will overrun its palaces; nettles and thistles will grow in its forts. The ruins will become a haunt for jackals and a home for owls (11-13). G_d did not do this to rile the base but to remind the nations how close they are to the edge and that as one nation can be destroyed, so can another; as one king can lose his crown, so can another. Search the book of the LORD, and see what he will do. Not one of these birds and animals will be missing, and none will lack a mate, for the LORD has promised this. His Spirit will make it all come true. He has surveyed and divided the land and deeded it over to those creatures. They will possess it forever, from generation to generation (16-17).
Mark 4 – Parable of the Farmer Scattering Seed. The people of that time were farmers and fishermen so it made sense that Jesus illustrated the Kingdom of Heaven in the terms of planting. When a farmer plants seeds, he/she will clear the land, remove the rocks, and fertilize the land so that they get the desired crop. The three types of soil illustrated how the word of G_d was received and how it either grew in that person’s life or the fruit was quickly quashed by fear and doubt. Not everybody who came to Jesus continued in him because of the fear of the Sanhedrin or Rome. Later, when Jesus was alone with the twelve disciples and with the others who have gathered around, they asked him what the parables meant. He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secret of the Kingdom of God. But I use parables for everything I say to outsiders so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled: ‘When they see what I do, they will learn nothing. When they hear what I say,
they will not understand. Otherwise, they will turn to me and be forgiven (10-12).’” Learning about the Kingdom of Heaven and uncovering the riddles is not easy it requires study and learning and applying the word into our lives. Having the faith to face a storm is not something we can “fake until we make it” if it was, the disciples would not have been afraid when the storms came in (35-41).