Day 151: It’s All in the Details…

2 Kings 8-10; John 9:1-41

Key Verses

2 Kings 8:19
Yet the Lord was not willing to destroy Judah, for the sake of David his servant, since he promised to give a lamp to him and to his sons forever.

John 9:1-3
As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

In 1 Kings 19, God instructed Elijah to anoint Elisha as his replacement, but God also told Elijah to anoint Hazael to be king over Syria, and Jehu the son of Nimshi to be king over Israel.

Finally, in today’s reading of 2 Kings, we see these instructions fulfilled, through Elisha. And by anointing Jehu king over Israel, God uses Jehu to fulfill the prophecy He made to Ahab (through Elijah) back in 1 Kings 21…

Thus says the Lord: ‘In the place where dogs licked up the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick [Ahab’s] own blood.’

And of Jezebel the Lord also said, ‘The dogs shall eat Jezebel within the walls of Jezreel.’ Anyone belonging to Ahab who dies in the city the dogs shall eat, and anyone of his who dies in the open country the birds of the heavens shall eat. (1 Kings 21:19; 23-24).

Because of Ahab’s repentance, God relented and saved the inevitable prophesy for his son, Jehoram. We read the fulfillment in all of its gory detail in today’s passage.

The intricate sovereignty of the Lord is displayed as he used sinful men to carry out his holy purposes. God orchestrated every detail, and every word of his prophecy came to pass… including the destruction of Baal worship in Israel. Amazing.

In today’s Old Testament reading, God’s glory is revealed in the sovereign execution of judgment. Conversely, in today’s New Testament reading, God shows his glory in the restoration of sight to a blind man.

The disciples assumed that the man’s blindness was the result of God’s judgment either for the man’s sin or his parents’ sin. But Jesus refutes the traditional thought that all suffering is brought about by God as judgment. Some suffering occurs so that God’s glory might be revealed through deliverance.

This was the case for the man born blind. God used his “light and momentary suffering” to reveal His glory through healing. Jesus also used the physical healing as a symbol for spiritual healing… insinuating to the Pharisees that they were spiritually blind because they claimed to see. “Jesus said, ‘For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.’ ” (John 9:39).

Was the glorious healing worth the years of suffering? I believe so. The suffering that the man endured primed his heart to receive the gospel. After years of suffering, he knew he needed a Savior. The eternal blessing always outweighs the temporal suffering!

God’s intricate handling of the details of our lives reveals a benevolent, powerful and sovereign God. C.S. Lewis’ allegorical depiction of Jesus as Aslan in his book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, captures both the terrifying and comforting aspects of God’s sovereignty…

“Is he—quite safe?”
[…]
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver […] “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” (-C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe)

Keeping up with the Kings

  • Judah: Rehoboam, Abijam, Asa (good), Jehoshaphat (good), Jehoram (son of Jehoshaphat), Ahaziah
  • Israel: Jeroboam, Nadab, Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Omri, Ahab, Ahaziah, Jehoram (or Joram, son of Ahab), Jehu, Jehoahaz

Day 110: A Purpose for Pain

1 Samuel 23-24; Psalm 54; Luke 17:1-19

Key Verses

1 Samuel 24:17-20
[Saul] said to David, “You are more righteous than I, for you have repaid me good, whereas I have repaid you evil. And you have declared this day how you have dealt well with me, in that you did not kill me when the Lord put me into your hands. For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him go away safe? So may the Lord reward you with good for what you have done to me this day. And now, behold, I know that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand.

Humility and Gratitude. They are the key to persevering through hardship. If we humbly consider ourselves unworthy servants, as Jesus teaches in Luke 17:7-10, we will be doubly grateful for any blessing that God gives. A perfect example of this principle is the story of the 10 lepers recorded in Luke 17:11-19. Jesus healed 10 lepers, but only one returned to thank him… and he was a Samaritan. Samaritans were traditionally despised by the Jews. Because of his humble position, the Samaritan was more grateful for Jesus’ gracious healing. Humility multiplies Gratitude.

These characteristics are evident in David from today’s reading from 1 Samuel. David had a chance to kill Saul, but his reverence for God would not allow him to strike the Lord’s anointed king. Instead of reveling in the opportunity to kill his oppressor, David humbled himself before Saul and submitted to the will of God.

