Day 182 – July 1, 2021
Scriptures: 2 Kings 13-14, Mark 12
The Sadducees, were sad, you see, because they did not believe in the resurrection.
It’s cheesy, I know, but I always remember it.
There is a peculiar story in 2 Kings, a body is tossed into the grave with Elisha, and it is resuscitated back to life. Elisha was dead, but somehow, the dead body that encountered Elisha, came back to life.
For the Sadducees to deny the resurrection they would have to deny the power of God. They look to entrap Jesus, but of course, they cannot. The Sadducees must put a certain set of parameters around the living God. Is he still alive, active, and bringing about life? OR is God cold, aloof, and dead?
For Jesus, he obviously knows the truth, and reminds them of God stating that he was the God of the living, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jesus declares, “He is the God of the living!”
God will bring the dead to life. He will do more than revive a heart and lung to pumping oxygen-soaked blood. He will give us new life in the Kingdom of God. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, God’s Spirit will course through our veins.
Late, Jesus shares that we are not far from the Kingdom when we love God and love others.
Between the renewal of all things, and now – this is what we do. Love God and Love others. The coming Kingdom can be enjoyed now. While we wait for the resurrection. While we wait for this renewal, we walk in this way, the way of love.
Day 181 – June 30, 2021
Scriptures: 2 Kings 11-12, Mark 11
“The money brought into the temple was not spent for making silver basins, wick trimmers, sprinkling bowls, trumpets or any other articles of gold or silver for the temple of the Lord; it was paid to the workers, who used it to repair the temple. They did not require an accounting from those to whom they gave the money to pay the workers, because they acted with complete honesty. The money from the guilt offerings and sin offerings was not brought into the temple of the Lord; it belonged to the priests.” (2 Kings 12:13–16, TNIV)
In the days of Joash, the ministry of the priests was corrupt. What was given for the intention of caring for the temple, never made it! The apathy of the priest is evident. Concern for God, and his ways has waned. The temple is corrupt by wickedness of the priests.
800 years later, Jesus arrives in Jerusalem under the fanfare of the people. They are celebrating him as the Messiah in the streets! In the temple, his favor suddenly turns when he calls out the corruption of the priests. Jesus looks to the f
It is still a den of robbers. Robbing worship of God.
Jesus clears the temple. It will be destroyed 40 years later, and never restored.
Because God dwells in something new. A new people, in whom his Spirit dwells. We are the temple of God.
Let’s give our hearts to him in worship!
Let all that is in you, praise the Lord.
Day 180 – June 29, 2021
Scriptures: 2 Kings 10, Mark 10
We continue our Kings reading alongside of the gospel of Mark. We see a clear juxtaposition between two types of kingdoms. The kingdoms of the world or the Kingdom of God. And as much as Israel was supposed to be a different sort of kingdom, one that stood apart from the rest of the kingdoms of the world, it really doesn’t. It’s distinguishing mark of loyalty and fealty toward the Lord God, it simply doesn’t. Because of Baal Worship and so much more, there is such blatant deviation from God’s will that it is wreaking havoc on the Israelites identity. It has lost its way.
Jesus compares the failed kingdoms of the world with a different sort of leadership and way. One built not on the wielding of power but laying the power down. The Kingdom of God is a kingdom that is rooted and established in humility, not might. Jesus, the King of that Kingdom, has come to serve, not to be served.
He offers us his life, to give us life in his kingdom.
The Kingdoms that have come before it, rise and fall through the taking of life. Setting apart new regimes by use of force. We see that all over the pages of Kings, particularly in 2 Kings 10.
But Jesus’ kingdom comes, a new regime is set in place, by absorbing the forces of evil, the darkness, and overcoming it through the cross and the light of the resurrection. Jesus overcomes. Jesus is greater.
The way up, is down, in the kingdom of God.
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
Day 179 – June 28, 2021
2 Kings 9, Mark 9
“I believe, help my unbelief.”
These are the words of a father who has reached the point of complete desperation.
Jesus filled with compassion asks the father, “How long has he been like this?” He’s delt with it since childhood.
