OT: 2 Chron. 8:11-10:19
Today, the Queen of Sheba visits and is, of course, very impressed.
We also ended Solomon's reign today, and I must say, the stubborn refusal of the chronicler to say anything negative about the kings renders his narrative somewhat disjointed. Because he quite characteristically ignores the fact that Solomon turned from God, the abrupt shattering of Rehoboam's reign comes out of nowhere. The only explanation that the chronicler can muster is, "So [Rehoboam] did not listen to the people, for this turn of events was from God, to fulfill the word the Lord had spoken to Jeroboam son of Nebat through Ahijah the Shilonite" (10:15). Without understanding Solomon's fall from grace, that explanation makes no sense. After all, didn't God repeatedly promise that if Solomon followed His ways, his lineage would last forever?
Thankfully, we have the messy Samuel/Kings to make sense of all this. Oh, the irony.
It is a good reminder, though, that the Bible is meant to be read in its full context. You can't pull out a particular verse without the chapter, or a chapter without the book, or--as today's case proves--a book without the other books. In fact, even to read the OT apart from the NT, or vice versa, would also be theologically disastrous. Context is everything.
Romans 8: 9-21
You know, I always think of Romans 8 as such a wonderful passage, and yet it really kicked me in the pants today. The very first verse of our reading started things off on an intense note: "You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ" (9). Yikes. To paraphrase, if your actions are not controlled by the Holy Spirit, then you are not a Christian.
Wow. So, what I have to ask myself is, "Are my actions controlled by the Holy Spirit?" I do feel the Spirit in my life, but I still fall so short. I hardly feel that I am under the Spirit's complete control. There is still too much of me left. I haven't learned yet how to fully die to myself on a day-by-day, minute-by-minute basis.
Verse 17 is also incredibly challenging: "Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and coheirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." Wow. Do I share in Christ's sufferings? I think not. I have a wonderful life, in fact. I am not hated, or mocked, or beaten, or really, persecuted in any way. Does that mean I am not an heir of God or a co-heir of Christ? I don't know....
As challenging as all of those verses were, I did get inspiration and comfort from verse 15, where Paul said, "For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Sprit of sonship. And by him we cry, Abba, Father." While I believe firmly that we should have a healthy fear of God (it's the beginning of wisdom, after all), I also think that it is His desire for us to have an intimate relationship with Him that is ultimately based on love, not fear. And if I am seeking Him with all of my heart, and dedicating each day of my life to Him as best I know how, I do believe that I can rest on His promises, and rest in His mercy. And I pray that He will lead me down the path to a life fully controlled by His Spirit. And if persecution lays at the end of that path, then so be it.
David continues to rejoice in God's salvation.
Today's proverb was a statement of the obvious:
"He who robs his father and drives out his mother
is a son who brings shame and disgrace."