2 Kings 7; 1 Timothy 4; Daniel 11; Psalms 119:25-48
In 1 Timothy 4: 6-9, Paul is urging Timothy earnestly to be "constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following." These are excellent words for us as well and he continues with this thought: "discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come."
As I read that I couldn't help but think of recent discussions with a special group of ladies. How often we see our lists of things that need to get done and focus on those tasks rather than sitting and reflecting on God's Word-Mary and Martha immediately come to mind, the inspiration for the name of my blog. I have met a lot of Martha's in my time here on earth while I myself am more of a Mary which leads to guilty feelings all its own about how much I leave undone and wonder if using Jesus words to Martha that Mary had chosen the better thing is just my way of excusing laziness. (Luke 10: 38-42) All of these thoughts beg the question for which Paul has a clear answer--what is my labor for? For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.
Then I moved on to read Daniel. The angel is telling him what will come at the end of time. For the first time I noticed a little section about what will happen to those who believe-no wonder Daniel was in mourning for three weeks as he waited for God to give him understanding. It is a good thing to have Paul's words to Timothy in mind as we read what is coming to those who believe. "but the people who know their God will display strength and take action. Those who have insight among the people will give understanding to the many; yet they will fall by sword and by flame, by captivity and by plunder for many days. Now when they fall they will be granted a little help, and many will join with them in hypocrisy. Some of those who have insight will fall, in order to refine, purge and make them pure until the end time; because it is still to come at the appointed time." -Daniel 11:32-35
I have heard far too many times that Christianity is a crutch for the weak, a tool of weaklings I am admittedly very weak on my own, Christianity does indeed seem very foolish to those who are not believers. The believers that Timothy was ministering to, the believers that Paul wrote his many letters to, shared one thing that we today seem to give little thought to in our day to day lives-Jesus Christ is coming back-we do not know the day or the hour but it has been appointed by God. And in Daniel we get the sense that there will be believers who fall by sword, by flame, by captivity, and by plunder for many days-yet they will be granted "a little help." I sure hope that "little help" is a God sized little! But when those times come, when we feel even in these days that God has perhaps forsaken us the final verse quoted there brings hope-some fall in order to refine, purge and make them them pure until the end time. People like Daniel perhaps and his three compatriots (remember the fiery furnace?) I can attest to the hardships in my life acting to refine, purge and make me pure-it would be great if I could learn on an easy path, but whatever road God sends me down I will be thankful, faithful and true to my calling as a servant of Jesus Christ.
And so I pursue with a passion God's Word. Psalm 119 is one of my favorites for it's focus on this idea and so I like the Psalmist cry:
Revive me according to Your word.
Teach me Your statutes.
Make me understand the way of Your precepts,
So I will meditate on Your wonders.
Strengthen me according to Your word.
Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes,
And I shall observe it to the end.
Give me understanding, that I may observe Your law
And keep it with all my heart.
Make me walk in the path of Your commandments,
For I delight in it.
Incline my heart to Your testimonies
Establish Your word to Your servant,
As that which produces reverence for You.
May Your lovingkindnesses also come to me, O Lord,
Your salvation according to Your word;
So I will have an answer for him who reproaches me,
For I trust in Your word.
And do not take the word of truth utterly out of my mouth,
For I wait for Your ordinances.
So I will keep Your law continually,
Forever and ever.
And I will walk at liberty,
For I seek Your precepts.
I shall delight in Your commandments,
Which I love.
And I shall lift up my hands to Your commandments,
Which I love;
And I will meditate on Your statutes.
-A selection of verses from today's reading in Palm 119: 25-48
Grace, Peace, and Mercy!