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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2 Kings 5:1-17

Today’s Scripture Focus:  2 Kings 5:1-17

                 Elijah, prophet to the kings of Israel, was taken up in a fiery chariot and whirlwind.   However, as he was going up into the heavens, his sheepskin cloak fell to the earth.  His disciple Elisha picked it up, and in so doing took on the role of chief prophet.  Now it was Elisha’s job to speak to an increasingly wicked and troubled Israel on behalf of God, and intercede to God on behalf of the people.  Immediately, the “school of prophets” recognized Elisha’s authority, and began following him.  A series of prophetic events, such as the “she-bear” attacking the youths who mocked Elisha and his interaction with poor and rich women confirmed God was with him.

Today’s scripture focus is about a foreign general named Naaman.  Naaman had been given a measure of military success in Aram, a territory in central Syria.  Unfortunately, Naaman had a skin disease that caused him much grief.  All skin diseases in the Bible are called “leprosy”.  Naaman’s wife had an Israelite slave girl who knew of the prophet Elisha, whom she mentioned.  Immediately Naaman petitioned his king to send him to Israel.  The king agreed, and sent him with the appropriate gifts to Israel’s king.  Unfortunately, no one had really listened to the servant, and Israel’s king was clueless regarding how to help Naaman.

Israel’s king was convinced the king of Aram was trying to trap him into a war, and tore his clothes in anguish.  Elisha heard about what was happening, and sent for Naaman.  The general would have expected Elisha to come out to meet him and perform a healing rite, or apply a magic balm to his skin.  Instead, the prophet angered Naaman by not even bothering to come out and meet him, but simply instructing him to go swim in the Jordan river!  This was insulting to Naaman, but a brave servant talked him into giving it a try.  What did he have to lose?  When Naaman followed the prophets instructions, his skin became like a baby’s!

It is interesting that in this story, the only ones named are Elisha and Naaman.  The two kings and the servant girl are all nameless, placing them on the same level.  While the king of Israel was frightened by a foreign general, the prophet was not intimidated by him in the least.  The remedy prescribed Naaman was one for a common man, and not a mighty military hero.  Our scripture focus shows that God does not respect status or standing.  God respects humility and obedience.  The mighty soldier had not learned humility through his illness, so God allowed him to learn it through his cure.   God will work in whatever ways necessary to humble us.

  • 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.

Has God ever answered prayer in your life in a way you did not expect?  Has God ever used your life circumstances to increase your faith? 

 

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

 

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

August 24th-30th, 2014

Prayer of the Week:  

Almighty God, You have given Your only Son to be for us a sacrifice for sin, and also an example of godly life: Give us grace to receive thankfully the fruits of this redeeming work, and to follow daily in the blessed steps of His most holy life; through Jesus Christ Your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Daily Scripture Focus:

Sunday—Psalm 94:1-7, 2 Kings 5:1-17

Monday—Psalm 94:8, 2 Kings 8

Tuesday—Psalm 94:9, 2 Kings 9:1-18

Wednesday—Psalm 94:10, 2 Kings 9:19-37

Thursday—Psalm 94:11-12, 2 Kings 10

Friday— Psalm 94:13-14, 2 Kings 11

Saturday—Psalm 94:8-14, 2 Kings 8:1-15

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 17th, 2014

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2 Kings 2:1-15

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

                 Today we pick up the “History” section of scripture with the book of 2 Kings.  When we left off, Elijah had been raised up as a prophet to confront the kings of Israel, primarily Ahab.  God displayed power through Elijah in miraculous ways, but Elijah became discouraged and fled to the mountains.  It was there, in a still small voice, that God reminded Elijah that 7000 faithful prophets still lived in Israel, and that Elijah would mentor one of them named Elisha, who would take his place.  Elijah immediately went and found Elisha, and placed his mantle (a sheepskin overcoat) on him (I Kings 19).  Elisha left everything, and the two became inseparable.

In today’s scripture focus, we see that God is getting ready to take Elijah away.  As he prepares to set out from Gilgal, he tells Elisha to stay behind, but Elisha knows what is getting ready to happen, and refuses to leave his side.  The “sons of the prophets” mentioned three times here were part of the 7,000 mentioned in I Kings 19.  God had revealed to them through the Spirit that Elijah would be taken, and they point this out to Elisha, who responds with a terse “I already know—be quiet!”  He is both grieved at losing his spiritual father, and overwhelmed with the task before him of filling his role.

Seeing that Elisha is serious about following in his footsteps, Elijah asks Elisha if there is anything he can do for him before he leaves.  Elisha asks for a double portion of the spirit that is within Elijah.  He is not asking for twice as much spirit as Elijah—he is asking for the “double share” of the inheritance an eldest son would receive from a father at his death.  Only by exhibiting the same miraculous power that Elijah had shown would Elisha be accepted as his successor.  Suddenly, a fiery chariot comes and picks up Elijah, and he disappears in a storm cloud.  However, his mantle falls to the ground, and Elisha takes it up.

So, did Elisha receive the “double dose” inheritance?  He did.  Right before Elijah was taken up, he had struck the Jordan with his mantle and parted the waters, allowing he and Elisha to cross on dry land.  This was symbolic of Moses parting the Red Sea.  After Elijah was taken, Elisha takes the same mantle, strikes the Jordan, and it parts in the same way!  This is symbolic of Joshua crossing the Jordan.  Elisha had become the Joshua to Elijah’s Moses.  Not only would he have the power of his mentor—he would carry on the work he had begun.  God would continue to have a voice among an increasingly wicked Israel.

  • 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.

Who is your spiritual father or mother?  Who has had the most influence in your life spiritually?  Do you have any spiritual children—those who look up to you for guidance in their walk with God? 

 

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

 

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