Day 194

How to Restore Your Relationships

Wisdom Psalm 84:1-7
New Testament Romans 1:1-17
Old Testament 2 Kings 23:1-24:7

Introduction

Hans worked his way up from being a miner to owning a number of mines. His eldest son, Martin, was very intelligent and went to university at the age of seventeen. A respectable career as a lawyer lay ahead of him. Suddenly, to his father’s dismay, he cancelled his registration for the law course and became a monk and then a priest.

Martin wanted to live a righteous life. He fasted for days and spent sleepless nights in prayer, but he was still plagued by his own unrighteousness before a righteous God. Around the age of thirty, as he was studying Romans 1:17, the penny dropped. He later wrote:

‘I began to understand that in this verse the righteousness of God is that by which the righteous man lives by the gift of God, in other words by faith; and that this sentence, “the righteousness of God is revealed”, refers to a passive righteousness, ie, that by which the merciful God justifies us by faith, as it is written, “The righteous person lives by faith.” This immediately made me feel as if I had been born again and entered through open gates to paradise itself.’

This experience occurred 500 years ago. It not only changed his life, it altered the course of human history. He became one of the pivotal figures of western civilisation, the founder of the Reformation – the seedbed for social, economic and political thought. His name, of course, was Martin Luther.

In essence, righteousness means a right relationship with God, which leads to right relationships with others. It is a gift made possible through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Here lies the secret of restored relationships – first of restored relationship with God and then all other relationships.

Wisdom

Psalm 84:1-7

For the director of music. According to gittith. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.

1 How lovely is your dwelling place,
   Lord Almighty!
2 My soul yearns, even faints,
   for the courts of the Lord;
  my heart and my flesh cry out
   for the living God.
3 Even the sparrow has found a home,
   and the swallow a nest for herself,
  where she may have her young—
   a place near your altar,
  Lord Almighty, my King and my God.
4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
   they are ever praising you.

5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
   whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
6 As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
   they make it a place of springs;
   the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
7 They go from strength to strength,
   till each appears before God in Zion.

Commentary

Enjoy the blessings

Dwelling in the presence of God is where the greatest blessings are found. This is one of mine and Pippa’s favourite psalms. We had it read at our wedding. We love it because it describes the blessings of living in a restored relationship with God.

1. Longing for God’s presence

In every human heart there is a spiritual hunger, which can only be satisfied by living in a right relationship with God. In the presence of God, the soul’s longing (v.1, MSG) is satisfied and the heart’s cry is answered. The psalmist writes, ‘How lovely is your dwelling-place, O Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God’ (vv.1–2).

2. Blessing of God’s presence

As you spend time praying, listening to God through the Bible and worshipping him, you will find that there is no place you would rather be than in his presence. ‘Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you’ (v.4).

God’s presence is a place of blessing, praise and refreshment. It is like rain on thirsty ground (v.6).

3. Strength from God’s presence

When our strength is in God (v.5), the difficult places, tough situations and the valleys of life can be turned into springs (v.6). As you draw your strength from God in these times, you will find yourself going from ‘strength to strength’ (v.7).

Having made the tabernacle and temple the place of his presence in the Old Testament, now, through Jesus Christ, God dwells and is present by his Spirit in the church (Ephesians 2:22) and in our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19).

Prayer

Thank you, Lord, for all the blessings of your presence with me. Thank you for the way in which you strengthen me daily with your presence.

New Testament

Romans 1:1-17

1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God — 2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake. 6 And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

7 To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul’s Longing to Visit Rome

8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. 9 God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you 10 in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.

11 I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— 12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.

14 I am a debtor both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome.

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed —a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

Commentary

Receive the gift

You cannot do anything to earn or deserve God’s love. You receive it as a gift. Jesus has made you righteous. Through his life, death and resurrection, you can live in a right relationship with God.

How is it that in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, world history took a new direction? How was it that the life of every man, woman and child on the planet was eternally affected?

In this ground-breaking and hugely influential document of Christian theology (written around AD 59), Paul, who had encountered the risen Jesus himself, takes the well-witnessed fact of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth and thinks through its implications.

It appears that the establishment of a Christian community in Rome had come about, not by any great evangelistic enterprise, but by the presence of Christians in the workplace discharging their ordinary secular duties. If you are in a secular job you can have as big an impact as any full-time evangelist.

Paul is longing to see his friends in Rome (v.11). They are inexperienced beginners, yet Paul has the humility to recognise that he will learn something from them in addition to them learning from him (vv.11–12). ‘You have as much to give to me as I do to you’ (v.12, MSG). I have found that in every Alpha small group, I learn as much from the guests as they do from us.

It is not only those outside of the church who need to hear the gospel. Paul is eager to preach the gospel to the Christian community in Rome (v.15).

He knows full well the temptation to be ashamed. It can be so easy to allow our fears and worries about what other people will think about us to stop us from speaking about Jesus. Yet Paul writes, ‘I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes’ (v.16a). He knows also the extraordinary power of the gospel to transform the lives of both Jews and Gentiles (v.16b).

