I Kings 15

Vs. 4, “Nevertheless, for David’s sake the LORD his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem by raising up a son to succeed him and by making Jerusalem strong.”  Abijah (Solomon’s grandson) would now take a very brief tenure as king of Judah.  Unfortunately, he did not have a good fatherly figure in Rehoboam and would follow the footsteps of his father (vs. 3).  Sadly, Abijah’s mother Maacah (vs. 13), wasn’t much of a spiritual example either (vs. 13).  For David’s sake, until Asa (Abijah’s son) was ready to take over as king; God would allow David’s line to continue.  King Asa was one of the kings of Judah who is one of the better examples (vs. 9-23) and mentioned in the genealogy of Christ (Matthew 1:7-8).  However, Asa did make some mistakes regarding getting rid of all the pagan influences and an alliance with Ben Hadad of Syria.  Asa would reign 41 years and his son Jeshoshaphat would take reign in Judah (vs. 24) Meanwhile Nadab (son of Jeroboam) became king but followed his father’s ways (vs. 25-32).  It was tumultuous times for God’s people as an assassination plot succeeded when Baasha would rise up as king of Israel by killing Nadab (vs. 28, 33-34).

Regarding application…Silver Lining.  Vs. 5, “For David had done what was right in the eyes of the LORD and had not failed to keep any of the LORD’s commands all the days of his life—except in the case of Uriah the Hittite.”  While king David was the king that best fit the requirements, he was still not perfect.  We also read that king Asa wasn’t stellar in everything he did either.  Yet, we are told that David and Asa were both good kings who were committed to the Lord.  In a chapter that isn’t full of encouraging news, there is definitely a silver lining.  God can use imperfect people.  Question: What separated them from the other evil kings?  It was the intention of their heart.  Question: How is the intention of your heart?  As we are just 10 days from Christmas, we are reminded of the perfect king who was and is and is to come in King Jesus!

Judah and Israel's Kings in order

Judah and Israel’s Kings in order

Hebrews 13

Vs. 8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”  What an eloquently worded reminder of Jesus!  In our concluding chapter today, the author of Hebrews gives us some very practical applications on life (vs. 1-18).  Notice how we are reminded first of all to ensure we are loving each other (vs. 1).  Through loving, we are then able to have good standing relationships with others (vs. 2-3, 16), our marriages (vs. 4), and our leaders (vs. 7, 17-19).   In other words have good relationships, with our community, with our family, and with our church.  In a consumer society, we are reminded not to allow the love of money to corrupt our lives (vs. 5).  And most importantly, let us not forget to offer up sacrifices of praise to our Lord (vs. 15).  How wonderful music and declaring the goodness of God is for us, but more importantly honors the Lord.  And lastly, the writer of Hebrews ends with a benediction, a prayer for God’s blessings (vs. 20-26).

Regarding application…Being Content.  Vs. 5, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”  Question: Are you anxious?  Are you stressed out?  Are you worried?  The exhortation to being content is more than just about money.  Jesus will never leave you.  We have a most blessed assurance.  There were times in my early spiritual walk with the Lord that I was worried about my assurance of salvation.  What if I did something that would separate me from the love of Christ?  But there are a plethora of verses in the bible that gives us this promise that He will never leave us.  This idea of never being forsaken is taken from God’s promise to the Israelites in the desert (Deuteronomy 31:6).  In the busyness of the Christmas season, let us together remember to find contentment in the Lord!

Luke 13

Vs. 2,Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way?” First off…Merry Christmas!!!!! It’s only natural for us to look around at the injustices in the world and ask, “Why God?” (vs. 1-5).  Instead of focusing on those who died, Jesus zeros in on those who are alive (vs. 6-9).  The crippled woman is a perfect example of someone who could have easily blamed God in her circumstances, but she still faithfully went to the temple (vs. 10-17).  Jesus uses the parable of the mustard seed and yeast to address the fact that the church is growing and will continue (vs. 18-21).  Though it’s growing, we are also reminded that many will choose to reject the message of the cross (vs. 22-30).  And lastly, we see Jesus not allowing others to threaten or bully him (vs. 31-35).

