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Day 252

How to Know and Love Jesus

Wisdom Proverbs 22:7-16
New Testament 2 Corinthians 11:1-15
Old Testament Isaiah 20:1-23:18

Introduction

Sophie is an only child. Her mother had fourteen miscarriages before she was born. Her parents adore her. She adores her parents. Sophie is now an adult, and still loves to spend as much time as possible with her parents.

She told me that when she was at school she and her fellow pupils were asked whether they thought their parents loved them more than they loved each other. Most of them replied that they thought that was the case. However, Sophie replied that she thought her parents loved each other far more, but that it was this very bond of love that made her feel so secure and so loved.

At the heart of the Christian faith is a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. To be a Christian is to know and love Christ.

What is this relationship like? The Bible describes it using human language, and human analogies. It is a relationship of the closest possible intimacy. It is like that of a parent and child (Luke 1; Romans 8). But Paul goes even further in terms of intimacy: he refers to Christ as our husband and the church as his bride (2 Corinthians 11:2; see also Ephesians 5:22–33). This is the closest, most important and most intimate relationship of all.

Wisdom

Proverbs 22:7-16

7 The rich rule over the poor,
        and the borrower is slave to the lender.

8 Whoever sows injustice reaps calamity,
        and the rod they wield in fury will be broken.

9 The generous will themselves be blessed,
        for they share their food with the poor.

10 Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife;
        quarrels and insults are ended.

11 One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace
        will have the king for a friend.

12 The eyes of the Lord keep watch over knowledge,
        but he frustrates the words of the unfaithful.

13 The sluggard says, “There’s a lion outside!
        I’ll be killed in the public square!”

14 The mouth of an adulterous woman is a deep pit;
        a man who is under the Lord’s wrath falls into it.

15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child,
        but the rod of discipline will drive it far away.

16 One who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth
        and one who gives gifts to the rich—both come to poverty.

Commentary

Enjoy friendship with the King

A Canadian-based online dating service advertises to people who are married or in a committed relationship. Its slogan is ‘Life is short. Have an affair.’ In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been adding 17,000 new members a day.

A book recently published in the UK suggests that adultery may be good for the health of marriages. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Intimate relationships require faithfulness. The Lord ‘frustrates the words of the unfaithful’ (v.12). ‘The mouth of an adulteress is a deep pit’ (v.14a). Adultery breaks the faithfulness of marriage and is therefore a ‘deep pit’.

‘Whoever loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for a friend’ (v.11). Here, the writer is referring to a human king. The combination of integrity and charm can bring people into contact with leaders of all kinds, even friendship with a king.

But, not everyone can be friends with the Royal Family. Few people know a human king. Amazingly, you are invited to be friends of the King of kings and Lord of lords: Jesus Christ.

The language used in verse 11, ‘pure heart’ and ‘gracious’, is not dissimilar to the language used in 2 Corinthians 11:3: ‘Your sincere and pure devotion to Christ’.

Friendship itself requires effort. We have to keep choosing to show love and faithfulness in our actions to maintain an intimate relationship. ‘The loafer says, “There’s a lion on the loose! If I go out I’ll be eaten alive!”’ (Proverbs 22:13, MSG). In other words, the lazy person makes far-fetched excuses as to why they do not have to get up and expend any effort.

All intimate relationships, including your relationship with Jesus, require effort and time if they are to grow and flourish. Decide today to devote time and energy to your friendship with Jesus.

Prayer

Lord, thank you that you invite me to be your friend. Help me to be pure in heart, gracious in speech, generous (v.9) and faithful.

New Testament

2 Corinthians 11:1-15

Paul and the False Apostles

11I hope you will put up with me in a little foolishness. Yes, please put up with me! 2 I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. 3 But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.

5 I do not think I am in the least inferior to those “super-apostles.” 6 I may indeed be untrained as a speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way. 7 Was it a sin for me to lower myself in order to elevate you by preaching the gospel of God to you free of charge? 8 I robbed other churches by receiving support from them so as to serve you. 9 And when I was with you and needed something, I was not a burden to anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied what I needed. I have kept myself from being a burden to you in any way, and will continue to do so. 10 As surely as the truth of Christ is in me, nobody in the regions of Achaia will stop this boasting of mine. 11 Why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!

12 And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. 13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.

Commentary

Guard your marriage to Christ

Sometimes we make life too complicated. We can make our faith too complicated. You are called to ‘simplicity that is in Christ’ (v.3, KJV). Simplicity does not mean being simplistic. It means having a ‘wholehearted and sincere and pure devotion to Christ’ (v.3, AMP).