There is no greater privilege than preaching the gospel, ‘for in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last’ (v.17a). Paul does not contrast this with the Old Testament; rather, he uses the Old Testament to support his argument: ‘as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith”’ (v.17b, see also Habakkuk 2:4).

Paul is going to say a lot more about this ‘righteousness from God’. The good news (gospel) is that God has enabled us to live in this right relationship with him. This righteousness comes from God. It is his gift to you. You cannot earn it. You receive it ‘by faith’. You no longer live under guilt and condemnation. Nothing can separate you from God’s love for you (Romans 8:1–39).

Prayer

Lord, thank you that through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, you make it possible for me to have a restored relationship with you and with others. Thank you that I cannot earn it but receive it as a gift by faith.

Old Testament

2 Kings 23:1-24:7

Josiah Renews the Covenant

23 Then the king called together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. 2 He went up to the temple of the Lord with the people of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests and the prophets—all the people from the least to the greatest. He read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant, which had been found in the temple of the Lord. 3 The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the Lord—to follow the Lord and keep his commands, statutes and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book. Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant.

4 The king ordered Hilkiah the high priest, the priests next in rank and the doorkeepers to remove from the temple of the Lord all the articles made for Baal and Asherah and all the starry hosts. He burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron Valley and took the ashes to Bethel. 5 He did away with the idolatrous priests appointed by the kings of Judah to burn incense on the high places of the towns of Judah and on those around Jerusalem—those who burned incense to Baal, to the sun and moon, to the constellations and to all the starry hosts. 6 He took the Asherah pole from the temple of the Lord to the Kidron Valley outside Jerusalem and burned it there. He ground it to powder and scattered the dust over the graves of the common people. 7 He also tore down the quarters of the male shrine prostitutes that were in the temple of the Lord, the quarters where women did weaving for Asherah.

8 Josiah brought all the priests from the towns of Judah and desecrated the high places, from Geba to Beersheba, where the priests had burned incense. He broke down the gateway at the entrance of the Gate of Joshua, the city governor, which was on the left of the city gate. 9 Although the priests of the high places did not serve at the altar of the Lord in Jerusalem, they ate unleavened bread with their fellow priests.

10 He desecrated Topheth, which was in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, so no one could use it to sacrifice their son or daughter in the fire to Molek. 11 He removed from the entrance to the temple of the Lord the horses that the kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun. They were in the court near the room of an official named Nathan-Melek. Josiah then burned the chariots dedicated to the sun.

12 He pulled down the altars the kings of Judah had erected on the roof near the upper room of Ahaz, and the altars Manasseh had built in the two courts of the temple of the Lord. He removed them from there, smashed them to pieces and threw the rubble into the Kidron Valley. 13 The king also desecrated the high places that were east of Jerusalem on the south of the Hill of Corruption—the ones Solomon king of Israel had built for Ashtoreth the vile goddess of the Sidonians, for Chemosh the vile god of Moab, and for Molek the detestable god of the people of Ammon. 14 Josiah smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles and covered the sites with human bones.

15 Even the altar at Bethel, the high place made by Jeroboam son of Nebat, who had caused Israel to sin—even that altar and high place he demolished. He burned the high place and ground it to powder, and burned the Asherah pole also. 16 Then Josiah looked around, and when he saw the tombs that were there on the hillside, he had the bones removed from them and burned on the altar to defile it, in accordance with the word of the Lord proclaimed by the man of God who foretold these things.

17 The king asked, “What is that tombstone I see?”

The people of the city said, “It marks the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and pronounced against the altar of Bethel the very things you have done to it.”

18 “Leave it alone,” he said. “Don’t let anyone disturb his bones .” So they spared his bones and those of the prophet who had come from Samaria.

19 Just as he had done at Bethel, Josiah removed all the shrines at the high places that the kings of Israel had built in the towns of Samaria and that had aroused the Lord’s anger. 20 Josiah slaughtered all the priests of those high places on the altars and burned human bones on them. Then he went back to Jerusalem.

21 The king gave this order to all the people: “Celebrate the Passover to the Lord your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.” 22 Neither in the days of the judges who led Israel nor in the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah had any such Passover been observed. 23 But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah, this Passover was celebrated to the Lord in Jerusalem.

24 Furthermore, Josiah got rid of the mediums and spiritists, the household gods, the idols and all the other detestable things seen in Judah and Jerusalem. This he did to fulfill the requirements of the law written in the book that Hilkiah the priest had discovered in the temple of the Lord. 25 Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses.

26 Nevertheless, the Lord did not turn away from the heat of his fierce anger, which burned against Judah because of all that Manasseh had done to arouse his anger. 27 So the Lord said, “I will remove Judah also from my presence as I removed Israel, and I will reject Jerusalem, the city I chose, and this temple, about which I said, ‘My Name shall be there.’”