Both David and the leprous Samaritan lived in treacherous circumstances. But God used their suffering to humble each man and bring about godly character. God’s ways are mysterious, but they are always good. When our lives take a hard turn, it is tempting to shake our fists in anger at God for allowing hardship into our lives. But we should trust that God has a purpose for our pain…to break down our self-reliance so that we might walk more closely with the Savior and mold us more into the likeness of Jesus. As we allow God to humble us through our circumstances, David’s words in Psalm 54 become our anthem…

Behold, God is my helper;
the Lord is the upholder of my life (Psalm 54:4).

Day 10: The Healer

Matthew 9

Key Verses

Matthew 9:6
But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home.

This is another chapter filled predominantly with scenes of Jesus’ healings. Which leads me to a question…

Why doesn’t Jesus heal the way He healed when He walked the earth? Have you ever tried to count how many people He healed in the gospels? He heals 6 people in this chapter alone! When you consider sweeping statements like “He went from town to town healing and teaching,” we can surmise that one of Jesus’ primary acts on earth was to heal. Why did He do it then and not now? We all have stories of people dying from cancer, struggling with a chronic illness, suffering from a disability. Why doesn’t GOD HEAL??!!!

I have an answer. It’s actually a very satisfying answer. I learned it from Nancy Guthrie, author of Hearing Jesus Speak Into Your Sorrow. The answer is found in the story of the Paralytic…

And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home. When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men (Matthew 9:2-8).

My gut reaction to this story is usually disappointment – which reveals my lack of understanding. I tend to think, “How in the world does forgiving his sins help this poor paralyzed man? I want to shout, “HEAL HIM! DON’T FORGIVE HIM!” Oh, how wrong I am…

My daughter, Anne, suffers from a severe traumatic brain injury. If God came to me and gave me a choice…  “Would you rather me heal Anne spiritually so she’ll live forever in heaven with a perfect body? Or would you rather Anne be healed physically, right now, but knowing that she wouldn’t be able to go to heaven?” Well, I would choose for Anne to be whole in heaven.

Jesus healed on earth to give us a physical representation – a word picture of sorts – of how he heals us spiritually. When we have a saving faith, we are healed for all eternity. Our current bodies are broken and temporal. Sometimes He heals us physically and sometimes He doesn’t. But really, God cares more about our eternity with Him than our ease and comfort on this earth. God knows the TRUE, BIG picture which we don’t see clearly…

Sometimes, God chooses not to heal because when we are broken physically, we are better able to see our spiritual brokenness. Jesus says in this chapter,

“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means,  …I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:12-13).

God loves the broken-hearted, and the humble in spirit. He must have seen this brokenness in Matthew – as He called him to be a disciple and chose to dine at his house (Matthew 9:9-11). Matthew, a hated tax collector, turned to Jesus as his only hope. Jesus lifted him out of his hateful, lonely lifestyle and gave him a new heart with a new purpose and hope. He does the same for me. And he does the same for my daughter, Anne. Why? He is the healer!

Day 9: The Promise Continues

Genesis 23-24; Matthew 8

Key Verses

Genesis 24:7
The Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my kindred, and who spoke to me and swore to me, ‘To your offspring I will give this land,’ he will send his angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there.”

Matthew 8:16-17
That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.”

Yesterday, we saw the small beginnings of God fulfilling His two-fold promise of legacy and land to Abraham… Isaac was born and Abraham bought a well.

In today’s reading, we see Abraham purchase a full-fledged plot of land (in Canaan, of course) that contains a cave in which to bury his wife, Sarah. We also read of the miraculous way in which God provides a wife for Isaac. Rebekah is kind-hearted and full of faith. She is a good wife for Isaac. God’s promise to make Abraham’s descendants as numerous as the stars and to give them the land of Canaan continues to unfold…

It’s fun to fast-forward in history to Matthew 8 where we see Jesus in action. Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of all of God’s promises. In this chapter, we read several stories of Jesus’ healings… First the leper, then the centurion’s servant, then Peter’s mother-in-law.

There is a scene painted in just one sentence that boggles my mind. Jesus is in the home of Peter and…

That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick (Matthew 8:16).

Can you imagine the flurry of people scampering to Jesus to be healed? I would have been one of them. I would have done anything, anything, to get my brain-injured daughter in front of Jesus. I would have bowed low and begged him to heal my daughter. I know, because I do this every day.

In the very next verse, Matthew refers back to Isaiah’s prophecy of the Servant:

Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted (Isaiah 53:4).

