Christianity 201

July 20, 2020

Incomplete Devotion

Today we’re introducing a source which is new to us, Meanderings of a Minister by Pastor Jack Jacob. (I tried to learn more, but couldn’t 100% map his name to a church site which mentioned the blog.) There are some great articles here which fit in well with what we do here, though we only repeat authors every six months. I hope you’ll click through to his site and read one or two more. Click the header below to send Jack some traffic and encouragement and read the article there.

Not Complete

The Lord said to Jehu, “Because you have done well in executing what is right in My eyes, and have done to the house of Ahab according to all that was in My heart, your sons of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.” But Jehu was not careful to walk in the law of the Lord, the God of Israel, with all his heart; he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam, which he made Israel sin. (2 Kings 10:30–31, NASB95)

Many people do not know the name, Jehu.  Jehu was king in Israel and was used of God to do some disturbing and amazing things.  Years prior, God had told King Ahab that his sins would cause his family to be decimated and he would no longer have a male descendant to be on the throne after him.  Ahab had repented and God said He would relent until the life of Ahab’s son.  Jehu carried out that punishment.

Jehu went even further in carrying out God’s plans for revival of true worship by destroying idols, tearing down shrines to other gods, and killing those who were leading Israel to worship other gods.  He went throughout the land leading a revival.  He even got a young man to go with him to witness the purifying of religion in Israel.  In 2 Kings 10:30-31, God told Jehu that he had done well in executing the justice and judgment of God on Ahab and in leading the people to do right in their worship and individual lives.

With all the good and big things Jehu did for God, 2 Kings 10:31 tells us that he was not careful to walk in the Law of the Lord, the God if Israel, “with all his heart.”  In other words, while he had been faithful in the public, external, or “big” things, he was not careful to let that be translated into devotion with his heart.  He had failed to follow God in his own personal devotion to God and in the consistency of his walk with God.  How could this be?

When Solomon died, Rehoboam became king of Israel.  When he failed to use wisdom, and in accordance with God’s warning to Solomon, the kingdom split in two with ten tribes following Jeroboam and retaining the name of Israel.  The remaining two tribes remained loyal to the house of David and became Judah.  Jerusalem was in Judah.  That would mean for those who had sided with Jeroboam, they would have to travel to Jerusalem to worship to obey the Law.  Jeroboam did not want this to happen probably from fear of losing control of them or a desire on the side of the people to reunify after a while, so he had two golden calves built and placed them in the cities of Bethel and Dan.  He told Israel that these idols were the god that had delivered them from Egypt and insisted they worship the idols instead of going to Jerusalem to worship at the Temple where God had told them to go.

As good as Jehu had done on the bigger, more public issues, he had allowed this to continue and was inconsistent in the reforms he had instituted.  God’s evaluation is in 2 Kings 10:31.  He had done great in the bigger things, but not in his heart or the things of personal devotion.

If we are not careful, we will be tempted follow the same pattern.  We will do well in the larger, public issues like teaching our Sunday School classes, singing in the choir, or serving as a deacon and miss out on consistency in our private devotion to God.  We do not have to be hypocrites for this to settle into our lives.  Sometimes, it is just a matter of losing focus and beginning to be drawn into habits or patterns of behavior that are less consistent than the full devotion God deserves from us.

What “gods” have crept into your heart, your home, your habits, your health, or other areas that are not as consistent as your church attendance, giving, or service?  Let’s pray God will work in us to make us complete and filled up with Him and His Holy Spirit.

Unrelated: Earlier today our parent blog, Thinking Out Loud posted an article about the Bible translation used by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the New World Translation. Although the article was a somewhat superficial look at the translation, and not their doctrine, some of you may be interested in reading it and comparing the wording of popular verses. If so, click this link.

February 26, 2014

Help, I Need Somebody

Syd Hielema is Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Campus Chaplain at Redeemer University College, located in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. He was gracious to send us a copy of this devotional after it appeared in the campus newspaper.

Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him (Acts 8: 30-31).

Help! I need somebody,
Help! Not just anybody,
Help! You know I need someone,
(“Help!,” Lennon/McCartney).

We live in a self-help culture. Our definition of adulthood includes navigating our way through life’s challenges on our own, independently. If we run stuck, we have bookstores overflowing with self-help books and, of course, that greatest self-help guru of all time: Google (or one of its many spin-offs). If I was given a dollar for every person who walked into the chaplain’s office and said, “I never expected to need any help, but I’ve hit a wall and I need to talk…,” I could retire to Mexico by now (well, almost…).

The assumption is that if we can’t figure things out on our own, there’s something wrong with us.

In the Kingdom of God, the reality is exactly the opposite: if we think we can figure everything out on our own, there’s a lot wrong with us. The very first comment that the Lord God made about us as he observed us in that wondrous Garden of Eden was, “it is not good for the man to be alone; I will make a helper suitable for him” (Gen. 2: 18).

Syd Hielema - DevotionalDid you catch that? In a perfect world, before the fall into sin, we were created in such a way that we needed help! And that need is only multiplied now that we walk with our Lord in a fallen world that he has redeemed. That’s why Paul writes, “The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you” (I Cor. 12: 21). The community that is led by the Holy Spirit is an interdependent body in which every single one of us needs the others.

This need for help applies to every dimension of our lives (in different ways at different times), but it always applies to our devotional life. We easily assume that praying and reading Scripture are just simple activities that anybody can do, and then we beat ourselves up because we discover that our devotional life isn’t going that well (sound familiar?). That’s why in November we chaplains sent out “30 ways to pray” and this month we’re doing the same with reading Scripture.

Do you desire to strengthen your own reading of Scripture? Do you recognize that you need help to do this?

Because we all need a little help.

Syd then provided us with a detailed, annotated list of devotional resources in print he recommends to the students at Redeemer, which follows this paragraph. (If it’s not visible, clicking the “more” tab below will take you there.) Some of these may not be available where you live and I know one is possibly out-of-print, but I wanted to include it here in full so that you can see that breadth of materials available, and this list is hardly exhaustive. I’m surprised that in four years of recommending devotional materials we’ve never done a list like this, but today makes up for it!  Be sure to click through. Comments and additional recommendations are welcome.