To make matters worse, the boy constantly was harming himself, and the dad had to keep a close eye on him to keep him alive.
A father has tried absolutely everything to help his child. He must be completely exhausted. All that is left is a miracle from Jesus.
“I believe, help my unbelief.”
This becomes our prayer as we increasingly realize just how much we need forgiveness and help from Christ.
I believe, help my unbelief. Help me to know you are with me. Help me to know that you care and are guiding me through difficulty. I believe, Help me to see and experience you kingdom. Help my lackluster loyalty. Help my focus on you and your kingdom. Help my unbelief.
Day 178 – June 27, 2021
Scriptures: 2 Kings 7-8, Mark 8
The disciples take part in yet another miracle. It’s another occasion in which Jesus shows the miraculous power to feed many, with very little food. At the end of the dialogue with the disciples, Jesus has to explain himself further. After all he’s done, he says, “You still don’t understand?”
It is immediately followed by a story of Jesus taking a couple of tries at healing the man who was blind. It’s not that Jesus was incapable of healing the man the first go around. Rather, it served as an illustration of the disciples themselves struggling to see Jesus clearly.
As the next couple of chapters in Mark progress, there will be three more instances of Jesus revealing himself as the Messiah, and the disciples not understanding it.
Jesus asks the question, “Who do people say I am?” and Peter will call him the Messiah. Peter gets it, but not completely.
Jesus teaches that he will die and be raised to life.
Peter won’t have any of this, and rebukes Jesus for saying this will happen. Peter and the others think Jesus is going to go to Jerusalem and become King, he is the Messiah after all! Peter doesn’t see Jesus clearly. Yes, he knew he was the Messiah. But the Messiah wasn’t supposed to die, the Messiah is to reign and restore the Kingdom of Israel.
Peter sees Jesus the Messiah, but they don’t understand. He’s still seeing trees when it comes to seeing the Messiah well.
Eventually, the disciples will see Jesus clearly. It will be when he ascends to the throne of heaven. Then he won’t be seen physically, but the Spirit will come, and they will know, Jesus is the Messiah who reigns over heaven and earth.
Day 177 – June 26, 2021
2 Kings 6, Mark 7
Famine strikes the land, and great evil ensues. All hope is lost, “This disaster is from the Lord, why should I wait for him any longer?”
A woman cooked and ate her son. It’s one of those stories that you don’t hear about in the children’s books. This horrifying evil reminded me of a meme (posted above) I saw the other day. It makes a good point, simply.
As we consider the evil of the war and famine brought about by the rejection of God. Let’s consider Jesus, and his great healing and help to us. Jesus speaks to the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. They are concerned about what is going into the body with unwashed hands. But Jesus aptly points out, the issue is from within. It’s the evil that is already in us that comes out of us. Our anger, malice, jealousy…etc.
As we consider the evil of the world, there is good news within all the Gospel of Mark. Particularly the healing authority of Christ. We see quite vividly that one who is here is greater than Elijah and Elisha combined. Jesus, the great healer, will restore sight, speech, and life.
He can heal sight and speech, so we know he can and will heal our hearts. So that what comes from within will no longer be from a heart of stone, but a new heart, filled with the Spirit of Grace and Truth.
From that heart will come kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. What will come of it, is not questioning the Lord, but learning to trust in him.
We can look at this story and see all sorts of great evil, and blame God. Why can he allow it? But it seems like God is asking us the same question? Why have we rejected him, turned towards evil?
We need a new heart, and Jesus is offering it.
Day 176 – June 25, 2021
Scriptures: 2 Kings 5, Mark 6
Naaman, sick with leprosy pursues Elisha for healing. And when he finds out that he simply needs to wash himself 7 times in the water, it completely startles him, even to the point of anger. He leaves disappointed, “could it be that easy?”
Naaman is a man who comes to the God of Israel with a lot of baggage from other gods. Certainly, the gods of this age, demand much sacrifice and complicated incantations and sacrifices to receive good from them.
Naaman is startled to find out that the God of Israel is filled with much more grace.
He is healed, and Naaman wants to repay, to sacrifice something to show his appreciation and Elisha won’t have it.
