OT: 2 Kings 13:1-14:29
Oh my heavens! Could the kings be any more confusing? Could they not think of different names?? Not only are they using names that are frustratingly similar, they are actually repeating names now. Aram gets another Ben-Hadad, and Israel gets another Jeroboam! I am thoroughly confused, and now, thanks to the fact that the kings of Israel and Judah are now related to each other, I fear that my mind will never untangle this mess. But for my own sanity, I am going to recap the lines so far:
Oh, good--I see that there are two Ahaziah's, too. Each kingdom had their own. Wonderful.
By this point, I can barely follow the action, which mainly centers around battles between Israel and Judah, and battles with Israel and Judah's respective enemies. God's mercy and victory are mentioned as explanations for various wins and losses. The kings are described as either bad or good, but none recently are particularly bad or particularly good; they just lean one way or the other. In short, it's all pretty hard to keep straight; by this point, it's just a blur of similar names and events.
I did have a "well, look who just caught up" moment when it finally clicked with me that the source of enmity between Samaria and Jerusalem probably had to do with the fact that for many years, they were both capitals of rival kingdoms, both of which claimed to serve the same God. Yeah, I think that would provide some tension. Why did it take me so long to grasp that simple fact?
NT: Acts 18:23-19:12
In today's passage, the events seemed to center around the nature of truth. Two stories show people on journeys from one level of truth to another level of truth. First of all, we read about Apollos, "a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures" (18:24). Apollos "had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John" (25). In other words, Apollos definitely knew truth. He knew Christ; he knew the Scriptures; he had passion for God. And yet, there were deeper levels of truth for him to reach. Particularly, he didn't understand about Christian baptism. This lack of awareness prompted Priscilla and Aquila to explain "the way of God more adequately" (26). As a result, Apollos was an even more effective and powerful force in the church.
In a completely different scenario, we read about some other disciples who, like Apollos, had only received John's baptism, and who had never heard of the Holy Spirit. Paul soon educated them on that score, and they were promptly baptized and received the Spirit.
These stories reminded me that there are always deeper levels of truth to be reached. They reassured me that even though I may disagree with other Christians about doctrinal issues--and even though there most often is a "right" and a "wrong" side of those issues--those Christians and I are still part of the same family. Apollos and those disciples weren't heretics or enemies of the faith. They were just at a different point in their faith, and they continued to progress as God revealed the truth to them. We are all on journeys to understand "the way of God more adequately," and I am thankful both for the teachers who instruct us and the God who is gracious in the face of our ignorance.
These stories also emphasized to me the importance of baptism. Priscilla, Aquila, and Paul did not let the baptism issue go, even though Apollos and the disciples had good hearts. No--it was important enough to intervene and to preach about baptism. And not just any baptism: baptism to receive the Holy Spirit. As a member of the Church of Christ, these stories helped me to see yet again why we believe that baptism is so important.
This psalm sounded David-esque to me, but apparently, it wasn't from David.
Call me morbid, but I always appreciate reminders of the brevity of life and of the pointlessness of life without God. For example, verse 4 speaks of "princes" and "mortal men," saying, "When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing" (4). I always appreciate reminders that spur me to live my life to the full by giving every moment completely to God. Thoughts about our inevitable demise helps me to do that.
Proverbs 18: 2-3
Hmmm...a fool "delights in airing his own opinions" (2). I have definitely realized that I think through discussion, and if discussion is not possible, through writing my thoughts (and shooting them out into cyberspace:)). I hope that these preferences are not the same thing as airing one's own opinions. I would hope that my "opinions" in these cases are simply thoughts in progress, and that "airing" them would lead me to understanding. I guess that all comes down to my heart and my level of humility while I write and think...