Bible reading for Aug 28.
I Samuel 20.
"And Jonathan made David swear again by his love for him, for he loved him as he loved his own soul." (1 Samuel 20:17)
DAVID AND JONATHAN. In this chapter we see Jonathan make a break from unquestioned loyalty to his father, King Saul, to make a covenant with David, his closest friend (vv 14-16). Today's hyper-sexualized culture would see some kind of sexual aspect to this relationship, but in the Hebrew world for men to kiss one another's beard was a common sign of respect and honor (2 Sam 20:9; Matt 26:49; Luke 7:45). This kind of "holy kiss" was practiced in the early church, as well (e.g., Rom 16:16). What was going on was more remarkable than even strong male friendship: Jonathan, son and heir of King Saul, was giving up his right to the throne in order to serve David. Notice the words, "my house" (v 15) and "house of David" (v 16). This covenant of loyalty, or fealty, to David would cost Jonathan his power, wealth, and prestige, for his dynasty would end and he would serve the dynasty, or house, of David. This was an amazing demonstration of trust in God and faithfulness to the king that God had appointed for Israel. Unlike his father, Jonathan was a man of faith, and an amazingly faithful individual.
REFLECT. Like Jonathan, we must pledge our loyalty to our King, the Lord Jesus. Our covenant with him must take precedence even over our families (Matt 10:36-37; Luke 9:59-62). We are to honor our parents, to be sure, but our loyalty should be first and foremost to Christ and his kingdom. Are there areas where our love and loyalty to family is greater than our love and faithfulness to Christ? Can we say that we love Christ as we love our own soul?
1 Corinthians 2.
"For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." (1 Corinthians 2:2)
CHURCH DIVISIONS are nothing new. People sometimes say, "If we could just return to the early New Testament church, we'd all be united in one church." In Corinth we see that the early church had its divisions and cliques, too. Paul refers to this in the first part of his letter (1:10-16). Jesus Christ alone is Head of his church, and that should be reflected in the body of believers who gather in his name. Paul further demonstrates how the gospel divides humanity into those who see and feel the power of the cross (1:17-19) and those who do not. By "the cross" he is referring not just to the wooden instrument of death, but to Christ's death upon the cross and the fullness of its meaning for us and the world. Then as now, Christ's death did not make sense to many who heard it, or at least, it was not seen in its beauty, wisdom, or power. So in chapter two he emphasizes that this truth is why his preaching centered so much on Jesus and him crucified (2:2).
THE WISDOM OF GOD. In preaching the simplicity of the gospel Paul is relying upon the Holy Spirit to convince people (vv 1-5), just as Jesus promised (John 16:7-11; cf Acts 16:14). The gospel has power, for it saves us (1:24-25; Rom 1:16). And it displays God's wisdom, but this wisdom can be understood only when people undergo a spiritual change. A born-again Christian in Paul's terminology is a "spiritual person" (v 15). The Holy Spirit gives this person discernment to understand the things of God, so that he or she has "the mind of Christ" (vv 15-16). The Holy Spirit has given us God's word through the apostles and prophets "that we might understand the things freely given us by God" (v 12-13). This word is clearly understood only through the illumination of the same Spirit. Spiritual persons understand the things of God, but they themselves are not understood by the world (v 15). On the other hand, those not born of the Holy Spirit (John 3:3) are called "natural persons" (v 14). They are of the first creation, of Adam (Romans 5:12-21), fully human, but with limited understanding and appreciation for God's work of salvation through Christ.
REFLECT. How is your thinking different from the non-Christian world around you? Knowing the role of the Holy Spirit in opening blind eyes and softening hard hearts -- how does this affect the way you engage with those who do not yet know Christ?
Image credit. Photo of Danforth Chapel window at Florida Southern College, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson.
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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