Reading #1 – Luke 15
Reading #2 – Psalms 83
Reading #3 – Lamentations 3
Reading #4 – Isaiah 61
Reading #5 – 2 Chronicle 9
2 Chronicles 9 – Queen of Sheba Visits Solomon. Queen of Sheba came to visit Solomon to see if the stories she heard about Solomon were true (1). By the time of the visit, Solomon was already wealthy so the gold of Ophir, sandalwood, and animals was the icing on the cake. The problem was that the wealth corrupted Solomon’s heart which added to the problem of the foreign-born wives. The story of Solomon’s life could be summed up with “Going too far with the treasure and not far enough in his walk with the Lord G_d. At the end of his reign, the kingdom was in ruins and would be divided.
Psalms 83 – Song of Asaph. The nations that Asaph was referencing were the same kingdoms that were vassal to Israel. The Ishmaelites are related to Abraham through Haggar Sarah’s maidservant (Genesis 16). The mess the Israelites were in were due to poor decisions. When we make bad decisions, bad things occur over a period of time. When we get into jams, it is a natural tendency to seek G_d’s face for relief, come to find out that relief comes when we realize that the mess we are in is due to our actions and the problems are a by-product; this leads to repentance. Saying “I’m sorry” is ok but actions speak louder than words or Proverbs states, “By mercy and lovingkindness and truth [not superficial ritual] wickedness is cleansed from the heart, And by the fear of the LORD one avoids evil (Proverbs 16:6).”
Isaiah 61 – Good News for the Oppressed. As Israel’s journey from slavery to salvation, a prevailing question is, “When Lord when?” When the delegation was sent to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple and the walls, what they came back to was a far cry from what they left. In the same way, when we sin to the point of no return like the Israelites did, our life as we knew it is destroyed, our family/families is/are decimated, and any hope we had for a happy reunion is dashed. We will rebuild the physical structures a whole lot easier and a whole lot quicker than we can rebuild the spiritual structures (our family). The people received this prophecy from the school of Isaiah and it sounds wonderful yet, they fail to realize like we fail to realize, is that healing in the Kingdom of G_d is not an immediate occurrence. The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me, for the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed (1). Forgiveness is a two-way street, G_d forgives us for our failures and we, in turn, must forgive ourselves and those who hurt us. The power of scripture is not the words on the page, it is applying the word to our life otherwise, we recite the words and think the power will occur and when it doesn’t, we become angry and walk away. The Devil used the ploy of quoting scripture to get Jesus to coalesce but it didn’t work.
Lamentations 3 – Hope in the Lord’s Faithfulness. Jeremiah the prophet was beaten, thrown into a cistern, lied about, and used a “curse word.” Through it, his heart remained connected to the Lord G_d even when he was told to “stop it.” I am the one who has seen the afflictions that come from the rod of the LORD’s anger. He has led me into darkness, shutting out all light. He has turned his hand against me again and again, all day long (1-3). If anybody had a right to complain, it was Jeremiah because the king and his entourage laughed at what he had to say and the king went so far as to cut off Jeremiah’s scroll little bits at a time and threw them into the fire (Jeremiah 36). So, why did he have such extraordinary faith? Because he knew the truth and the truth set him free. Faith allows you to see beyond the circumstance and is built upon witnessing all that G_d has done in your life and that of your family.
Luke 15 – The Prodigal Son. The rich man’s youngest son wanted his share of his father’s inheritance so he demanded it. The young man then packed up his stuff and went to live in the city where he spent every dime his father gave him which the father most likely knew would happen. When he was destitute, he hired himself out a local farmer who had him feeding tusks to the pigs a job only for a lowly servant which is what the young man became. When the young man came to his senses, he thought about how his father treated the servants and how well they were fed. So he thought “I will go back and request to be a servant so at least I can eat.” When he was within sight of his home, the father came out to greet him. The boy recited the words he had practiced but an awesome thing happened, the father had a fancy robe put on him, a ring placed on his finger, and sandals for his feet. While the boy was welcomed back, he was not given any more money and probably didn’t want anymore anyway. The boy’s brother became upset because “this wanton snit foolishly spent everything he was given and my father throws a party for him instead of throwing the book at him.” but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’ “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours (29-32).