September 14th, 2014

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2 Kings 17:1-14

Today’s Scripture Focus:  2 Kings 17:(1-6) 7-14

                 Today’s scripture focus chronicles the reign of Hoshea, the last king of Israel .  Remember that Israel used to be one unified kingdom under David and Solomon.  After Solomon’s death, his son raised the taxes of the ten northern tribes, while exempting his own tribe, Judah, from paying any!  This led to the civil war, and the ten northern tribes broke away.  As a result, there were now two nations of Jews—Israel in the north and Judah in the south.  In order to keep their citizens from defecting to Judah, the king of Israel built temples where the people could worship locally, rather than travel to Jerusalem.

Without a connection to the feasts and fasts observed at Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, the kings and people soon fell into pagan idol worship.  While David’s descendants remained on the throne in Judah, Israel was constantly changing kings and royal dynasties through rebellion, assassination, and war with surrounding nations.  Israel’s last king Hoshea took the throne after killing Pekah, who had killed Pekahiah before him!  It is recorded of Hoshea that he did “evil in the eyes of the Lord”, but not as much as the guys who came before him!  However, being not as bad as somebody else was not enough to spare Hoshea and save Israel.

Under Hoshea, Israel had been paying tribute to Assyria, the most powerful empire in the world at the time.  However, Hoshea tried to get a better deal by forming an alliance with Egypt.  When the Assyrian king found out, he put Hoshea in prison.  After three years of war, Assyria conquered Samaria, the capital of Israel.  Assyria’s custom was to remove a large percentage of the natives of conquered lands and scatter them across the empire, while resettling the land with foreigners.  This is what happened in Israel.  The descendants of the remaining Israelites and foreign immigrants eventually became the despised Samaritans of Jesus’ day.

The second half of chapter 17 explains why Israel was conquered and exiled.  They had failed to remember.  When Israel built their own centers of worship instead of following God’s plan, people no longer heard the story of how God had delivered them.  They quit studying the covenant and the Law.  Everybody did what was right in their own eyes.  Every household had their own gods and own ways to worship that god, including prostitution and child sacrifice!  God sent prophets to warn the people, but in their stubbornness they refused to listen.  God will only allow sin for a season.  God is patient, but  eventually all sin leads to destruction.

  • Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
  • Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
  • Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.

Israel forgot about God, and it eventually led to their downfall.  Do you see parallels between Israel and our culture today? 

 

Is there anything in today’s scripture that especially speaks to you?

 

What questions would you like to ask about today’s scripture?

September 14th-20th, 2014

Prayer of the Week:  

O God, because without You we are not able to please You, mercifully grant that Your Holy Spirit may in all things direct
and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and
for ever. Amen.

Daily Scripture Focus:

Sunday—Psalm 95:4:16-24, 2 Kings 17:1-14

Monday—Psalm 95:1, 2 Kings 19:1-19

Tuesday—Psalm 95:2, 2 Kings 19:20-37

Wednesday—Psalm 95:3, 2 Kings 20:1-11

Thursday—Psalm 95:4, 2 Kings 20:12-21

Friday— Psalm 95:5, 2 Kings 21

Saturday—Psalm 95:1-5, 2 Kings 20:12-21

Prayer List:  Delferd Sloan, Larry and Jesse Grossman, Ruth Donohoe, Brianna Hope * Michelle Raglin, Polly Staley, Marcus Davis, Barnum Briscoe Family, Jane Pennington, James Haynie * Carl Rider, Faye Doyle, Raglin family, Collins family, Sue Kennington, Dexter Jackson * Wanda Palmer, family of Janie Ramsey, Jacque Young, family of Garlin Ward, Larry Lumm * Jeannine Hope

 

September 7th, 2014

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2 Kings 12:1-8

Today’s Scripture Focus:  2 Kings 12:1-8

                 For the remainder of our time in Kings, we will examine the life of a different king of Judah or Israel each week.  Remember Judah was the Southern Kingdom, with Jerusalem as its capital and Solomon’s temple as its center of worship.  Israel was the Northern Kingdom.  Samaria was the capital city, with Bethel and Dan as centers of worship.  Judah was always ruled by a descendent of King David; Israel had nine different dynasties during its 200 year existence.  The fortunes of both kingdoms rose and fell, depending upon whether or not their kings served God faithfully.  Both kingdoms were eventually conquered by outside forces.

Today let’s look at one of Judah’s better kings— Joash (or Jehoash).  After his father’s untimely death, Joash’s grandmother had the entire royal family killed so she could rule in her son’s place.  Joash was an infant when his father died.  Fortunately, he was hidden by his aunt and uncle for six years.  This uncle—Jehoiada—was a prominent priest, and instructed Joash in the ways of the Lord.  Finally, when Joash was seven, his uncle revealed his existence to the people by placing him in a prominent place in the Temple.  The people immediately acknowledged him as the rightful king, and his wicked grandmother was executed.

Joash reigned over Judah for forty years.  This was the same length of time that Solomon reigned, which is notable because the most significant accomplishment of Joash’s tenure was the repair of Solomon’s Temple.  The Temple was over 130 years old by this point.  It had been neglected during the years of Joash’s grandmother, who like her father Ahab worshipped Ba’al.  Joash directed that certain monies given by the people for the military census, for vows, and for voluntary offerings be used to repair the Temple.  The priests, however, held onto the money.  Joash took over the project, and personally saw that the work was done.

