Reading #1 – John 3
Reading #2 – Psalms 95
Reading #3 – Ecclesiastes 10
Reading #4 – Jeremiah 7
Reading #5 – 2 Chronicle 21
2 Chronicles 21 – Jehoram Rules in Judah. Jehoram was the eldest son of Jehoshaphat the righteous king so he was given the throne. Jehoram’s brothers were given fortified cites in the kingdom. The problem entered in when Jehoram killed his brothers under the direction of his wife the daughter of Ahab. But Jehoram followed the example of the kings of Israel and was as wicked as King Ahab, for he had married one of Ahab’s daughters. So Jehoram did what was evil in the LORD’s sight (6). The Edomites who had been a vassal to Judah revolted and anointed their King. He had built pagan shrines in the hill country of Judah and had led the people of Jerusalem and Judah to give themselves to pagan gods and to go astray (11). The problem for Judah started when Jehoshaphat mistakenly accepted Ahab’s daughter for Jehoram’s wife. To make matters worse, the Arabs and Philistines attacked Judah and captured Jehoram’s wife, sons, and all of the treasures of the kingdom only the youngest son Ahaziah escaped (16-17). After suffering for two years with colon cancer, which was known at that time, he died in agony. His people did not build a great funeral fire to honor him as they had done for his ancestors. Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years. No one was sorry when he died. They buried him in the City of David, but not in the royal cemetery (19-20).
Psalms 95 – The Sabbath Day Prayer (continued). During the Sabbath day, it is a time for the people to stop what they are doing and spend quality time seeking the Lord G_d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Come, let us sing to the LORD! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come to him with thanksgiving. Let us sing psalms of praise to him. For the LORD is a great God, a great King above all gods. He holds in his hands the depths of the earth and the mightiest mountains. The sea belongs to him, for he made it. His hands formed the dry land, too (1-5). When we turn our eyes to Him we see His face and our hearts willingly offer praise. When our eyes are on the creation, we believe “man built them” but nobody explains where it all started or how. If only you would listen to his voice today (6b)! Not everybody who comes to the Lord on the Sabbath does it out of praise to G_d rather, it is done out of “rote” or “routine” which causes the people to become discouraged, beaten, and destroyed. Praising G_d is a personal decision. The LORD says, “Don’t harden your hearts as Israel did at Meribah, as they did at Massah in the wilderness. For there your ancestors tested and tried my patience, even though they saw everything I did. For forty years I was angry with them, and I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts turn away from me. They refuse to do what I tell them.’ So in my anger, I took an oath: ‘They will never enter my place of rest (8-11).’” When we come before the Lord it is in our best interest to let go of the anger we have towards others and ourselves. When we hold grudges or beat ourselves up, our eyes are on the creation and how we feel like we are “gipped”. From this, I believe anyways, Jesus spoke the parable of the importance of forgiveness. “My heavenly Father will also not forgive you if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart (Matthew 18:23-35).”
Ecclesiastes 10 – The Ironies of Life. If there is anything we can learn from life, it is unpredictable. In every situation, people predict what will happen, and sometimes, they make bad things happen. Foolishness is not limited by space and time because in every generation there are people who do foolish things to the ire of the nation. As dead flies cause even a bottle of perfume to stink, so a little foolishness spoils great wisdom and honor (1). G_d calls his people to listen to His word not that of the world. When we do foolish things, we bring trouble into our home and consequently destruction (Proverbs 11:29). When we make mistakes, it is in our best interest to quietly make amends so that further destruction is averted. If your boss is angry, don’t quit! A quiet spirit can overcome even great mistakes (4). There are things in life that we are powerless to change so, we pray and seek G_d’s face for the world around us. These ironies should never stop us but should compel us to be prepared before facing the world (8-9). Using a dull ax requires great strength, so sharpen the blade. That’s the value of wisdom; it helps you succeed (10). When the world does foolish things, it does not mean we have to follow their lead, ridicule their actions, nor purposely cause problems. It means we let them go their way and be there to help them when they fall. When the church causes problems and/or pokes fun at the rulers, we displease G_d and inherit the wind (20).
Jeremiah 7 – Jeremiah Speaks at the Temple. Jeremiah’s message would not be well received because it was hot water poured into cold hearts. When hot water is poured into a cold pipe, the pipe will make loud noises that awaken people. Don’t be fooled into thinking that you will never suffer because the Temple is here. It’s a lie! Do you think you can steal, murder, commit adultery, lie, and burn incense to Baal and all those other new gods of yours, and then come here and stand before me in my Temple and chant, “We are safe!”—only to go right back to all those evils again (8-10)? Just because you go to church or the temple doesn’t mean you are safe or on “hallowed ground”. What saves us is truly serving the Lord G_d every day and every hour of our life. So just as I destroyed Shiloh, I will now destroy this Temple that bears my name, this Temple that you trust in for help, this place that I gave to you and your ancestors. And I will send you out of my sight into exile, just as I did your relatives, the people of Israel (14-15). The finality of Jeremiah’s message was personal. G_d had enough with his people and would no longer help them (Isaiah 57:13, Judges 10:14). “Pray no more for these people, Jeremiah. Do not weep or pray for them, and don’t beg me to help them, for I will not listen to you (16). Jeremiah was sent the message not to change the hearts of people but to warn them which, of course, they did not listen to but are held accountable for what is said so they have no excuse (John 15:22). Tell them all this, but do not expect them to listen. Shout out your warnings, but do not expect them to respond. Say to them, ‘This is the nation whose people will not obey the LORD their God and who refuse to be taught. Truth has vanished from among them; it is no longer heard on their lips. Shave your head in mourning, and weep alone on the mountains. For the LORD has rejected and forsaken this generation that has provoked his fury (27-29).”
John 3 – Nicodemus Visits Jesus. After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. “Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.”Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God (2-3).” Jesus knew what was Nicodemus’ mind. The miracles that Jesus performed were extraordinary for that time. Nicodemus wanted to find out if this unruly character Jesus was the Messiah. After Jesus was crucified, it was Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea who bury him (John 19:38). Nicodemus, like Joseph of Arimathea, was waiting for the Messiah thinking this Messiah would live for eternity but did not understand why Jesus had to die. Jesus’ testimony, just like the disciples’ testimony, would make no sense to this celebrated teacher (10-11). “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants (16-21).” John the Baptist who would later be decapitated for daring to charge Herod and Herodias with sin, watched the masses going to Jesus. This, of course, caused problems for John’s disciples. So John’s disciples came to him and said, “Rabbi, the man you met on the other side of the Jordan River, the one you identified as the Messiah, is also baptizing people. And everybody is going to him instead of coming to us.” It is the bridegroom who marries the bride, and the bridegroom’s friend is simply glad to stand with him and hear his vows. Therefore, I am filled with joy at his success. He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less (26,29-30).