Just as he showed compassion to the crowds and healed their diseases, He has borne my grief and carried my sorrow. Even though He has chosen not to heal my brain-injured daughter immediately, he is still healing her – very slowly. Waiting on God builds godly character, and ultimately the healing of our souls is infinitely more important than the healing of our bodies. But we’ll talk more about that tomorrow :-)

Day 151: It’s all in the details…

2 Kings 8-10; John 9:1-41

In 1 Kings 19, God instructed Elijah to anoint Elisha as his replacement, but God also told Elijah to anoint Hazael to be king over Syria, and Jehu the son of Nimshi to be king over Israel.

Finally, in today’s reading of 2 Kings, we see these instructions fulfilled, through Elisha. And by anointing Jehu king over Israel, God uses Jehu to fulfill the prophecy He made to Ahab (through Elijah) back in 1 Kings 21…

Thus says the Lord: ‘In the place where dogs licked up the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick [Ahab’s] own blood.’

And of Jezebel the Lord also said, ‘The dogs shall eat Jezebel within the walls of Jezreel.’ Anyone belonging to Ahab who dies in the city the dogs shall eat, and anyone of his who dies in the open country the birds of the heavens shall eat. (1 Kings 21:19; 23-24).

Because of Ahab’s repentance, God relented and saved the inevitable prophesy for his son, Jehoram. We read the fulfillment in all of its gory detail in today’s passage.

The intricate, sovereignty of the Lord is displayed as he uses sinful men to carry out his holy purposes. God orchestrated every detail and every word of his prophecy came to pass… including the destruction of Baal worship in Israel. Amazing.

In today’s Old Testament reading, God’s glory is revealed in the sovereign execution of judgment. Conversely, in today’s New Testament reading, God shows his glory in the restoration of sight to a blind man.

The disciples assumed that the man’s blindness was the result of God’s judgment either for the man’s sin or his parents’ sin. But Jesus refutes the traditional thought that all suffering is brought about by God as judgment. Some suffering occurs so that God’s glory might be revealed through deliverance.

This was the case for the man born blind. God used his “light and momentary suffering” to reveal His glory through healing. Jesus also used the physical healing as a symbol for spiritual healing… insinuating to the Pharisees that they were spiritually blind because they claimed to see. “Jesus said, ‘For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.’ ” (John 9:39).

Was the glorious healing worth the years of suffering? I believe so. The suffering that the man endured primed his heart to receive the gospel. After years of suffering, he knew he needed a Savior. The eternal blessing always outweighs the temporal suffering!

God’s intricate handling of the details of our lives reveals a benevolent, powerful and sovereign God. C.S. Lewis’ allegorical depiction of Jesus as Aslan in his book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, captures both the terrifying and comforting aspects of God’s sovereignty…

“Is he—quite safe?”
[…]
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver […] “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” (-C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe)

Keeping up with the Kings

  • Judah: Rehoboam, Abijam, Asa (good), Jehoshaphat (good), Jehoram (son of Jehoshaphat), Ahaziah
  • Israel: Jeroboam, Nadab, Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Omri, Ahab, Ahaziah, Jehoram (or Joram, son of Ahab), Jehu, Jehoahaz

Day 110: A purpose for pain

1 Samuel 23-24; Psalm 54; Luke 17:1-19

Humility and Gratitude. They are the key to persevering through hardship. If we humbly consider ourselves unworthy servants, as Jesus teaches in Luke 17:7-10, we will be doubly grateful for any blessing that God gives. A perfect example of this principle is the story of the 10 lepers recorded in Luke 17:11-19. Jesus healed 10 lepers, but only one returned to thank him… and he was a Samaritan. Samaritans were traditionally despised by the Jews. Because of his humble position, the Samaritan was more grateful for Jesus’ gracious healing. Humility multiplies Gratitude.

We see these characteristics in David in today’s reading from 1 Samuel. David had a chance to kill Saul, but his reverence for God would not allow him to strike the Lord’s anointed king. If I were in David’s shoes, I would have reveled in the chance to kill Saul!  But we don’t see this prideful response in David. On the contrary, we see him humble himself before Saul and submit to the will of God.

