Scripture Read: Hosea 1 - 3
Title: Hosea, Gomer and the Unfaitfulness of Israel
(H) Highlight verse: "When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, 'Go, take yourself a wife of whoredome and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredome by foresaking the LORD. So he went and took Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son." Hosea 1:2 - 3
(E) Explain: Hosea is a unique prophet who is given a unique call in his ministry. God tells him to marry a prostitute and have children with her as a a sign or picture of Israel's unfaithfulness to God. They have three children together. The first son is named Jezreel as a sign of punishment to the house of Jehu. The second born is a daughter named Lo-ruham which means "She has not received mercy". The third born is a son named Lo-ammi which means not my people. The children's names represents God's judgment against Israel.
Israel was unfaithful to God, yet eventually we see that God does not give up on Israel. In Chapter three God instructs Hosea to redeem his prostitute wife. Hosea continually pursued his wife, even in her unfaithfulness and this paints a beautiful picture of God continually pursuing his people, Israel even in their unfaithfulness to him.
(A) Application: God is faithful. He pursues us and shows mercy to us, even when we are walk away from him in unfaithfulness. There are so many things vying for our attention and allegiance that we can sometimes look to other people, objects or material possessions over God. When we do this, it is considered idolatry to God. God wants us to be faithful to Him. He desires that we place Him in the number one position of our lives. God wants obedience and loyalty from us. However, sometimes (often) we fall short. When we do, we many respond in guilt or rebellion. But God loves you and me so much and He will pursue us when we get off course. As we saw with Jonah and now as we see with Gomer, God will go to great lengths to get his children back to where they belong... In divine communion and fellowship with Him.
(R) Respond: May I remain faithful to you LORD. I look to no other gods nor do I pledge my true loyalty to none other than you.
Scripture Read: Jonah 3 - 4
Title: Jonah and the Great Fish (pt 2)
(H) Highlight verse: "And he prayed to the LORD and said, 'O LORD, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and mericiful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. Therefore now, O LORD, please take m life from mefor it is better for me to die than to live.'" Jonah 4:2,3
(E) Explain: When I read the final chapter I think of Jonah as a self-centered man who is acting more like a child than a prophet of God. He was witness to one of the greatest movements of God in history and he responds in displeasure and anger. Instead of rejoicing and thanking God for his wonderful mercy Jonah gets angry with God because he didn’t destroy the people of Nineveh. The account says “It displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry”. The word angry is translated “hot with anger, burning with anger or stewing in fury.” He wasn’t just mad; he was furious. The problem was he allowed this fury take root in his heart. He was furious because God was compassionate, gracious, merciful, loving and patient. The root of the problem is not because God was all of the above, but because Jonah was angry and didn’t get his way. He responds like a child by throwing a tantrum and blaming God. Nothing is more pitiful than seeing a grown adult throw a temper tantrum because he doesn’t get what he wants. Jonah had anger issues and his anger clouds the big picture and magnitude of what God had done. His anger takes the focus off of what God did and puts the focus on him and his little pity party.
(A) Application: We may sit here and criticize Jonah for being a self centered “cry baby” who throws a temper tantrum because he didn’t get his way and we would be justified in doing that. But let us not be too quick to judge or criticize. Jonah had some unhealthy anger issues, as far as we can tell, that were never resolved. Anger is a powerful and dangerous emotion which can negatively affect our relationship with God and with loved ones. If we do not deal with our anger it can lead to bitterness which leads to misery. Anger can be like a cancer slowly eating away and robbing people of joy and happiness in life. Angry people are often only focused on themselves and their problems and never take the time to be of any service to anyone else.
When I, like Jonah, don’t get my way I tend to respond in anger and pout because I didn’t get what I wanted. I walk around in misery and make life miserable for others around me. Unhealthy anger, rage, bitterness, misery are all cancerous and can destroy a person and cause anguish to loved ones around them and it even brings harm to ourselves. When you and I are too consumed with ourselves and live in anger we can miss out on the joyous life God wants us to live.
(R) Respond: God search my heart and see if I have anger, bitterness or misery issues in my life. My prayer for today is that I could have the shackles of anger dropped from my life and that I could be free to live in the joy and fellowship that God has for me.
Scripture Read: Jonah 1 - 2
Title: Jonah and the Great Fish
(H) Highlight verse: "But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went on board, to go with them to Tarshish, away from presence of the LORD." Jonah 1:3
(E) Explain: Jonah is a tale of struggles and disobedience; the struggles of giving up selfish desires and giving in to God’s call on our lives. It is about the struggle of living according to our ways verses God’s ways. Jonah is like many of us in so many ways. He was a chosen prophet who was called by God to do something that he didn’t want to do and he simply refused to do it. In other words, he was a disobedient, stubborn ole man who had no interest in leaving the comforts of his home (his bubble) and going to a city and telling them to repent... or else.
