Wednesday, March 21, 2018

God is worthy of our Best

Read 2 Chronicles 3-5.

The location of the Temple was Mount Moriah.  This is one of the most sacred spots on earth.  It was the very spot that David purchased from Ornan in 1 Chronicles 21 and worshiped there.  A thousand years before, Abraham walked up this same mount to sacrifice Isaac in Genesis 22.

Today, it is known as the Temple Mount where the Moslem Dome of the Rock stands.  When Israel constructs its future Temple, according to Biblical prophecy, it will be on this site (Daniel 9, Revelation 11).  Obviously, some major events will need to take place first in order for the Jews to regain the use of that property.

The details of the construction and items inside were nothing short of magnificent.   It was ornate with carved woodwork.  The pure gold coverings and burnished bronze furnishings made it glisten.  Expensive?  Yes.  Opulent?  Yes. Many would consider this unnecessary and a waste of money that could have been better used to meet other needs.  But keep in mind that God gave King David these instructions.  God provided the resources to complete what He had ordered.  In chapter 2, Solomon stated that the Temple would be great because God is greater that all gods.  They worshiped the LORD with the best because He is worthy.

When the Ark was in place, the musicians began to praise the LORD: "For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever."  At that, God filled the place with His visible presence and stopped the service!

Questions for all of us:
1. Do we worship God and live for Him with a "just enough to get by" attitude?  Or, do we worship and live for Him with the best we have to offer?

2. When was the last time the presence of God was so strong you had to stop what you were doing and enjoy the moment?

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Two Penetrating Questions about Worship

Read 2 Chronicles 2.

Solomon took up the passion of his father, David, to build the Temple.  He also wanted to construct palace for himself.  Immediately, the new king employed 153,600 men to go to work on the projects.

He had the plans.  He had the vision.  He had some resources.  But he lacked some needed materials, especially the high quality cedar wood found just to the north.  Those belonged to his neighbor, the king of Tyre.  So, Solomon reached out to Hiram for a construction partnership.

Not only was the task great, but the building was to be great.  Why? Because "our God is greater than all gods."  Solomon wanted the architecture to reflect the greatness of God.

Then, he asked two questions:
1. Who is able?
How can any building do justice to the greatness of God?  Who is able to design and construct such a place?  God cannot be contained in a man-made building.  In truth, the most beautiful worship facility in the world is only a box for human gathering space.  No structure can house the God of heaven.  Our best efforts are inadequate.

What makes such a gathering space a center of worship is what takes place within it and, more importantly, within the hearts of the people who participate.  As David wrote in Psalm 22:3, "Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel."  It is a picture of the LORD enjoying the worship of His people and filling that space with His presence.

2. Who am I?
How humbling it is when the creation compares itself to the Creator!  We have nothing to offer except what God has given to us.  What we bring in worship to Him is a heart of love, a life of obedience, and a song of praise.  And, that is not limited to a building.

"Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name."  Hebrews 13:15 

Friday, March 16, 2018

Qualifications for answered Prayer

Read 2 Chronicles 1.

Solomon had settled in as king of Israel and already God had made him great.

Though many other events surely took place prior to this, the first recorded act of the new king was to worship God.  He left for Gibeon, the location of the Tabernacle at this time.  Out of his wealth, Solomon offered 1,000 burnt offerings on the bronze altar.

Solomon’s heart of worship and acts of giving so pleased the LORD that He personally appeared to the king.  God offered in response to give to Solomon whatever he wished.  The most pressing burden on the king's heart was to lead God's people well.  He prayed for wisdom and knowledge.

Again, Solomon's heart and expressions so pleased the LORD that He granted him his requests.  Then, God gave the king what he did not ask for-wealth, possessions and honor.

What was it about Solomon that pleased the LORD and brought about such results?
1. He made the worship of God was a priority.
2. He gave generously as a major part of his worship.
3. He acknowledged that his responsibilities and everything else had been given to him by the LORD.
4. He cared about meeting the needs of those around him first and foremost.

As a result of this kind of heart and obedience toward God, he experienced a personal encounter with the LORD Himself, received the answer to his prayer, and much more.

"Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full." (John 16:24b)

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Checking our motives and Integrity

Read 1 Chronicles 29.

David never worshiped in, nor even saw, the Temple he had dreamed about and longed to build.  He did the next best thing.  He made sure that the generations that followed would have a place where God's name would be honored and people could come to make their lives right with Him.

Before all the people the king stood to finish the needed preparation work.
1. He reminded the people of the motive of building this Temple.  It was not going to be a monument to David.  It was for the Lord God.

