Today’s Bible reading: 2 Kings 6-7:20; Acts 15:36-16:15; Psalm 142:1-7; Proverbs 17:24-25
In 2 Kings 6:5 a man who loses the head of his axe. This may seem like a small issue, but that is the point. God isn’t only interested in the “big” problems in our lives, but the small ones too. He cares about us. He even cares when we misplace or lose our possessions.
Even though Israel had fallen into deep sin, God protected them as we see in 2 Kings 6:9-10. God is patient (the Bible calls Him “forbearing”). Israel had turned to other gods long ago, but God is still waiting for them to turn back to Him. Its amazing to read these Old Testament stories and see just how incredibly patient God is with us and how good He is to us when we are far from deserving.
When the Arameans besiege Samaria things get so bad the people resort to cannibalism (2 Kings 6:28-29). But rather than realize that it was his own sin and the sin of the people that brought these problems, the king blames Elisha, the one who was truly following God (2 Kings 6:31). Sound familiar? This is exactly how Christians are looked at in the United States. We get blamed for the emotional problems of homosexuals (because we don’t accept them) or traumatic pregnancies (since we oppose abortion). The real problem is sin. The real problem is we, as a nation, aren’t following God.
I found it interesting that God used the outcasts of society, lepers, to bring the good news of the retreat of the Aramean army in 2 Kings 7. God does look to bless those that society rejects. In this passage God allows the lepers to plunder the Aramean camp first, taking some of the best spoils for themselves (2 Kings 6:8-9).
Notice that the lepers can’t keep this good news to themselves (2 Kings 6:9). That is just how it is with the good news of Jesus Christ – it was meant to be shared.
Another interesting thing is why the Arameans fled. Notice that God “caused” them to hear the sound of a great army (2 Kings 6:6). God’s victories are always pretty cool. The defeated Jericho by having the Israelites march around it and shout. And He will defeat the forces that attack Israel at the war of Gog and Magog by confusing them into killing each other (Ezekiel 38:21).
In 2 Kings 7:12 we see a typical reaction a non believer has to the work of God: the attribute it to something else. Rather than believe in God, non believers look at miraculous situations or answers to prayer and continue to not believe. This is one reason why Jesus told us that even if someone came back from the dead, a living non believer would still not believe (Luke 16:19-31).
Even believers will not always agree with each other as we see in Acts 15:36-41. Paul and Barnabas sharply disagreed on the role John Mark should play in their ministry. This caused them to split. Who was right and who was wrong we don’t know. But we do know that God used this human situation to reach more people with the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Today we meet Timothy (Acts 16:1). Timothy was a strong believer in Lystra, a town where Paul was stoned previously. Paul was so impressed with Timothy that he asks him to join him. No one is irreplaceable in the work of God. Barnabas was no longer around, so God provided Timothy to Paul.
Paul wanted to go to Asia (modern-day Turkey) but was prevented by the Holy Spirit (Acts 16:6). So he decides to go to Bithynia (also modern-day Turkey) but is again prevented (Acts 16:7). We don’t know how God prevented Paul from going – it could have been an internal conviction or circumstances. But we see why God did this – He wanted Paul to go to Macedonia (Acts 16:9). God doesn’t only open doors He wants us to go through… He closes doors He does not want us to go through.
While there Paul meets a woman, Lydia, who accepts what Paul tells her. Notice it was God who opened her heart (Acts 16:14). I think it is important to ask God to open the hearts of the non believers we are trying to reach. For without an open heart it is impossible to believe. Notice that the first of Paul’s converts in Europe (he is now in modern-day Greece) was a woman.
Life can be overwhelming. We can have many troubles. Through it all God has the solution (Psalm 142:1-3). There are so many things in life I’d like to have. But really the only thing I need is God (Psalm 142:5).
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