In the opening verse, Jonah is commanded by God to get up and go to Nineveh (an evil city) and give them a warning of His impending judgment. This was a problem for Jonah because he didn’t want to go. As we will soon see, he flat out refused to go. God was calling him to action… He said, “Get up Jonah, and go!” God was about to mess up his life, so to speak. Suddenly Jonah’s uneventful and ordinary life was about to change. He didn’t like this, so he did get up, but he ran away from God.
(A) Application: Running from God is pointless, but I think we can sort of understand why Jonah did. The good news is that God, in his mercy, understood why he did what he did; as I believe he understands our struggles and reservations to doing what he has called us to do. But the best part is God will always give us the tools we need to accomplish the difficult tasks he sets before us. God isn’t going to change his plan just because we refuse or rebel.
We will never know true freedom and we will never fully understand God’s plan for us unless we make the effort to get out of our bubbles and be willing to go where God calls us. Some of these places or callings may be scary, dangerous or just plain uncomfortable. But the point of this passage is are you available to God when He does call you? Are you willing to go and do for His Kingdom? Are you willing to abandoned your comfortable and safe life in exchange for following His will?
(R) Respond: LORD, may I be willing to abandoned the safety and comforts of life in exchange for following your will?
Scripture Read: 2 Kings 5; 6:1 - 23
Title: Elisha Prays to Open the Eyes of the People
(H) Highlight verse: "The Elisha prayed and said, 'O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.' So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.'" 2 Kings 6:17
(E) Explain: the King of Syria announcing that is going to ambush the Israelites at an undisclosed (to us at least) place. Somehow Elisha hears this plan and he warns the King of Israel to not pass through this undisclosed place because the Syrians were waiting to ambush them and the king listened to his warning. When the king hears this, he wants Elisha seized and sent back to him. When he finds that Elisha is in Dotham, the king assembles a massive army at night to surround his camp so they may seize him. In the morning Elisha’s attendant awakes and sees the army surrounding the city… afraid he runs to Elisha and asks what should we do?
Unconcerned Elisha responds, “do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Elisha sees that there is a supernatural army surrounding the Syrian army and he is not worried because God is on their side. The problem was the others did not see this supernatural army, they only saw the Syrians before them.
Elisha prays a twofold prayer…
(A) Application: here are three observations from this passage and apply to our lives
(R) Respond: God is present, He is at work, and He wants me to communicate with Him so that my fears may subside and I can walk in this life in assurance, faith and without fear.
Scripture Read: 2 Kings 2
Title: Elisha Succeeds Elijah
(H) Highlight verse: "'Ask what I shall do for you, before I am taken away from you.' And Elisha said, 'Please let there be a double portion of your spirit on me.'" 2 Kings 2:11
(E) Explain: Elisha, is the prophet of focus in chapters 2 – 13 of 2 Kings. He was the apprentice of the prophet Elijah who took his place when Elijah ascended to heaven in a chariot of fire. Elijah and Elisha were on their way to Gigal and Elijah tells Elisha that his time is up and Elisha asks for a double portion of Elijah’s Spirit. Elijah is thus taken into heaven by a whirlwind and the chariots of God. We will see that in tomorrows reading Elisha, was part of a group prophets who lived in a small cramped area in Israel. Elisha was the head prophet and all others were under his direction. The prophets went to Jordan to get wood to build homes.
(A) Application: In this passage we see the result of discipleship done right. Elijah was a prophet who was used by God and Elishah was his apprentice. Eiljah walked with Elisha and encouraged and mentored him. When the time came for Elijah to be taken away from the earth he asked Elisha what he should do for him before he left. Elisha asks for a double portion of the spirit. Elijah tells him that if Elisha sees the him being taken away then he will receive a double portion of his spirit. We know from this passage that Elisha witnesses this event and as a result receives a double portion of his spirit.
Elijah poured his life into Elisha. This is discipleship. He trained him, prayed with him, and showed him how to walk in the ways of God. Elijah was essentially a disciple of God who made disciples of God. He set his successor up for success so than when he was no longer around his disciple would still thrive and win others to God.
(R) Respond: Let us commit today to becoming disciples who make disciples for the Kingdom of God.