2. He stood with integrity and spoke of his own financial commitment.  A true leader never asks the people do something they are not willing to do.

3. He modeled generosity in announcing that now he would give "over and above" or "in addition to" all that he had already given.  All projects in the Bible were funded with generosity giving, not with tithe money.

His charge to everyone else was a spiritual one, not financial.  "Who then will offer willingly, consecrating himself today to the LORD?" (v.5)  The first lesson of stewardship is that God is the Owner of everything.  If I give myself to God, then giving generously is simply being a faithful steward.

The leaders went first.  That's what leaders do.  When the people heard David and saw their leaders give willingly and wholeheartedly they followed.  Many have commented that this was the largest offering in history.

Don't miss David's response of thanksgiving.  It is one of the finest prayers in the Bible.
"Oh, LORD our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own." (v.16)

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

6 timeless principles for every Leader

Read 1 Chronicles 28.

Once the organization was in place and the leaders had been appointed, King David called for a meeting with his community of leaders.  The purpose was to cast vision for the succession plan and what that would mean in regards to the Temple construction.  The building preparations he mentions in verse 2 are found in verses 11-19.

Being the great leader he was David provides us with six timeless leadership insights.

1. He had it in his heart.  He could no longer stand the fact that God was being worshiped in a tent.  He dreamed of a beautiful, world-class, permanent facility worthy of the living God.  All great plans begin in the heart of a leader.
2. He made the preparations.  Such a massive project would have never happened without all the materials, manpower and money being organized and ready for use.  No great plan was every achieved without prepared resources.

3. He delegated the responsibility.  It is always difficult to let go of one's personal dreams and entrust them to someone else.  Egotistical leaders selfishly cannot let go.  Insecure leaders fearfully will not do it.  A secure leader who understands God's bigger picture will.

4. He communicated the transition publicly.  Everyone in the larger organization heard firsthand what was happening and who would be leading.  Honest and transparent communications build trust. 

5. He reminded everyone why they were doing it.  In obeying the Lord, not only would there be an immediate benefit of enjoying the blessing of the land, but they would establish the worship of God for future generations (v.8).  They would be leaving a spiritual legacy.

6. He charged the next leader directly and spiritually.
"...know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought.  If you seek him, he will be found by you." (v.9)
"He will not leave you or forsake you." (v.20b)

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Let's Go to Work

Read 1 Chronicles 23-27.

King David organized the ministry.  First, he charged 38,000 Levites with specific assignments to care for worshiping God.  Imagine 4,000 of them were assigned as musicians to praise the LORD!  With the Temple being built in Jerusalem, worship of God would have a permanent home.  There would be no more need to move the Tabernacle around as had been done for 500 years.

The priests received their appointments to serve.  Next, the musicians were "set apart" to take care of writing, singing and playing instruments.  Asaph's family, among others, served as music directors.  The book of Psalms contains some of his songs.  288 had been exceptionally trained and skilled in music.  Gatekeepers for the Temple, those with financial responsibilities, and others were given specific oversight of the house of the LORD.

Then, David organized the military into 12 divisions of 24,000 each.  In addition, each of the 12 family tribes was maintained and leadership appointed for each one.  The king's own affairs required those to be in charge.  He appointed what we would call Secretaries of Treasury, Agriculture, etc., along with personal, trusted advisers.

No one can do an influential work alone.  The bigger the job, the more people will be needed to accomplish the tasks. 

One of the key purposes of the church is organize itself and put everyone in the congregation to work.  It is an employment agency for God.  Church was never meant to be a spectator sport.

The Apostle Paul stated that God gave each of us spiritual gifts to serve the LORD and leadership in the church "to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ." (Ephesians 4:12)

Monday, March 12, 2018

5 Things for a Christian parent to Communicate

Read 1 Chronicles 22.

It was in David's heart to build a magnificent Temple for God.  But God made it clear that Solomon would be the one to oversee the construction.  Solomon was young and inexperienced.  So, David took care of the needed preparations.

He set in motion all the preparations of needed materials, manpower, and money.  More importantly, he prepared Solomon for the necessary leadership.

David's counsel to his son:
  1. He was not a biological accident.  He was there at that time by the will of God.

  1. God had a plan for his life that only he could fulfill.  It was his destiny.  That future included a personal, family relationship with God.

  1. He would need "discretion and understanding" in order to obey God's word.  Indeed, this was Solomon’s request of the LORD in 1 Kings 3.