Paul led the Corinthians to faith in Jesus. He introduced them to their husband and called them ‘the bride of Christ’. He did not want them to be led astray: ‘I promised your hand in marriage to Christ, presented you as a pure virgin to her husband... you are being lured away from the simple purity of your love for Christ’ (vv.2–3, MSG).

Children have a ‘simple purity’ about their lives. They have an uncomplicated approach to relationships. They enjoy themselves as much as possible. They are carefree and without concern. This is the kind of simplicity you need to guard in your relationship with Jesus.

Paul loved them: ‘I care about you so much – this is the passion of God burning inside me!’ (v.2, MSG). ‘It’s not that I don’t love you; God knows I do’ (v.11, MSG).

Paul was determined to preach ‘the gospel of God to [them] free of charge’ (v.7). ‘I’d die before taking your money’ (v.12, MSG). This is one of the reasons why I feel so strongly that no one should ever be charged for going on Alpha. Nor should we ask for money at the end of a course. The gospel must always be ‘free of charge’.

However, someone has to give funds to meet the expenses: ‘My needs were always supplied by the believers from Macedonia province’ (v.9, MSG). Paul was quite happy for other churches to contribute financially so that the gospel could be preached free of charge. It is not wrong to fundraise, but we should not try to raise funds from the people to whom we are preaching the gospel.

Paul is worried that ‘the bride’ is about to run away with the false teachers – teachers who are preaching a different gospel, a different Jesus in a different spirit (v.4). They, like Satan himself, are masquerading as angels of light (v.14).

This disguise makes spiritual discernment difficult, and also very important. You don’t want to be suspicious of other people’s motives, but you do need to ask for spiritual insight and wisdom.

Paul is not speaking here about other Christians who see things from a slightly different perspective, or those who have come to a different conclusion to you on secondary matters of doctrine. The people the apostle is warning against are ‘money-grubbing preachers’, ‘pseudo-apostles’, ‘lying preachers’, ‘crooked workers’, ‘sham to the core’ (vv.12–13, MSG).

This is not the equivalent of another Christian denomination or tradition. This is not Christian at all. It is ‘another Jesus’ (v.4, MSG). This is why Paul cares so passionately. To go after ‘another Jesus’ would be spiritual adultery. He is passionately concerned to guard their sincere and pure devotion as the bride of the true Jesus Christ.

Prayer

Jesus, I love you. Help me to stay close to you. Keep me loving and serving you with a wholehearted, sincere and pure devotion.

Old Testament

Isaiah 20:1-23:18

A Prophecy Against Egypt and Cush

20In the year that the supreme commander, sent by Sargon king of Assyria, came to Ashdod and attacked and captured it— 2 at that time the Lord spoke through Isaiah son of Amoz. He said to him, “Take off the sackcloth from your body and the sandals from your feet.” And he did so, going around stripped and barefoot.

3 Then the Lord said, “Just as my servant Isaiah has gone stripped and barefoot for three years, as a sign and portent against Egypt and Cush, 4 so the king of Assyria will lead away stripped and barefoot the Egyptian captives and Cushite exiles, young and old, with buttocks bared —to Egypt’s shame. 5 Those who trusted in Cush and boasted in Egypt will be dismayed and put to shame. 6 In that day the people who live on this coast will say, ‘See what has happened to those we relied on, those we fled to for help and deliverance from the king of Assyria! How then can we escape? ’”

A Prophecy Against Babylon

21A prophecy against the Desert by the Sea:

Like whirlwinds sweeping through the southland,
    an invader comes from the desert,
    from a land of terror.

2 A dire vision has been shown to me:
    The traitor betrays, the looter takes loot.
Elam, attack! Media, lay siege!
    I will bring to an end all the groaning she caused.

3 At this my body is racked with pain,
    pangs seize me, like those of a woman in labor;
I am staggered by what I hear,
    I am bewildered by what I see.
4 My heart falters,
    fear makes me tremble;
the twilight I longed for
    has become a horror to me.

5 They set the tables,
    they spread the rugs,
    they eat, they drink!
Get up, you officers,
    oil the shields!

6 This is what the Lord says to me:

“Go, post a lookout
    and have him report what he sees.
7 When he sees chariots
    with teams of horses,
riders on donkeys
    or riders on camels,
let him be alert,
    fully alert.”

