Reading #1 – Luke 18
Reading #2 – Psalms 86
Reading #3 – Ecclesiastes 1
Reading #4 – Isaiah 64
Reading #5 – 2 Chronicle 12
2 Chronicles 12 – Egypt Invades Judah. When Egypt invaded Judah in 926 BC, they took everything of value including the gold shields that Solomon made. The king and the people repented of their sin by acknowledging that the Lord was righteous in allowing Egypt to decimate the land (6). Repenting did not overturn the Egyptians and turn back their assault on the kingdom, it made things right with the Lord. However, the kingdom would remain under the control of Egypt for about a year. But they will become his subjects, so they will know the difference between serving me and serving earthly rulers (8).
Psalms 86 – A Psalm of David. David was under attack from the world of the time. He could have capitulated to the attack and surrendered his faith in G_d. Instead, he turned his face to G_d and sought his favor. Bend down, O LORD, and hear my prayer; answer me, for I need your help. Protect me, for I am devoted to you. Save me, for I serve you and trust you. You are my God (1-2). Prayer is one of the key spiritual weapons in our arsenal (Ephesians 6:18). What David was going through was more than a minor inconvenience, it was pulling at his heart and his faith. Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am calling on you constantly. Give me happiness, O Lord, for I give myself to you. O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help (3-5). David’s struggle like our struggle is not against flesh and blood but the Devil, his army, and stooges (Ephesians 6:12). So when we face the Devil, we need to be prepared. Preparations begin with prayer, knowing G_d’s Word, and fortifying our faith. No pagan god is like you, O Lord. None can do what you do! Before this will happen “All the nations you made will come and bow before you, Lord; they will praise your holy name. For you are great and perform wonderful deeds. You alone are God (8-10)”, we need to have our heart right before G_d. This is the difference between fighting the flesh and defeating the world’s champion, “The Devil”. Look down and have mercy on me. Give your strength to your servant; save me, the son of your servant. Send me a sign of your favor. Then those who hate me will be put to shame, for you, O LORD, help and comfort me (16-17).
Ecclesiastes 1 – The Devil’s Treadmill. 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. Rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full. Then the water returns to the rivers and flows out again to the sea. Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content (4-8). After Solomon built everything he had desired to do, acquired a vast amount of wealth, and enjoyed the richest affair, the only thought that came to mind was “Meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless (2). What Solomon learned, we need to learn, and that is, “things cannot make our content, they can only fill our closet and clutter our life. 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). The Devil uses life as a treadmill to turn it on and the people walk and then put out a carrot (the impetus to motivate the human) in front of them and they will strive for it but never get it.
Isaiah 64 – Prayer and Mercy (continued). When our eyes are on the Lord, the world and its champion will do everything within their power to dissuade us from following the path of the Lamb. When David attacked Goliath, he wasn’t the biggest nor the best so he should never have won the battle; it was what he had in his heart, not his hand that won the day. In the same way, when we see the world succeeding and laughing at our foolishness, we can either join them or beat them it is our choice, not the Devil’s. For since the world began, no ear has heard and no eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for him (4)! Sometimes, though, we have to wait for the Lord no matter how long it takes because G_d doesn’t work on our timetable. The temple had been destroyed (11) but that did not dissuade the writer from trusting in the Lord G_d because the power was not in the temple. The writer was not antsy because sacrifice had not been offered, after all, the power was not in the sacrifice. The power is in the commitment of the heart. The writer knew that he was a sinner just like every other man/woman, and child on planet earth. The difference between this man and the rest of the world was that his heart was set on pilgrimage (Psalms 84:5). And yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We all are formed by your hand. Don’t be so angry with us, LORD. Please don’t remember our sins forever. Look at us, we pray, and see that we are all your people (8-9).
Luke 18 – Parable of the Persistent Widow. The widow sought relief from the king and would continually come before him to ask about it. The king could have locked the doors and not let her in but, thought “she might just hurt me so I better acquiesce.” Jesus used this as an illustration of the power of continual prayer. G_d will answer our prayers in his time but we show “we don’t care” he will do nothing about our situation. Ask and keep on asking and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking and you will find; knock and keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who keeps on asking receives, and he who keeps on seeking finds, and to him who keeps on knocking, it will be opened (Matthew 7:7-8). The Devil will be the first one on the scene when we go into prayer especially on important matters. The Devil knows that when G_d answers prayer, faith grows if faith grows, lives flock to the kingdom and that is something he does not want. The tax collector was the worst person in the community because he collected taxes for the kingdom at the ire of the people. The religious man must have thought, “That man can’t possibly be welcomed into the Kingdom especially when it has someone of my caliber”. “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted (13-14).”