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June 28th, 2010

DAILY BIBLE READING

 Jun 28: 1King 20-21
Jun 29: 1King 22; 2Chron 18
Jun 30: 2Chron 19-23
Jul 1: Oba; Ps 82-83
Jul 2: 2King 1-4
Jul 3: 2King 5-8
Jul 4: 2King 9-11
Jul 5: 2King 12-13; 2Chron 24

 

NOTES ON THE BIBLE READINGS

·         If you’re on schedule, this week (June 30) you are half way reading through the Bible!  Congratulations.

·         Reading through the Bible is a mixed experience for some people.  One person wrote me in an e-mail recently, ““I have gotten so far behind because I have become so involved in making sense of the killings, violence, and repetition of many of the events.”  Another posted on Facebook, “More baffled than ever about the Song of Songs.”  Many who started with good intentions at the beginning of 2010 have long since given up.

·         It just seems like the experience should be more consistently rewarding.  It’s one of those things you always feel like you should do.  But then you realize the whole Bible is not exactly like the parts we know best – Moses parting the Red Sea, Jesus feeding the 5,000, and Paul writing letters of practical encouragement.  Some of the Bible seems dry.  Other parts are repetitious.  Still other stories are like the ugly toenail you hope nobody ever sees or notices.

·         I don’t feel any need to defend God or the Bible.  (When Martin Luther was asked once about defending the Bible he answered, “I’d sooner defend a lion.”)  I’m OK with admitting that I join those who are occasionally bored or confused.  But there is SO much worth uncovering, including one-liners of wisdom I’m currently posting daily on Twitter and Facebook. And there are great stories, if lesser known, with powerful implications.  See this week’s devotions.

·         A lot of this week’s reading has to do with Elisha, Elijah’s successor.  Lesser known than his mentor, Elisha is important because his ministry parallels that of Jesus in several ways – following the one who prepared the way, caring for the poor and outcast, specific miracles such as healing lepers and multiplying loaves.

 

DEVOTIONS

I love the story of four lepers in 2 Kings 7.  Jerusalem had been under siege from the Aramean army, resulting in a severe famine.  The lepers were even worse off than everyone else.  They were rejected from the city due to their disease, and begging at the city gate wasn’t going to help either.

So they calculated their survival odds, and decided their best bet was to go to the enemy camp and surrender to the Arameans.  They might be killed, but maybe that would be a preferable way to die anyway vis-à-vis starvation.

Surprise!  When they got to the Aramean camp, there wasn’t a soldier around.  God had caused the invaders to “hear” something that sounded like a huge army with chariots, and they all ran in terror – leaving behind their weapons, treasures, and food.  Now four Jewish lepers were splurging on food and hoarding the plunder.  Meanwhile, Jerusalem was still starving – unaware the threat was gone and food was plentiful.

Then it dawned on them – it was just wrong for them to enjoy this plenty while others were in such need.  “This is a day of good news and we’re keeping it to ourselves.”

Wow.  What a reminder and a rebuke for us.  What “good news” – spiritually, materially, or otherwise, are you hoarding?

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