8 And the lookout shouted,

“Day after day, my lord, I stand on the watchtower;
    every night I stay at my post.
9 Look, here comes a man in a chariot
    with a team of horses.
And he gives back the answer:
    ‘Babylon has fallen, has fallen!
All the images of its gods
    lie shattered on the ground!’”

10 My people who are crushed on the threshing floor,
    I tell you what I have heard
from the Lord Almighty,
    from the God of Israel.

A Prophecy Against Edom

11 A prophecy against Dumah:

Someone calls to me from Seir,
    “Watchman, what is left of the night?
    Watchman, what is left of the night?”
12 The watchman replies,
    “Morning is coming, but also the night.
If you would ask, then ask;
    and come back yet again.”

A Prophecy Against Arabia

13 A prophecy against Arabia:

You caravans of Dedanites,
    who camp in the thickets of Arabia,
    14 bring water for the thirsty;
you who live in Tema,
    bring food for the fugitives.
15 They flee from the sword,
    from the drawn sword,
from the bent bow
    and from the heat of battle.

16 This is what the Lord says to me: “Within one year, as a servant bound by contract would count it, all the splendor of Kedar will come to an end. 17 The survivors of the archers, the warriors of Kedar, will be few. ” The Lord, the God of Israel, has spoken.

A Prophecy About Jerusalem

22A prophecy against the Valley of Vision:

What troubles you now,
    that you have all gone up on the roofs,
2 you town so full of commotion,
    you city of tumult and revelry?
Your slain were not killed by the sword,
    nor did they die in battle.
3 All your leaders have fled together;
    they have been captured without using the bow.
All you who were caught were taken prisoner together,
    having fled while the enemy was still far away.
4 Therefore I said, “Turn away from me;
    let me weep bitterly.
Do not try to console me
    over the destruction of my people.”

5 The Lord, the Lord Almighty, has a day
    of tumult and trampling and terror
    in the Valley of Vision,
a day of battering down walls
    and of crying out to the mountains.
6 Elam takes up the quiver,
    with her charioteers and horses;
    Kir uncovers the shield.
7 Your choicest valleys are full of chariots,
    and horsemen are posted at the city gates.

8 The Lord stripped away the defenses of Judah,
    and you looked in that day
    to the weapons in the Palace of the Forest.
9 You saw that the walls of the City of David
    were broken through in many places;
you stored up water
    in the Lower Pool.
10 You counted the buildings in Jerusalem
    and tore down houses to strengthen the wall.
11 You built a reservoir between the two walls
    for the water of the Old Pool,
but you did not look to the One who made it,
    or have regard for the One who planned it long ago.

12 The Lord, the Lord Almighty,
    called you on that day
to weep and to wail,
    to tear out your hair and put on sackcloth.
13 But see, there is joy and revelry,
    slaughtering of cattle and killing of sheep,
    eating of meat and drinking of wine!
“Let us eat and drink,” you say,
    “for tomorrow we die!”

14 The Lord Almighty has revealed this in my hearing: “Till your dying day this sin will not be atoned for,” says the Lord, the Lord Almighty.

15 This is what the Lord, the Lord Almighty, says:

“Go, say to this steward,
    to Shebna the palace administrator:
16 What are you doing here and who gave you permission
    to cut out a grave for yourself here,
hewing your grave on the height
    and chiseling your resting place in the rock?

17 “Beware, the Lord is about to take firm hold of you
    and hurl you away, you mighty man.
18 He will roll you up tightly like a ball
    and throw you into a large country.
There you will die
    and there the chariots you were so proud of
    will become a disgrace to your master’s house.
19 I will depose you from your office,
    and you will be ousted from your position.

20 “In that day I will summon my servant, Eliakim son of Hilkiah. 21 I will clothe him with your robe and fasten your sash around him and hand your authority over to him. He will be a father to those who live in Jerusalem and to the people of Judah. 22 I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. 23 I will drive him like a peg into a firm place; he will become a seat of honor for the house of his father. 24 All the glory of his family will hang on him: its offspring and offshoots—all its lesser vessels, from the bowls to all the jars.

25 “In that day, ” declares the Lord Almighty, “the peg driven into the firm place will give way; it will be sheared off and will fall, and the load hanging on it will be cut down.” The Lord has spoken.

A Prophecy Against Tyre

23A prophecy against Tyre:

Wail, you ships of Tarshish!
    For Tyre is destroyed
    and left without house or harbor.
From the land of Cyprus
    word has come to them.

