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Today’s Reading

Devotional

ONE MIGHT WELL WONDER WHY God should be praised for loving the world (John 3:16) when Christians are forbidden to love it (1 John 2:15–17).

The world, as is habitually the case in John and 1 John, is the moral order in rebellion against God. When we are told that God loves the world, his love is to be admired because the world is so bad. God’s love is the origin of his redemptive work. While his holiness entails his wrath (John 3:36), his character as love (1 John 4:8, 16) calls into being his redemptive mission.

What God forbids in 1 John 2:15–17, however, is something quite different. God loves the world with the holy love of redemption; he forbids us to love the world with the squalid love of participation. God loves the world with the self-sacrificing love that costs the Son his life; we are not to love the world with the self-seeking love that wants to taste all the world’s sin. God loves the world with the redemptive power that so transforms individuals they no longer belong to the world; we are forbidden to love the world with the moral weakness that wishes to augment the number of worldlings by becoming full-fledged participants ourselves. God’s love for the world is to be admired for its unique combination of purity and self-sacrifice; ours incites horror and disgust for its impurity and rapacious evil.

The world that John envisages in these verses is not pretty. It is characterized by all the lusts of our sinful natures (“the cravings of sinful man,” 1 John 2:16), all the things from without that assault us and tempt us away from the living God (“the lust of the eyes,” 1 John 2:16), all the arrogance of ownership, dominance, and control (“the boasting of what he has and does,” 1 John 2:16). None of this comes from the Father but from the world.

But Christians make their evaluations in the light of eternity. “The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:17). Pity the person whose self-identity and hope rest on transient things. Ten billion years into eternity, it will seem a little daft to puff yourself up over the car you now drive, the amount of money or education you have received, the number of books you owned, the number of times you had your name in the headlines. Whether or not you have won an Academy Award will then prove less important than whether or not you have been true to your spouse. Whether or not you were a basketball star will be less significant than how much of your wealth you generously gave away. The one “who does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:17).

2 Chronicles 2

Preparing to Build the Temple

2:1 Now Solomon purposed to build a temple for the name of the LORD, and a royal palace for himself. 1 And Solomon assigned 70,000 men to bear burdens and 80,000 to quarry in the hill country, and 3,600 to oversee them. And Solomon sent word to Hiram the king of Tyre: “As you dealt with David my father and sent him cedar to build himself a house to dwell in, so deal with me. Behold, I am about to build a house for the name of the LORD my God and dedicate it to him for the burning of incense of sweet spices before him, and for the regular arrangement of the showbread, and for burnt offerings morning and evening, on the Sabbaths and the new moons and the appointed feasts of the LORD our God, as ordained forever for Israel. The house that I am to build will be great, for our God is greater than all gods. But who is able to build him a house, since heaven, even highest heaven, cannot contain him? Who am I to build a house for him, except as a place to make offerings before him? So now send me a man skilled to work in gold, silver, bronze, and iron, and in purple, crimson, and blue fabrics, trained also in engraving, to be with the skilled workers who are with me in Judah and Jerusalem, whom David my father provided. Send me also cedar, cypress, and algum timber from Lebanon, for I know that your servants know how to cut timber in Lebanon. And my servants will be with your servants, to prepare timber for me in abundance, for the house I am to build will be great and wonderful. 10 I will give for your servants, the woodsmen who cut timber, 20,000 cors2 of crushed wheat, 20,000 cors of barley, 20,000 baths3 of wine, and 20,000 baths of oil.”

11 Then Hiram the king of Tyre answered in a letter that he sent to Solomon, “Because the LORD loves his people, he has made you king over them.” 12 Hiram also said, “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, who made heaven and earth, who has given King David a wise son, who has discretion and understanding, who will build a temple for the LORD and a royal palace for himself.

13 “Now I have sent a skilled man, who has understanding, Huram-abi, 14 the son of a woman of the daughters of Dan, and his father was a man of Tyre. He is trained to work in gold, silver, bronze, iron, stone, and wood, and in purple, blue, and crimson fabrics and fine linen, and to do all sorts of engraving and execute any design that may be assigned him, with your craftsmen, the craftsmen of my lord, David your father. 15 Now therefore the wheat and barley, oil and wine, of which my lord has spoken, let him send to his servants. 16 And we will cut whatever timber you need from Lebanon and bring it to you in rafts by sea to Joppa, so that you may take it up to Jerusalem.”

17 Then Solomon counted all the resident aliens who were in the land of Israel, after the census of them that David his father had taken, and there were found 153,600. 18 Seventy thousand of them he assigned to bear burdens, 80,000 to quarry in the hill country, and 3,600 as overseers to make the people work.

