I’ve Got Everything I Need, Right?

Photo credit here

S (Scripture): 2 Kings 17:4b Hoshea (king of Israel) stopped paying tribute to the Assyrian king as he had in previous years, so the Assyrian king arrested him and put him in prison. 5 Then the Assyrian king invaded the whole country. He marched against Samaria and attacked it for three years. 6 In Hoshea’s ninth year, the Assyrian king captured Samaria. He sent Israel into exile to Assyria, resettling them in Halah, in Gozan on the Habor River, and in the cities of the Medes.

O (Observation): At this point in the history of the Hebrew people, we see a divided people of God: The northern kingdom (Israel) and the southern kingdom (Judah). Each kingdom had its own king.

Politics became the god of the people. They made decisions not based on what God spoke through the prophets, but rather what they felt was the best way to secure their own wants and needs. Sometimes, the needs were about protection from enemies (like Israel’s king paying the Assyrian king for protection). When this favor ends, so does the friendship. And Assyria conquered Israel, exiling (most of) the people of Israel through Assyria. (No better way of getting rid of a people than by making them become your people.)

A (Application): So, the more we rely on ourselves, the worse our predicament becomes. Yet, this is the battle we face. This is the temptation we succumb to time and time again.

To whom do we turn in difficult times? Ourselves? Our money to buy things to make us happy? Our work to help us feel like we are accomplishing something? Our chore list to make sure we get that done?

What makes us feel whole? None of the things I listed. We might get temporary satisfaction…but they don’t last.

Relying on God has been an “On again / off again” thing, if I’m honest. I do things from time to time just to show I can do them, like I’m proving my worth to God and others.

Yet, this is not what God requires of me. God simply calls on me to believe that Jesus came to show us that we have everything we need: gifting from the Spirit, a relationship with God, and disciples to journey alongside.

May you see your blessings this day.

P (Prayer): Lord, guide us this day, as always. Amen.

How Do We Speak to One Another???

(Photo credit here)

S (Scripture): Isaiah 9

1 Nonetheless, those who were in distress won’t be exhausted. At an earlier time, God cursed the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but later he glorified the way of the sea, the far side of the Jordan, and the Galilee of the nations.

2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light. On those living in a pitch-dark land, light has dawned.
3 You have made the nation great;
you have increased its joy.
They rejoiced before you as with joy at the harvest, as those who divide plunder rejoice.
4 As on the day of Midian, you’ve shattered the yoke that burdened them, the staff on their shoulders, and the rod of their oppressor.
5 Because every boot of the thundering warriors,
and every garment rolled in blood will be burned, fuel for the fire.
6 A child is born to us, a son is given to us,
and authority will be on his shoulders.
He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
7 There will be vast authority and endless peace
for David’s throne and for his kingdom,
establishing and sustaining it with justice and righteousness now and forever.
The zeal of the Lord of heavenly forces will do this.

O (Observation): In Isaiah’s time, God was thought to be responsible for bringing blessings and consequences in the world.  Judah was the remnant of God’s people and God was going to find a way to bring hope for them.   Good news, indeed, with foreign powers closing in around them.   

The hope God provides is in the form of a child who is to come.  Isaiah speaks this promise for God, bringing good news to the people of God. This hope would take time to come to fulfillment,  but God’s promises would indeed come true for Christians as Jesus, descendant of David, would eventually be born in Bethlehem.  

A (Application):  We can have quite a hard time being a people of hope.   We can see political divides and social barriers all around us.   And when we hear of opinions the opposite of our own, we get defensive real quick.  

Why do we get so defensive?   Why do we feel like we have to teach other people what to think or how to think?   Instead, can’t we see a way forward that includes learning from one another, rather than forcing our opinion on another?   I’m not saying we shouldn’t all have thoughts and opinions.  Rather, we should continue to listen to one another and encourage discussion, rather trying to win every conversation.  

My hope lies in God, bringing us peace.  I lean not solely on my own understanding, but on what God has done, is doing , and will do in my life: namely, bring me grace and mercy.  May I entend that to others as we engage in potentially divisive conversations.  

P (Prayer): May we approach our conversations with grace and mercy this day. Amen. 

Sibling Rivalry


Stewie battles Bertram for playground supremacy.

S (Scripture): 2 Kings 14:11 But Amaziah would not heed the warning, so King Jehoash of Israel attacked. He and King Amaziah of Judah met face to face in Beth Shemesh of Judah. 14:12 Judah was defeated by Israel, and each man ran back home. 14:13 King Jehoash of Israel captured King Amaziah of Judah, son of Jehoash son of Ahaziah, in Beth Shemesh. He attacked Jerusalem and broke down the wall of Jerusalem from the Gate of Ephraim to the Corner Gate – a distance of about six hundred feet. 14:14 He took away all the gold and silver, all the items found in the Lord’s temple and in the treasuries of the royal palace, and some hostages. Then he went back to Samaria.

O (Observation): How did we get here? Formerly ONE people, the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah are at each other’s throats, and have been for some time. At first, a band of tribes in the Promise Land, unified under King David as one nation, and now…ugh.

How did they get here? Sin. Plain and simple. Peel back the layers, the difficult to mention names of kings and lands in Judah and Israel. What is pointed to time and again? Idolatry.

God’s people are worshipping something other than God. This breaks the first commandment: You shall have no other God. They have broken this commandment time and time again, praying to Ba’al and other gods. And this sin has led them down the path of sibling rivalry. Same God as Father, but squabbling over power and fame.

A (Application): Hatfield’s and McCoy’s? Rosecrans and Guildenstern? Pride and selfishness rule in these literary figures…as they do in the Bible in the struggles of Israel and Judah after the reign of King David and King Solomon…as it does in our lives. Pride, Lust for Power…these things all spawn from the question: “in whom do we give our allegiance and in what/whom do we trust?”

If the answer is anything but God, then we will know the pain and suffering of these folks we read about in today’s scripture. We are already feeling it…but we also have one in whom we hope, one who delivers us. Judah and Israel fall. That’s their outcome. We fall too…but we all have a Savior who brings us back into the fold. One who teaches us the way. One who brings us back into relationship with God. One who calls us to represent God in the world.

This person is Jesus of Nazareth, the one whose birth we celebrate every year at this time…the one who will come again.

Where is your brokenness? In whom/what do you trust? Where can Jesus bring healing? Is that healing occurring already for you?

P (Prayer): Lord, help us to see past our selfish pride and help us to look to you as our guide and as our source of hope. Amen.