Friday, June 23, 2017

June 23

2 Kings 4:18-5:27; Acts 15:1-35; Psalm 141:1-10; Proverbs 17:23

There’s a ton in today’s reading – Elisha raising the Shunammite’s child; the story of Naaman, commander of the army, who is healed from leprosy and makes a dramatic proclamation of faith; and the false teaching in Antioch from the Judeans, that you have to be circumcised in order to be saved.

But we’re also coming oh-so-close to the halfway point. On July 2, we’ll be halfway through 2017. And you know that that means? In just one week, we’ll be halfway through the Bible (more, technically, since we’ll have read all of Psalms and will begin to re-read them come July 3). That’s something to celebrate! Way to go, you! Way to go, me! Way to go, us!!

I feel led to take some time now to just pray for us, as we continue on in this journey.

Our Dearest Father,

Thank you for helping us make it halfway! Regardless of whether we’ve hit each day on time or had to skip ahead to catch up, we’ve come a long way and we’ve learned a lot about your word. And we’re so thankful – thank you for preserving this wonderful, mysterious and life-changing book. Thank you for providing us the means to have it not only in our language and in our own homes, but also the many tools we have to help us understand it better and grow more in our knowledge of you. Thank you for the people who developed the One Year Bible and all the thought and effort that went into it.

And I thank you for the people who have journeyed with us thus far on this blog, reading your word every day and pursuing ways to have it impact them more deeply. I pray you would bless them: I pray that their marriages would thrive, that their children would walk with you, that they would find success and fulfillment in their work, and that they would know their place in helping your will and your kingdom come on earth. Grant them perseverance as we come soon into the second half of the year.  Help us all to be diligent and faithful in our reading, and also grant us grace for ourselves when we just can’t keep up. Thank you that you have revealed yourself in the pages of this book; help us to know you more deeply and grow in our love for you and for others.

In Jesus’ name, amen.

- Esther McCurry

How did God speak to you in Scripture today? Click here to share your reflections on God's word or read past posts. We'd love to hear from you. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

June 22

2 Kings 3:1-47; Acts 14:8-28; Psalm 140:1-13; Proverbs 17:22

I find the exchange between Joram and Elisha so interesting. Joram, fresh out of sheep from the uprising Moabites, goes out to war with his allies, the kings of Judah and Edom. But while they are in the wilderness, they run out of water. So Jehoshaphat suggests they ask a prophet if they’re even on the right track; Joram agrees and goes to Elisha. But Elisha asks, “What have I to do with you?” (2 Ki. 3:13). Basically, Elisha is telling Joram that he owes the king of Israel nothing  - Joram is loyal to Baal (Elisha refers to him as the prophet of his mother and father), and Elisha mockingly implies that he should look to this false god for help. This forces Joram to admit that it’s really the LORD who is in charge, and because of Jehoshaphat, Elisha is willing to seek God’s wisdom on their behalf. I love that Elisha is not pulled into Joram’s schemes (but knows the truth that the kings are all wandering in the wilderness because of Joram’s own initiative not God’s direction), but that he also fulfills his role as a prophet and delivers the words of God.  And what a result! The Moabites are tricked into rushing headlong into their enemies and ultimately surrender everything but the city of Kir Hareseth.

In our Acts reading, it’s easy to read quickly along, so much so that you might even miss something like “Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead” (Acts 14:19). What?! Aren’t these the same crowds that were trying to worship and offer sacrifices to them? How fickle the crowds are! And how blandly Scripture reports the stoning of Paul. Can you even imagine being stoned to the point of death? Obviously this is very far from anything most of us have ever experienced.

But what’s really amazing is what follows – on the next day, Paul “preached the gospel” and “made many disciples” (Acts 14:21), and then we see city after city in which they preach the gospel. We read it as a list of deeds and geographical references, but what we’re really seeing is the movement of the Christian church. This is how it all began, folks. This is how the word of God eventually got to you and me. Paul and other Christians like him traveled around and spread the word. As it says at the end of our reading, “he opened a door of faith to the Gentiles” (14:27). Amazing. Truly amazing. Let’s pause today to thank God for the spread of our faith and the men and women who came before us who made that possible.

That also makes me want to pause and pray for the current missionaries, who, like Paul, are going to the ends of the earth to tell people about Jesus. What an amazing calling!

And I love how the psalm ties into that theme too: “I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted and will execute justice for the needy” (Ps. 140:12). In many of these remote places, injustice runs rampant; victims are afflicted and it can seem like no one cares. But this psalm reassures us that God sees and that he’s working for their justice. Please, Lord, may your justice come speedily to those in need!

If you have some time today and you feel like an extracurricular Three65 activity, how about contacting a missionary you or your church support? Maybe send them an encouraging email or text, just to say you’re praying for them and you believe in their work of bringing the gospel to all the peoples. Just an idea!

- Esther McCurry 

How did God speak to you in Scripture today? Click here to share your reflections on God's word or read past posts. We'd love to hear from you.