Scripture Read: 1 Kings 21; 22
Title: Micaiah the Prophet
(H) Highlight verse: "And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, 'There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the LORD, Micaiah the son of Imlah, but I hate him, for he never prophesied good concerning me, but evil.'" 1 Kings 22:8
(E) Explain: During a time of peace the king of Judah, Jehoshaphat, came and spoke with the king of Israel, Ahab, about going to war with Ramoth-gilead. Before engaging in war Jehoshaphat says they should inquire the prophets about whether they should go to war or not. They gathered about 400 prophets and they all gave the go ahead and told them the LORD was with them. Yet Jehoshaphat wasn't fully convinced and asked if there was another prophet they could ask. Ahab said there was one named Micaiah, but he doesn't like inquiring of him because he always prophesies bad news. However, they inquire of him and Micaiah tells them not to go to war, the LORD is not with them, and if they do go into war the king will be killed. The king gets mad at him and has him thrown into prison until he returns in peace. Micaiah says, "If you return in peace, the LORD has not spoken by me." As predicted King Ahab dies in battle.
(A) Application: This story holds a special place in my heart because my wife and I name our daughter after the prophet Micaiah. What I found appealing about Micaiah was that he was a prophet who wasn't particularly interested in pleasing people and declaring prophecies to make people feel good, he was a man connected to God and He listened to him and spoke the truth, no matter what. We read in the account that King Ahab didn't like Micaiah because he always prophesied bad news, but it wasn't because he was a curmudgeon it was because he spoke the truth.
This is a noble and honorable trait. Sometimes God places things on our hearts that may not be pleasant that we need to speak to either loved ones, friends or colleagues and we need to be obedient to God. There are times in my life where I know there are things I need to say and I am aware that what I say will either make the person mad at me, break a relationship or even put my career in jeopardy, but I must remain faithful to God. We are told in Bible that we must obey God and not man (Acts 5:29). This can be hard or even dangerous at times, but if God speaks to us to be the bearer of good or bad news then we must be faithful to respond to Him.
(R) Respond: Speaking the truth can be hard and sometimes dangerous. I pray that as You guide me to speak the truth that I may do so in love, knowing that sometimes speaking the truth in love can be a hard and painful thing; but it's the right thing.
Scripture Read: 1 Kings 18; 19
Title: Elijah and the Prophets of Baal
(H) Highlight verse: "How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, then follow him" 1 Kings 18:22
(E) Explain: Elijah declares to the people of Israel, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, then follow him.” He proceeds to challenge the prophets. There are 850 prophets of Baal and Asherah present.
The contest goes like this… There will be two bulls. One will be given to the prophets of Baal to sacrifice and the other will be given to Elijah. They will prepare the bulls and lay them on the wood but put no fire to it. The prophets of Baal will call upon their god and Elijah will call upon his God. The one who answers with fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice is the true God. The people agreed and thus the competition begins.
The prophets of Baal were the first to start. They begin by calling on the name of Baal. They cried out for hours. These prophets believed if they yelled louder then Baal would hear them. Nothing happened. Elijah begins mocking them by saying, “Maybe your god is asleep, or on vacation, or maybe he is in the bathroom.” The prophets went more extremes as they cried louder and cut themselves with sword and lances as was their custom. The prophets were screaming at the top of their lungs, tired and a bloody mess and still no word from their god. The irony in all this is that Baal is the sun god, so sending fire down from heaven should have been no problem whatsoever. The people lost interest and moved on.
It is now Elijah’s turn. He erects an altar that represents the twelve tribes of Israel. He places the bull on the altar. He then commands the people to drench the sacrifice with water. There was so much water the trenches around the altar were full. Elijah prays a simple but expectant prayer, “Show yourself to be the one true God, so the people will know you and turn back to you.” It was at this moment that a fire from heaven came and consumed the sacrifice, the wood and all the water. Once the people saw this they fell on their faces and worshiped God.
Concluding the contest Elijah had all the prophets seized and he killed them all. The draught was thus ended and he gathered his garment and ran away.
(A) Application: : The life of Elijah is amazing. God used this prophet in a mighty way. He brought a nation back to God, He cleansed the nation of idolatry and he commissions a prophet to go out after him to make a bigger impact on this nation. So what can we take with us today? What can we learn from Elijah and how can it apply to us today?
(R) Respond: Lord, I pray that I have the same passion and zeal for God and discipleship that Elijah did.
Scripture Read: 1 Kings 16:29-34; 17
Title: The Prophet Elijah
(H) Highlight verse: "Then the woman said to Elijah, 'Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is truth." 1 Kings 17:24
(E) Explain: Elijah was a prophet who passionately followed God. He was a man of prayer, faith and obedience. In todays passage we are introduced to Elijah as a man who displayed all three of the characteristics mentioned above. In this chapter we are introduced to Elijah as he will be "playing" a major role in the next few chapters. He passionately followed God through his life and left a legacy that shows that He was truly a man who was obedient to God.