Joash is described as righteous.  He did what was “right in the eyes of the Lord” for as long as his uncle was alive to advise him.  In spite of Joash’s faithfulness, his story did not end well. Temple restoration was cut short when Joash was forced to pay tribute to Hazael, king of Syria.  He had to turn all the gold and silver in the Temple and palace over to Hazael to avoid war.  Once Syria paid tribute to Judah—now the situation was reversed.  In the end, Joash was assassinated by his own cabinet!  The lesson of Joash’s life is that even if we are obedient, we may not see the “glory days” in our lifetime.  We are not called to be successful but faithful.

  • Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
  • Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
  • Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.

When was the last time you worked really hard on a project, only to have it fall apart or not work out the way you planned?  Do you feel it was a complete waste, or did you learn anything from it? 

 

Is there anything in today’s scripture that especially speaks to you?

 

What questions would you like to ask about today’s scripture?

 

September 7th-13th, 2014

Prayer of the Week:  

Grant us, O Lord, to trust in You with all our hearts; for, as You always resist the proud who confide in their own strength, so You never forsake those who make their boast of Your mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Daily Scripture Focus:

Sunday—Psalm 94:9-15, 2 Kings 12:1-8

Monday—Psalm 94:16, 2 Kings 15

Tuesday—Psalm 94:17-18, 2 Kings 16

Wednesday—Psalm 94:19-20, 2 Kings 17:1-23

Thursday—Psalm 94:21-22, 2 Kings 17:24-41

Friday— Psalm 94:23-24, 2 Kings 18

Saturday—Psalm 94:16-24, 2 Kings 17:1-14

Prayer List:  Jeannine Hope * Delferd Sloan, Larry and Jesse Grossman, Ruth Donohoe, Brianna Hope * Michelle Raglin, Polly Staley, Marcus Davis, Barnum Briscoe Family, Jane Pennington, James Haynie * Carl Rider, Faye Doyle, Raglin family, Collins family, Sue Kennington, Dexter Jackson * Wanda Palmer, family of Janie Ramsey, Jacque Young, family of Garlin Ward, Larry Lumm

 

August 31st, 2014

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2 Kings 8:1-15

Today’s Scripture Focus:  2 Kings 8:1-15

                  So far, the focus of 2 Kings has mostly been on the ministry of Elisha.  Elisha took over the role of chief prophet in  the northern kingdom of Israel from his mentor, Elijah.  Previously, in I King 19, God had told Elijah to anoint three men who would complete the work of ridding the land of all of wicked King Ahab’s family and the priests of the foreign god Ba’al.  These three men were Elisha, who would serve as prophet, Jehu, who would become Israel’s new king, and Hazael in Damascus who would become the new leader of Aram.  As far as we know, Elijah only got as far as anointing Elisha before being taken up to the heavens.

In the first section of today’s scripture, Elisha fulfills an obligation to a woman who provided care for him in the early days of his ministry.  The “Shunammite” woman had a room built on her home for Elisha when he came through her territory.  Elisha asked what he could do for her.  She needed nothing since she was wealthy, but she was childless.  Elisha intervened on her behalf, and she had a son.  When the son was older, he became ill and died.  Elisha again intervened, and her son came back to life.  After a severe famine in which the woman fled the country, Elisha was able to repay her hospitality by seeing that her land was restored to her.

In the second section of the scripture passage, Elisha fulfills the task given to his master Elijah regarding Hazael.  Elisha traveled to Syria, where the king of Aram was ill.  Relations between Israel and Aram were strained at that time, but the king recognized Elisha’s power, perhaps recalling how Namaan was healed of leprosy.  The king sent an extravagant gift to Elisha with his servant Hazael, inquiring whether he would recover from his illness.  Elisha saw that it wouldn’t be the illness that killed the king, but his servant Hazael.  Furthermore, Elisha wept as he saw into the future:  Hazael would make war against Israel and cause unspeakable suffering.

This week’s readings were about the conclusion of Elijah and Elisha’s ministries.  God had started the work of clearing Israel of Ba’al worship under Elijah, and would continue it under Elisha.  Elisha, in turn, confirmed the calls of the kings who would come after him and finish the job.  Under the men who came after Elisha, the entire dynasty of wicked King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, along with all the false priests and prophets of Ba’al would be completely wiped out.  Elijah and Elisha didn’t get to see their work finished, but without their faithfulness to God’s call it would have never begun.  Be faithful to God’s call today, and trust God with the results!

  • Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
  • Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
  • Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.

Are there people in your life for whom God has especially called you to care?  How can you help others to care for the people or causes you care about after you are gone? 

 

Is there anything in today’s scripture that especially speaks to you?

 

What questions would you like to ask about today’s scripture?

August 31st-September 6th, 2014

Prayer of the Week:  

Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: Graft in our hearts the love of your Name; increase in us true religion; nourish us with all goodness; and bring forth in us the fruit of good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Daily Scripture Focus:

Sunday—Psalm 94:8-14, 2 Kings 8:1-15

Monday—Psalm 94:9, 2 Kings 12

Tuesday—Psalm 94:10, 2 Kings 13:1-9

Wednesday—Psalm 94:11, 2 Kings 13:10-25

Thursday—Psalm 94:12-13, 2 Kings 14:1-22

Friday— Psalm 94:14-15, 2 Kings 14:23-29

Saturday—Psalm 94:9-15, 2 Kings 12:1-8

Prayer List:  Wanda Palmer, Zack Swain and family at the loss of his grandfather * Jeannine Hope * Delferd Sloan, Larry and Jesse Grossman, Ruth Donohoe, Brianna Hope * Michelle Raglin, Polly Staley, Marcus Davis, Barnum Briscoe Family, Jane Pennington, James Haynie * Carl Rider, Faye Doyle, Raglin family, Collins family, Sue Kennington, Dexter Jackson

August 24th, 2014

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