28 As for the other events of Josiah’s reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah?

29 While Josiah was king, Pharaoh Necho king of Egypt went up to the Euphrates River to help the king of Assyria. King Josiah marched out to meet him in battle, but Necho faced him and killed him at Megiddo. 30 Josiah’s servants brought his body in a chariot from Megiddo to Jerusalem and buried him in his own tomb. And the people of the land took Jehoahaz son of Josiah and anointed him and made him king in place of his father.

Jehoahaz King of Judah

31 Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. His mother’s name was Hamutal daughter of Jeremiah; she was from Libnah. 32 He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, just as his predecessors had done. 33 Pharaoh Necho put him in chains at Riblah in the land of Hamath so that he might not reign in Jerusalem, and he imposed on Judah a levy of a hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold. 34 Pharaoh Necho made Eliakim son of Josiah king in place of his father Josiah and changed Eliakim’s name to Jehoiakim. But he took Jehoahaz and carried him off to Egypt, and there he died. 35 Jehoiakim paid Pharaoh Necho the silver and gold he demanded. In order to do so, he taxed the land and exacted the silver and gold from the people of the land according to their assessments.

Jehoiakim King of Judah

36 Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. His mother’s name was Zebidah daughter of Pedaiah; she was from Rumah. 37 And he did evil in the eyes of the Lord, just as his predecessors had done.

24 During Jehoiakim’s reign, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon invaded the land, and Jehoiakim became his vassal for three years. But then he turned against Nebuchadnezzar and rebelled. 2 The Lord sent Babylonian, Aramean, Moabite and Ammonite raiders against him to destroy Judah, in accordance with the word of the Lord proclaimed by his servants the prophets. 3 Surely these things happened to Judah according to the Lord’s command, in order to remove them from his presence because of the sins of Manasseh and all he had done, 4 including the shedding of innocent blood. For he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the Lord was not willing to forgive.

5 As for the other events of Jehoiakim’s reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? 6 Jehoiakim rested with his ancestors. And Jehoiachin his son succeeded him as king.

7 The king of Egypt did not march out from his own country again, because the king of Babylon had taken all his territory, from the Wadi of Egypt to the Euphrates River.

Commentary

Continue to obey

God had always intended that his people should live in a right relationship with him. This relationship is described in terms of a covenant. God had rescued his people from Egypt. He committed himself to them totally. He then described to them how they could stay in a right relationship with him. He gave them the commandments to guard right relationship with God and one another. The purpose of these laws was to enable them to flourish.

Again and again, we read in the Old Testament how they did not obey these laws. Disaster came as a result. Occasionally there is a glimmer of hope when they recommit themselves to the covenant relationship with God.

One such glimmer of hope appears in Josiah’s reign. ‘The king stood by the pillar and before God solemnly committed them all to the covenant: to follow God believingly and obediently; to follow his instructions, heart and soul, on what to believe and do; to put into practice the entire covenant, all that was written in the book. The people stood in affirmation; their commitment was unanimous’ (v.3, MSG).

Josiah did carry out a number of reforms (vv.1–25). Sadly, they did not seem to have a lasting impact on the people and after Josiah’s death, things went back to the way they had been before. Josiah’s life was far from easy, and ended tragically, yet he sought to follow God in all that he did – ‘with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength’ (v.25). He is remembered as one of the heroes of faith.

Thankfully, under the new covenant, the laws are written not on tablets of stone but on your heart. The moment you put your faith in Jesus all the promises of the Old Testament are fulfilled in you. You receive righteousness from God. God gives you the Holy Spirit to enable you to walk in a restored relationship with him and a restored relationship with other people.

Prayer

Lord, I turn to you today with all my heart and soul and strength. Fill me with your Spirit and help me to obey you fully.

Pippa adds

In Psalm 84:7 it says,

‘They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.’

This is an encouragement to finish well in life, to keep going and to believe the latter years can be more fruitful than the former years.

reader

App

Download The Bible with Nicky and Pippa Gumbel app for iOS or Android devices and read along each day.

reader

Email

Subscribe now to receive The Bible with Nicky and Pippa Gumbel in your inbox each morning. You’ll get one email each day.

reader

Website

Start reading today’s devotion right here on The Bible with Nicky and Pippa Gumbel website.

Read now
reader

Book

The Bible with Nicky and Pippa Gumbel Commentary is available as a book.

References

Graham Tomlin, Luther and His World, (Lion Books, 2012), p.58.

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

The Bible with Nicky and Pippa Gumbel

  • INTRODUCTION
  • WISDOM BIBLE
  • WISDOM COMMENTARY
  • NEW TESTAMENT BIBLE
  • NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY
  • OLD TESTAMENT BIBLE
  • OLD TESTAMENT COMMENTARY
  • PIPPA ADDS

This website stores data such as cookies to enable necessary site functionality and analytics. Find out more