In this account Elijah predicts a three year draught in the land of Israel. He spoke this prophecy to King Ahab and upon telling him the LORD told him to go east and hide near the brook Cherith. It was at this brook that the LORD would provide food and water for him during this draught. Once the brook dried up Elijah was told by God to go to Zarephath and meet up with a widow who would provide for him. Upon meeting this widow God provided miraculously food and water for Elijah, the widow and her son. During this time the son fell sick and died. Elijah prayed to God and the LORD brought the child back to life. After this miracle the widow acknowledged that Elijah was a man of God and one who speaks the truth.
(A) Application: : This passage is a great reminder for me in my life right now. The lesson learned in this is God always takes care of His children. The draught that Israel experienced was a result of their sin, but God still provided for those who remained faithful to him. This still applies today. I am sure that there were days when both Elijah and the widow wondered if the flower or water would run out, but it never did. Elijah and the widow had to live by faith and trust in God's provisions. This is a lesson that I am continually learning. I am thankful God continually provides for me and I pray that as he does continue to provide that my faith can be strengthened daily.
(R) Respond: LORD, help me to not be anxious about tomorrow or the day after. You have proveded for today and that is all I need. Help my faith to grow everyday as I see your faithfulness continually day after day.
Scripture Read: 1 Kings 11; 12
Title: The Demise of Solomon
(H) Highlight verse: "So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and did not follow the LORD as David his father had done." 1 Kings 11:6
(E) Explain: Unfortunately Solomon’s story doesn’t end on a positive note. God gave him great wealth and wisdom, and He blessed him in making the vision of his father’s dream a reality. However, the Bible tells us that Solomon turned away from the Lord. In I Kings 11 we see that Solomon had a weakness and his weakness was women. He loved many foreign women and he intermarried which was something the Lord explicitly had forbidden. The reason God didn’t want his people intermarrying was not because he was racist but because he is a jealous God and will take the back seat to no one. He knew these women would turn his attention from Him and Solomon would easily be swayed into following after their foreign gods. Solomon had 700 wives, princesses and 300 concubines. I am a poor mathematician but I do know that this is a lot of women. 1 Kings 11:3 says, “his wives turned his heart after other gods.” This was Solomon’s downfall.
This Lord was furious and in his loving grace and kindness warned Solomon to not follow after these foreign gods. Solomon did not heed this warning so God told him he would divide the kingdom (after he passed). Unfortunately we do not have any detailed record that shows that Solomon ever repented of his sin and went back to God. We can only speculate by reading Ecclesiastes that Solomon may have possibly come to his senses towards the end of his life. The writer exclaims throughout the book that having everything means nothing if you don’t have God. The book of Ecclesiastes closes like this, “The end of the matter, all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing whether good or evil.” This is the only hope we have that Solomon came to his senses at the end of his life.
(A) Application: : The one thing we can learn from this sad ending to the life of Solomon is that we are to keep our eyes on Jesus. There are so many things in this world vying for our attention, affection and devotion and they are all attractive and compelling. God wants us to keep our eyes on him. Whenever we allow our worship turn from God to something else displeases God. May your legacy be this, “(Insert your name) was a man/woman who loved the Lord, walked with the Lord and finished the race with the Lord.”
(R) Respond: LORD, may I always keep my eyes on you so that I may finish the race strong and leave a legacy that shows that I was a man who was completely dedicated to you.
Scripture Read: Proverbs 31
Title: The Woman of Strength
(H) Highlight verse: "Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised." Proverbs 16: 1- 3
(E) Explain: I am going to use the Jewish study Bible notes for my explanation today because I think what it has to say is excellent and helpful for us to understand what this passage is talking about.
"(This passage) now concludes with a poem describing a wise woman; praising her her energy, her economic talents; and her personal virtues. This is not one specific woman but a paragon of ideal female virtues... Contrary to a common notion of a womans status in the ancient world, this woman has considerable independence in interacting with outsiders and conducting business, even in acquiring real estate; this may reflect the reality of women in Palestine.
The poem is traditionally recited by Jewish men to their wives on Sabbath evening; before Kiddish. It is also recited at funerals of women and sometimes sun to the bride at her wedding."
(A) Application: :
I think it is important to note that this poem is not one that we hold up and expect women to uphold. In short it is not a list of how women should act, talk and live. Instead this is a poem that praises the uniqueness of women and how the many virtues that they have are ways to show a woman is blessed. When the poet writes, "An excellent wife who can find?" This is not talking about the shortage of good wives out in the world, it is a way of showing value to the wife. An excellent wife does not mean she is the poster girl perfection. It means she is a woman of valor... she has strength, influence, general competence in wealth, ethical and intellectual powers. She is devoted, thoughtful and full of purpose. The woman/wife who fears the LORD is the one who is to be lifted up.
(R) Respond: LORD, I am thankful for my wife and for her love for you. She is an inspiration to my children and to me and she is far more precious to me than jewels.
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