Naaman departs a believer in the God of Israel and renounces all other gods.
At the end of our Mark reading, we see many people come to Jesus because of his grace and healing. They simply want to approach and touch him to be made well.
We complicate an awful lot when it comes to God. I assure you; it is this simple. Approach Jesus, he will give you peace, rest, and you will be well.
Day 175 – June 24, 2021
Scriptures: 2 Kings 4, Mark 5
Today’s reading is about life in the face of death.
Our Kings reading today tells the story of the Shunamite woman. She was childless, but God blesses her through Elisha and gives her a child. She asks that Elisha not be teasing her but telling her the truth.
Later, her son dies, and she goes to find Elisha, she knows only the man of God can help. “I begged you not to be teasing me about this, why give me a son, only to take him away?”
She won’t leave without Elisha. He goes with her and revives the boy miraculously back to life.
Jairus’ daughter was sick, so he pursued Jesus to heal her. On the way, Jesus heals the sick woman who reaches out and touches his cloak. Jesus restores her health. In the midst of this, Jairus’ daughter dies, they discover this when they arrive and are met with weeping and wailing of family and friends. Jesus says, “She’s not dead, she’s asleep.”
He wakes her up, brings her back to life.
The Shunamite woman, and the woman who needs healed of her sickness are desperate for help, as well as Jairus, are equally desperate – all do what we must do – pursue and draw near the man of God.
In this case, we know him as the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Draw near to him!
Day 174 – June 23, 2021
Scriptures: 2 Kings 2-3, Mark 4
Elijah is caught up into heaven in a chariot of fire. Before his departure, his protégé Elisha asks for a double portion of the Spirit of God that is with Elijah. Our Bible project video on 1 & 2 Kings shared something I never picked up on. The account of Elijah’s life in Kings shares 7 miracles. The account of Elisha’s life and ministry in Kings includes 14 miracles. He truly received a double portion of the Spirit of Yahweh.
In our Gospel of Mark reading, there is an important set of parables taught by Jesus, teaching about the kingdom. The first is a story about listening, really hearing the Word of God and heeding its counsel or message. We learn the kingdom is also like a seed that grows without knowing it and the kingdom is also like a mustard seed that starts small and grows mightily.
This teaching is capped off with yet another reminder of the authority and power of Jesus. He calms the storm, and the disciples are amazed at the power of Jesus.
We are told later in the New Testament account of Jesus and the Church, that this kingdom is growing just as Jesus said it would. The seed would be planted dead in the ground. Jesus would be killed at the cross, buried in the tomb, and raised from the dead. The Spirit of God awakens Jesus to new life and now Jesus extends this to all of creation offering new life in the Kingdom of God.
Will you have ears to hear this? The Kingdom is here, and you may have new life in Christ because of it. He offers you the Spirit of the Lord, and not just a portion. Paul teaches us that the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, is alive in you Christian. Where the Spirit is, so is new life.
For those who are in Christ Jesus, the old is gone and the new is here!
Day 173 – June 22, 2021
Scriptures: 1 Kings 22, 2 Kings 1, Mark 3
“And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”” (Mark 3:33–35, ESV)
Jehoshaphat instructs Ahab to seek counsel from the Lord. What is the will of God?
Micaiah was in the habit of telling the truth. And that was not appreciated!
Ahab liked hearing whatever it was that he wanted to hear. The prophets were not giving a word from the Lord, rather, simply giving good news to the king. There’s no reason to adjust your life according to God if the prophets never instruct you in the way of the Truth.
Of course, Micaiah tells the truth, and Ahab can’t avoid it. Ahab dies in battle just as Micaiah said it would happen.
Jesus in a precious moment reimagines family. His family is arriving and the disciples let them know of presence. He redirects this to teach them that his family is made up of those who do the will of the Father.
As Disciples are to seek the counsel of the Lord. That’s what distinguishes us from our biological family, from our community and culture. We align our hopes and desires, our Will is conformed to the Will of God. We seek his counsel, and heed it. We pray and seek that the Lord’s Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.
Seek the heart of the Lord.
Jordan Ickes, Minister of Etna Green Church of Christ.