Regarding application… Caring for Others.  Vs. 14, “Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”  I would like to think this doesn’t apply to me.  I think it’s more common than we realize in the church.  I recall reading about how a Pastor decided to not take a shower all week, lived like a homeless person, and then proceeded to go to his church the following Sunday.  The church was going to have his associate preach that day.  So, he carefully planned on checking the pulse of his church by how they responded to him.  He laid out by the church building, all dirty and smelly.  He wore a hoodie and let his beard grow, so no one recognized him.  He noticed how church members either purposely avoided him or heard voices speaking harshly about him.  He sauntered in during the service and sat in the back, he noticed no one greeted him.  He proceeded to walk up the aisle allowing the stench to spread as people were dreading the thought of him sitting next to them.  To their astonishment he started towards the pulpit.  Voices were audibly heard as people started muttering who does this guy think he is, interrupting our church service?  To their shock and shame, he took off his hoodie and overcoat to reveal his true identity.  Needless to say, they were ashamed of how they treated him and he preached that day on loving others!

Luke 8

Vs. 1,After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him.”  It’s important to note how Jesus and the apostles depended upon the women who would come to help support them and even travel with them (vs. 2-3).  And now we get the wonderful opportunity to hear the teachings of Christ.  In the Parable of the Sower, we are starkly reminded of the importance of hearing and doing (vs. 4-15).  The lamp on a stand instructs us to share His light to the world (vs. 16-18).  While it may seem Jesus’ response to his family was a bit harsh, it’s really a encouragement to know we are part of God’s family (vs. 19-21).  Jesus us with us in the storms (vs. 22-25), Jesus can deliver us from evil (vs. 26-39), and Jesus is our great physician (vs. 40-56).

Regarding application…Sharing Joy!  Vs. 39, “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.”  The man who had been healed from demon possession was so overjoyed he wanted to follow Jesus.  But, Jesus knew the powerful testimony this man would have upon the town he was from.  Everyone had known about this man and now that he was healed, it would bring much glory to Christ.  Sometimes we have the tendency to want to dictate how we are going to be used by God, but God always knows the best way.  We just need to trust and be obedient.  Each of us has this joy deep inside from what Jesus has brought into our lives.  Let’s go testify and share the joy this Christmas!

Ezekiel 42

Vs. 13, “Then he said to me, “The north and south rooms facing the temple courtyard are the priests’ rooms, where the priests who approach the Lord will eat the most holy offerings. There they will put the most holy offerings—the grain offerings, the sin offerings and the guilt offerings—for the place is holy.”  The Angel continues his grand tour as they look at more and more measurements.  This time we zero in on the rooms for the Priests.  There were two identical sides that housed the rooms for purposes of eating and changing of clothes.  Sounds boring, but there was definite purposes behind them.  This is where they would eat the certain foods of the sacrifice and it was to be a holy (set apart) function.  The changing rooms were used for the priests to change from their priestly garments back to regular clothing.

Regarding application…Being Humble.  Vs. 14, “Once the priests enter the holy precincts, they are not to go into the outer court until they leave behind the garments in which they minister, for these are holy. They are to put on other clothes before they go near the places that are for the people.”  Perhaps you’ve heard the saying, “Be humble, or you’ll stumble.”  In this situation, we can look none other to the example of Jesus.  As the Christmas season nears, we are reminded Jesus came as a humble baby.  Jesus could have come in his glorious transfigured self already a man, but instead, he humbled himself.  The taking off of the priestly garments and going amongst the people is a application that we too must be ready to mingle among others.  What can you do this week to be humble and share the love of Christ?  Perhaps invite a friend to church, call a loved one, give to the needy…pray that God would humble us to love others!