Did You Know?

Twenty-one men and no women have

been executed in the United States in 2017.

The Bible passage for meditation, prayer, and reflection for the week of July 19-25, 2015, is II Kings 18:1-7.  Why is it so important to read and study the history of Israel, including their kings?  This history, their stories recorded for us serve as a lesson.  By studying them, we can learn actions that are pleasing to the Lord.  We learn how the Israelites fell from the Lord.  And the goal is to use what we learn and keep the same thing from happening to us in our lives.

 

In the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, Hezekiah son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign.  He was twenty-five years old when he began his twenty-nine-year reign in Jerusalem. His mother was Abi daughter of Zechariah.  Hezekiah did right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that David his [forefather] had done.  He removed the high places, broke the images, cut down the Asherim, and broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until then the Israelites had burned incense to it; but he called it Nehushtan [a bronze trifle].  Hezekiah trusted in, leaned on, and was confident in the Lord, the God of Israel; so that neither after him nor before him was any one of all the kings of Judah like him.  For he clung and held fast to the Lord and ceased not to follow Him, but kept His commandments, as the Lord commanded Moses.  And the Lord was with Hezekiah; he prospered wherever he went. And he rebelled against the king of Assyria and refused to serve him.  (II Kings 18:1-7, AMP)

 

Years earlier, the people of Israel had demanded that the Lord provide them with a king, so that they could be like other nations.  After advising them against such actions, He granted their request.  Hezekiah was one of the few kings who did right in the sight of the Lord.  Listed among his favorable actions was the breaking of  the bronze serpent made by Moses.  This bronze serpent was created in order to heal those bitten by snakes (Numbers 21:4-9).  Following this event, the bronze serpent was kept as a reminder to the Israelites, but they had forgotten its meaning.  Instead, they began worshipping the bronze serpent as a god and burning incense to it.

  

Is there something in your life that once served as reminder, but has become more than it should?  We are to worship nothing - not jewelry, not a picture, not a cross - except the Lord God.  Items can serve as a reminders - perhaps wearing a cross necklace or a WWJD bracelet can serve as a reminder to keep your temper in check - but we are not worship these items.  As you meditate on, pray over, and reflect upon this week’s verse, consider with what you surround yourself during your daily activities.  Is there a false god in your midst?  

The Bible passage for meditation, prayer, and reflection for the week of July 12 - 18, 2015, is Luke 22:14-23.  In this passage, Jesus and His disciples are celebrating Passover.  Jesus, knowing that it is His last and what is to come, introduces a new tradition.

 

And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them,“I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said,“Take this, and divide it among yourselves.For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying,“This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table.For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!”And they began to question one another, which of them it could be who was going to do this.  (Luke 22:14-23, ESV)

  

Compare this passage with Leviticus 16.  Leviticus 16 describes the Day of Atonement, the day when the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies and offer a sacrifice for all the sins of Israel.  Jesus knew that His death was coming, the final Day of Atonement.  With His death no more sacrifices would be needed.  Jesus gave us a new tradition by which to remember His sacrifice.  Many refer to it as Communion.  As you meditate on, pray over, and reflect upon this week’s verse, consider the importance of the Day of Atonement for the Israelites.  Consider the importance of Communion today.  Why is it necessary to understand the importance of both traditions?  How does this knowledge affect your relationship with Christ?

The Bible passage for meditation, prayer, and reflection for the week of July 5-11, 2015, is Psalm 81:1-3.  This psalm describes a festive atmosphere!  Worship does not always have to be solomon and serious - we are encouraged to be joyful and celebrate our Lord and
Savior!  Celebrate all that He has done!

Sing aloud to God our strength; shout for joy to the God of Jacob!  Raise a song; sound the tambourine, the sweet lyre with the harp.  Blow the trumpet at the new moon, at the full moon, on our feast day. (Psalm 81:1-3, ESV)

  

This description of joy and celebration could be describing a celebration during the Feast of Tabernacles.  The Feast of Tabernacles remembers the 40 years that the Israelites spent wandering the desert after the Lord brought them out of Egypt.  If you continue reading this psalm, you will read about all the Lord did for the Israelites after bringing them out of Egypt.  During this time, the Lord cared for them, providing them with all that they needed.  Indeed!  The Lord should be celebrated!  As you meditate on, pray over, and reflect upon this week’s verse, consider your approach to the Lord.  Have you expressed your joy to Him and with Him?

The Bible passage for prayer, meditation, and reflection for the week of June 28-July 4, 2015, is Luke 17:1-4.  Jesus, once again, turns to teach His disciples and prepare them for when He will leave.  Jesus teaches His disciples two important lessons in this passage, lessons that are still applicable and important today.

 

And [Jesus] said to His disciples, “Temptations (snares, traps set to entice to sin) are sure to come, but woe to him by or through whom they come!  It would be more profitable for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were hurled into the sea than that he should cause to sin or be a snare to one of these little ones [lowly in rank or influence].  Pay attention and always be on your guard [looking out for one another]. If your brother sins (misses the mark), solemnly tell him so and reprove him, and if he repents (feels sorry for having sinned), forgive him.  And even if he sins against you seven times in a day, and turns to you seven times and says, I repent [I am sorry], you must forgive him (give up resentment and consider the offense as recalled and annulled).”  (Luke 17:1-4, AMP)

  

Have you ever sinned?  Have you ever caused someone else to sin?  Has someone ever sinned against you?  Have you forgiven them?  Sin is a part of life, but that does not mean that we have to accept it!  We should always strive to rise above temptation, rise above sin.  We should continuously strive to not lead others into sin. However, we must also realized that others share our struggle.  We must be willing to forgive others who sin against us, no matter the sin, for in God’s eyes, all sin is equal.  We are to forgive, for we cannot determine the condition of one’s heart, only God can.  As you meditate on, pray over, and reflect upon this week’s verse, consider how Jesus’s words apply to your everyday life. 

The Bible passage for meditation, prayer, and reflection for the week of June 21-27, 2015, is Proverbs 7:7b-20.  The book of Proverbs offers a variety of wisdom to all, no matter their age.  This week’s advice comes in the form of a story, a story which no doubt occurred during the time it was written.  A story that still occurs today.

 

I have perceived among the youths, a young man lacking sense, passing along the street near her corner, taking the road to her house in the twilight, in the evening, at the time of night and darkness.  And behold, the woman meets him, dressed as a prostitute, wily of heart.  She is loud and wayward; her feet do not stay at home; now in the street, now in the market, and at every corner she lies in wait.  She seizes him and kisses him, and with bold face she says to him, “I had to offer sacrifices, and today I have paid my vows; so now I have come out to meet you, to seek you eagerly, and I have found you.  I have spread my couch with coverings, colored linens from Egyptian linen; I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon.  Come, let us take our fill of love till morning; let us delight ourselves with love.  For my husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey; he took a bag of money with him; at full moon he will come home.”  (Proverbs 7:7b-20, ESV)

 

Have you observed this story taking place from your balcony?  Perhaps it was between two people you knew: two friends?  Two co-workers?  Two family members?  Have you ever been a participant in the story?  The jilted spouse?  The betrayer?  The seducer?  Unfortunately such actions are becoming all too common and acceptable!  As you meditate on, pray over, and reflect upon this week’s verse, consider your attitude towards sexual immorality.  Is it an attitude that aligns with the Lord or the world?  Are you silent against the worlds immorality, thereby showing acceptance?  What changes can you make in your daily life?

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