Fear That

Daily Scripture readings for November, set #17:

2 Kings, chapters 8-9
Psalm 119:129-136
Luke 5:17-26
Philippians 2:1-11

The “fear of the Lord” has many shapes throughout Scripture, but one of them is surely the reckoning that takes place in 2 Kings 9. The wickedness of Jezebel is dealt with, and the punishment is severe. “In the territory of Jezreel the dogs shall eat the flesh of Jezebel, and the corpse of Jezebel shall be as dung on the face of the field in the territory of Jezreel, so that no one can say, This is Jezebel” (vs 36-37). Wow. Fear that.

Consider the implication of Psalm 119, verse 133: “Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me.” Iniquity, therefore, could have DOMINION over me (or you), unless the Lord prevents it. Take a minute and think about what that would look like. What would be the signs and characteristic behaviors of a person over whom sin had DOMINION? “Dominion” is a scary word in this context.

“And when he saw their faith, he said, ‘Man, your sins are forgiven you'” (Lk 5:20). It is by FAITH that the righteousness from God is revealed (see Rom 1:17).

I’ve had Philippians 1:3 memorized since I was a child, but it is still one of the most difficult things for me to actually do. “Do nothing from rivalry or vain conceit, but in humility count others more significant than you.”

Daily Scripture readings for November, set #18:

2 Kings, chapters 10-11
Psalm 119:137-144
Luke 5:27-32
Philippians 2:12-18

The butt-kicking that Jehu doles out to the house of Ahab and the prophets of Baal is marred only by his failure to then walk rightly before the Lord for the remainder of his life: “But Jehu was not careful to walk in the law of the Lord the God of Israel with all his heart. He did not turn from the sins of Jeroboam, which he made Israel to sin” (2Kings 10:31). Jehu’s story in this regard reminds me of Paul’s wise words: “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1Cor 1:27).

“Your testimonies are righteous forever; give me understanding that I may live” (Psalm 119:144). This verse makes clear that the law of God is righteous, though Romans makes clear that the law does not produce righteousness (see Rom 8:3).

The comment I just made about the law and righteousness is precisely what the Pharisees did not understand, thinking that their mere possession of a righteous law made them righteous. Jesus takes aim at their flawed thinking with his signature sly sarcasm: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Lk 5:32).

“For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil 2:13). God does the working. It is BOTH in and through us. And, it is for his pleasure, not ours… though the two are not mutually exclusive.

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