Footnotes

[1] 2:1 Ch 2:1 in Hebrew
[2] 2:10 A cor was about 6 bushels or 220 liters
[3] 2:10 A bath was about 6 gallons or 22 liters

(ESV)

1 John 2

Christ Our Advocate

2:1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

The New Commandment

Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because1 the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. 10 Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him2 there is no cause for stumbling. 11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

12   I am writing to you, little children,
    because your sins are forgiven for his name's sake.
13   I am writing to you, fathers,
    because you know him who is from the beginning.
  I am writing to you, young men,
    because you have overcome the evil one.
  I write to you, children,
    because you know the Father.
14   I write to you, fathers,
    because you know him who is from the beginning.
  I write to you, young men,
    because you are strong,
    and the word of God abides in you,
    and you have overcome the evil one.

Do Not Love the World

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life3—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

Warning Concerning Antichrists

18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. 20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.4 21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. 24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that he made to us5—eternal life.

26 I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. 27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.

Children of God

28 And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. 29 If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.

Footnotes

[1] 2:8 Or that
[2] 2:10 Or it
[3] 2:16 Or pride in possessions
[4] 2:20 Some manuscripts you know everything
[5] 2:25 Some manuscripts you

(ESV)

Nahum 1

1:1 An oracle concerning Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum of Elkosh.

God's Wrath Against Nineveh

  The LORD is a jealous and avenging God;
    the LORD is avenging and wrathful;
  the LORD takes vengeance on his adversaries
    and keeps wrath for his enemies.
  The LORD is slow to anger and great in power,
    and the LORD will by no means clear the guilty.
  His way is in whirlwind and storm,
    and the clouds are the dust of his feet.
  He rebukes the sea and makes it dry;
    he dries up all the rivers;
  Bashan and Carmel wither;
    the bloom of Lebanon withers.
  The mountains quake before him;
    the hills melt;
  the earth heaves before him,
    the world and all who dwell in it.
  Who can stand before his indignation?
    Who can endure the heat of his anger?
  His wrath is poured out like fire,
    and the rocks are broken into pieces by him.
  The LORD is good,
    a stronghold in the day of trouble;
  he knows those who take refuge in him.
    But with an overflowing flood
  he will make a complete end of the adversaries,1
    and will pursue his enemies into darkness.
  What do you plot against the LORD?
    He will make a complete end;
    trouble will not rise up a second time.
10   For they are like entangled thorns,
    like drunkards as they drink;
    they are consumed like stubble fully dried.
11   From you came one
    who plotted evil against the LORD,
    a worthless counselor.
12   Thus says the LORD,
  “Though they are at full strength and many,
    they will be cut down and pass away.
  Though I have afflicted you,
    I will afflict you no more.
13   And now I will break his yoke from off you
    and will burst your bonds apart.”
14   The LORD has given commandment about you:
    “No more shall your name be perpetuated;
  from the house of your gods I will cut off
    the carved image and the metal image.
  I will make your grave, for you are vile.”
15   2 Behold, upon the mountains, the feet of him
    who brings good news,
    who publishes peace!
  Keep your feasts, O Judah;
    fulfill your vows,
  for never again shall the worthless pass through you;
    he is utterly cut off.

Footnotes

[1] 1:8 Hebrew of her place
[2] 1:15 Ch 2:1 in Hebrew

(ESV)

Luke 17

Temptations to Sin

17:1 And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin1 are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.2 Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

Increase Our Faith

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

Unworthy Servants

“Will any one of you who has a servant3 plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly,4 and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants;5 we have only done what was our duty.’”

Jesus Cleanses Ten Lepers

11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers,6 who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”7

The Coming of the Kingdom

20 Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”8

22 And he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. 23 And they will say to you, ‘Look, there!’ or ‘Look, here!’ Do not go out or follow them. 24 For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day.9 25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. 26 Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, 29 but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all—30 so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. 31 On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back. 32 Remember Lot's wife. 33 Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it. 34 I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. 35 There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left.”10 37 And they said to him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse11 is, there the vultures12 will gather.”

Footnotes

[1] 17:1 Greek Stumbling blocks
[2] 17:2 Greek stumble
[3] 17:7 Or bondservant; also verse 9
[4] 17:8 Greek gird yourself
[5] 17:10 Or bondservants
[6] 17:12 Leprosy was a term for several skin diseases; see Leviticus 13
[7] 17:19 Or has saved you
[8] 17:21 Or within you, or within your grasp
[9] 17:24 Some manuscripts omit in his day
[10] 17:35 Some manuscripts add verse 36: Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left
[11] 17:37 Greek body
[12] 17:37 Or eagles

(ESV)