2 Be silent, you people of the island
    and you merchants of Sidon,
    whom the seafarers have enriched.
3 On the great waters
    came the grain of the Shihor;
the harvest of the Nile was the revenue of Tyre,
    and she became the marketplace of the nations.

4 Be ashamed, Sidon, and you fortress of the sea,
    for the sea has spoken:
“I have neither been in labor nor given birth;
    I have neither reared sons nor brought up daughters.”
5 When word comes to Egypt,
    they will be in anguish at the report from Tyre.

6 Cross over to Tarshish;
    wail, you people of the island.
7 Is this your city of revelry,
    the old, old city,
whose feet have taken her
    to settle in far-off lands?
8 Who planned this against Tyre,
    the bestower of crowns,
whose merchants are princes,
    whose traders are renowned in the earth?
9 The Lord Almighty planned it,
    to bring down her pride in all her splendor
    and to humble all who are renowned on the earth.

10 Till your land as they do along the Nile,
    Daughter Tarshish,
    for you no longer have a harbor.
11 The Lord has stretched out his hand over the sea
    and made its kingdoms tremble.
He has given an order concerning Phoenicia
    that her fortresses be destroyed.
12 He said, “No more of your reveling,
    Virgin Daughter Sidon, now crushed!

“Up, cross over to Cyprus;
    even there you will find no rest.”
13 Look at the land of the Babylonians,
    this people that is now of no account!
The Assyrians have made it
    a place for desert creatures;
they raised up their siege towers,
    they stripped its fortresses bare
    and turned it into a ruin.

14 Wail, you ships of Tarshish;
    your fortress is destroyed!

15 At that time Tyre will be forgotten for seventy years, the span of a king’s life. But at the end of these seventy years, it will happen to Tyre as in the song of the prostitute:

16 “Take up a harp, walk through the city,
    you forgotten prostitute;
play the harp well, sing many a song,
    so that you will be remembered.”

17 At the end of seventy years, the Lord will deal with Tyre. She will return to her lucrative prostitution and will ply her trade with all the kingdoms on the face of the earth. 18 Yet her profit and her earnings will be set apart for the Lord; they will not be stored up or hoarded. Her profits will go to those who live before the Lord, for abundant food and fine clothes.

Commentary

Fix your eyes on your Maker

God created you for an intimate relationship with him. Sadly, both the world, and sometimes even the people of God, chase after other things and fail to look to their Maker and consult him over their plans.

Isaiah announces God’s judgment on those who look to or rely on anyone or anything other than God himself (20:5). He says that Tyre, the ‘multinational broker… that controlled the world markets’ (23:3,8, MSG) would crash. God would ‘puncture the inflated reputations’ (23:9, MSG).

He prophesies against Jerusalem: ‘You looked and looked and looked, but you never looked to him who gave you this city, never once consulted the One who has long had plans for this city’ (22:11, MSG). They were looking to their own strength and not relying on the One who made the city of David, and who ultimately made them as well.

Isaiah also prophesied about Eliakim. He was a good man, as appears from the title applied to him by God ‘my servant, Eliakim’ (v.20). He is made master of the palace, a post roughly equivalent to prime minister.

God says about him: ‘I will clothe him with your robe and fasten your sash around him and hand your authority over to him. He will be a father to those who live in Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open’ (vv.21–22).

This foreshadows the ‘key’ that Jesus was to give to Peter and the disciples (Matthew 16:19; 18:18). To them he gave the keys of the kingdom but, ultimately, Jesus is the holder of all the keys. In the book of Revelation Jesus is described as the one who ‘holds the key of David. What he opens, no one can shut and what he shuts no one can open’ (Revelation 3:7).

Look to him. Consult him about your plans. Do not trust in your own strength but rather look to your maker. Fix your eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2).

Prayer

Lord, I commit to you the plans for the term ahead… Please shut the door on any that are not right. Thank you that no one can shut the door against those plans that are of you. Lord, most of all, help me to stay faithful in my intimate relationship with you as my friend, my king and my maker.

Pippa adds

Proverbs 22:12

‘The eyes of the Lord keep watch over knowledge.’

Is God in heaven keeping notes on the latest research and scientific discoveries?

Verse of the Day

Proverbs 22:9

‘The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor’
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References

The One Year® is a registered trademark of Tyndale House Publishers used by permission

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture quotations marked (AMP) taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)

Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

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