Today’s Bible reading: 2 Kings 13-14:29; Acts 18:23-19:12; Psalm 146:1-10; Proverbs 18:2-3
King Johoahaz was a bad king and during his reign God allowed Aram (modern-day Syria) to defeat Israel (2 Kings 13:2). Then Johoahaz prayed to God for help. The Hebrew text implies that he was the end of this rope; he was utterly defeated. Sometimes it takes a lot to bring us to the place where we will turn from our sin and back to the Lord.
God answered the prayer, but the sin did not stop (2 Kings 13:5-6). Because of this lack of relationship with God they became weak (2 Kings 13:7). Fellowship with God is like food for the body. Without it we will lose our strength.
Even great men of God will die, and in 2 Kings 13:2o Elisha dies. Just prior to his death he is visited by King Jehoash of Israel. King Jehoash was not a particularly godly man, but he recognized Elisha as having a strong relationship with God. Christians should live their lives in such a way that even the non believers around us will see God’s presence.
Amaziah becomes king of Judah in 2 Kings 14. He was a good king, but not as good as David (2 Kings 14:3). Amaziah wins a relatively small victory over Edom (2 Kings 14:7) and lets that victory go to his head. He thinks he can defeat the much larger army of Israel (2 Kings 14:8). I think after we have a victory over sin we can get a bit overconfident and decide we can take on larger enemies. That is not necessarily true. We need to listen to God and walk with Him. It is His goal for us to grow stronger, but only He knows what we are capable of and what our next assignment should be.
Amaziah is soundly defeated by Israel which undermines his credibility (2 Kings 14:11-14, 19) which leads to his death. If he had only been more humble and had listened to God’s instruction rather than acting on his own this would not have happened.
We briefly meet Jonah today (2 Kings 14:25). This is the same man God will send to Nineveh. We’ll read that great story later this year. But here we learn that Jonah had a ministry in Israel prior to that experience.
Paul begins his third missionary journey in Acts 18:23 after spending some time in Antioch, resting after his second mission. But even while there Paul was working for the Lord by ministering to believers.
Priscilla and Aquila (notice that her name is again listed first) help a well-meaning Jew, Apollos, learn more about Jesus in Acts 18:26. Apollos knew some things, but not everything. When we see another believer who is very interested in God’s word but who may be lacking a bit of knowledge, we should help him/her. Likewise, we need to be open to being taught by other believers who know more than we do.
With his knew understanding Apollos not only debated Jews, but refuted them with powerful arguments from the Scriptures (Acts 18:28). This is exactly how it should be done. We should not focus on secondary issues – like creation vs. evolution. We should focus on the primary message – salvation through Jesus.
In Acts 19:1-7 we learn that no one is a true believer in Jesus without having the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, who is God living inside a person, is the evidence that someone has been truly saved. The people had seemingly repented and were baptized (Acts 19:6). But they had to be changed not only on the outside, but on the inside as well.
While in Ephesus Paul held daily teachings. This went on for 2 years (Acts 19:9-10). Paul was unbelievably dedicated. He gave up a lot of his life so that others would hear God’s word. I can’t imagine what it means to be that dedicated to God.
No one, no matter how powerful can truly help us. They are mortals just like us who don’t have the answers (Psalm 146:3-4). Relying on God is the solution (Psalm 146:5). He will open the eyes of the blind and lift up those who are heavily burdened (Psalm 146:8).
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