Both David and the leprous Samaritan lived in treacherous circumstances. But God used their suffering to humble each man and bring about godly character. God’s ways are mysterious, but they are always good. When our lives take a hard turn, it is tempting to shake our fists in anger at God for allowing hardship into our lives. But we should trust that God has a purpose for our pain…to break down our self-reliance so that we might walk more closely with the Savior and to mold us more into the likeness of Jesus. As we allow God to humble us through our circumstances, David’s words in Psalm 54 become our anthem…

Behold, God is my helper;
the Lord is the upholder of my life (Psalm 54:4).

Day 10: The Healer

Matthew 9

This is another chapter filled predominantly with scenes of Jesus’ healings. Which leads me to a question…

Why doesn’t Jesus heal the way He healed when He walked the earth? Have you ever tried to count how many people He healed in the gospels? He heals 6 people in this chapter alone! When you take into account sweeping statements like “He went from town to town healing and teaching,” we can surmise that one of Jesus’ primary acts on earth was to heal. Why did He do it then and not now? We all have stories of people dying from cancer, struggling with a chronic illness, suffering from a disability. Why doesn’t GOD HEAL??!!!

I have an answer. It’s actually a very satisfying answer. I learned it from Nancy Guthrie, author of Hearing Jesus Speak Into Your Sorrow. The answer is found in the story of the Paralytic…

And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home. When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men (Matthew 9:2-8).

My gut reaction to this story is usually disappointment – which reveals my lack of understanding. I have a tendency to think, “How in the world does forgiving his sins help this poor paralyzed man? I want to shout, “HEAL HIM! DON’T FORGIVE HIM!” Oh, how wrong I am…

My daughter, Anne, suffers from a severe traumatic brain injury. If God came to me and gave me a choice…  “Would you rather me heal Anne spiritually so she’ll live forever in heaven with a perfect body? Or would you rather Anne be healed physically, right now, but knowing that she wouldn’t be able to go to heaven?” Well, I would choose for Anne to be whole in heaven.

Jesus healed on earth to give us a physical representation – a word picture of sorts – of how he heals us spiritually. When we have a saving faith, we are healed for all eternity. Our current bodies are broken and temporal. Sometimes He heals us physically and sometimes He doesn’t. But really, God cares more about our eternity with Him than our ease and comfort on this earth. God knows the TRUE, BIG picture which we don’t see clearly…

Sometimes, God chooses not to heal because when we are broken physically, we are better able to see our spiritual brokenness. Jesus says in this chapter,

“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means,  …I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:12-13).

God loves the broken-hearted, and the humble in spirit. He must have seen this brokenness in Matthew – as He called him to be a disciple and chose to dine at his house (Matthew 9:9-11). Matthew, a hated tax collector, turned to Jesus as his only hope. Jesus lifted him out of his hateful, lonely lifestyle and gave him a new heart with a new purpose and hope. He does the same for me. And he does the same for my daughter, Anne. Why? He is the healer!

Day 9: The promise continues

Genesis 23-24; Matthew 8

Yesterday, we saw the small beginnings of God fulfilling His two-fold promise of legacy and land to Abraham… Isaac is born and Abraham buys a well.

Today’s reading we see Abraham purchase a full-fledged plot of land (in Canaan, of course) that contains a cave in which to bury his wife, Sarah. We also read of the miraculous way in which God provides a wife for Issac. Rebekah is kind-hearted and full of faith. She is a good wife for Issac. God’s promise to make Abraham’s descendants as numerous as the stars and to give them the land of Canaan continues to unfold…

It’s fun to fast-forward in history to Matthew 8 where we see Jesus  in action. Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of all of God’s promises. And in this chapter we read several stories of Jesus’ healings… First the leper, then the centurion’s servant, then Peter’s mother-in-law.

And then there is a scene painted in just one sentence that boggles my mind… Jesus is in the home of Peter and

That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick (Matthew 8:16).

Can you imagine the flurry of people scampering to Jesus to be healed? I would have been one of them. I would have done anything, anything, to get my brain-injured daughter in front of Jesus. I would have bowed low and begged him to heal my daughter. I know, because I do this everyday.

The very next verse, Matthew refers back to Isaiah’s prophesy of the Servant:

Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted (Isaiah 53:4).

Just as he showed compassion to the crowds and healed their diseases… He has borne my grief and carried my sorrow. Even though He has chosen not to heal my brain-injured daughter immediately, he is still healing her – it’s just slow. Waiting on God builds godly character, and ultimately the healing of our souls is infinitely more important than the healing of our bodies. But we’ll talk more about that tomorrow :-)