  1. He would prosper as a result of obedience to the LORD.

5. Therefore, he would have no need to neither fear nor be discouraged.  Indeed, he could be strong and courageous.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Worship and giving are Inseparable

Read 1 Chronicles 21.

King David ordered a national census.  There was nothing inherently wrong in conducting a census.  Counting the people had been done before and since this time.  We are not told what David's motive was, but it appears to be some point of pride and reliance on Israel's military strength, rather than God.  Here, Satan incited David to do this.  In the parallel passage of 2 Samuel 24 it was the anger of the LORD that prompted this in order to punish the nation.  Commentators see no conflict and compare it to the book of Job.  The LORD allowed Satan to have limited influence to ultimately accomplish God's purposes.

Guilt overcame David when he realized his sin.  The LORD responded by sending the Prophet Gad.  Interestingly, the king was given a choice of three judgments lasting three years, three months or three days.  The king decided to leave the judgment with God, "for his mercy is very great" (v.13).

In a very dramatic description, the angel of the LORD (most likely a preincarnate appearance of Christ) with a sword unsheathed exercised punishment upon the nation.  Over a three day period, 70,000 men died.  Then, God said, "It is enough."  David and his inner circle of leaders were allowed to see this angel.  He was hovering over a place belonging to Ornan.

From God to the angel to Gad the message came to David to build an altar of worship on that site.  When Ornan and his family saw the king with his entourage coming his way, the family hid in fear but Ornan bowed in respect.  David asked for the threshing floor at full price.  Ornan countered and offered to give everything to the king.  Note the great sacrificial offer of Ornan.  This was his livelihood-his threshing floor for the place of worship, his oxen for the sacrifice, his wood sledges for the fire.

In the 2 Samuel account we have that wonderful quote from David in response to Ornan, "I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God that cost me nothing."  True worship of the LORD and giving that costs us something are inseparable.  Worship is a participatory action.  We humble ourselves, we sing, we pray, we give, we listen to the word of God, and then live accordingly every day.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Dealing with those nagging Problems

Read 1 Chronicles 20.

Once the mercenary army of Syria had been defeated, David waited until the spring to deal with the Ammonites.  Israel's army completely overthrew Ammon and brought to David all the spoils of that land, including the king that rejected David's kindness.

The parallel passage to this chapter is 2 Samuel 11.  There we are told that while Joab fought the Philistines David was committing adultery with Bathesheba.

From time to time Israel would defeat the Philistines and control them, but they never truly conquered them.  Goliath's brother and other family members evidently were as big as he was and they met a similar fate in battle.

Like the Philistines, some of our problems never seem to go away but rise up and nag us from time to time.  Paul had such a struggle.  He battled whatever it was.  He prayed for its removal, but the thing just would not go away.  For us whether that is a temptation to sin, physical ailment, or a nagging need we may rely on the words of Jesus, quoted by Paul.

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.  For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Thursday, March 8, 2018

The risk of being Kind

Read 1 Chronicles 19.

This is for everyone who ever had a kindness backfire on them.

When King David heard that a neighboring monarch had died, he sent a group of personal representatives with his condolences to the family.  His only intention was to "console" the son who would become the new leader of the Ammonites.  It was a kind gesture of a good neighbor.  Surely, this should have been a building block of relationship and peace between the two nations.

However, the new king of Ammon came under the influence of the other princes.  They could only see David’s response as a spy mission.  Believing this to be a threat from the powerful king of Israel, they humiliated the very ones sent to show kindness.  One foolish decision followed another as they prepared for war.  The Ammonites hired surrounding armies to fight for them.  Israel fought for themselves, depending on the LORD for the outcome of this unprovoked war.  The cost to the Syrians alone was 7,000 chariots and 40,000 foot soldiers killed.

1. Sometimes one's best intentions and motives may be misunderstood.

2. Hurting people hurt people.

3. Evil eyes only see evil in every act of others.

4. Personal sin blocks people from accepting the pure motives of others, resulting in behaviors of anger, criticism, and distrust.

5. Insecure people see kindness as a weakness and react by trying to seize control.

Run the risk of being kind anyway!  There is One is heaven who sees our hearts and knows our true motives.  He is the rewarder of those who do the right thing.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The key to success in life has not Changed

Read 1 Chronicles 18.

Just because a person is right with God, prays to God, and is blessed by God does not mean that they are exempt from the battles of life.

Coming out of chapter 17 where David enjoyed a wonderful encounter with the LORD, multiple wars then broke out.  However, in each case we read "And the LORD gave victory to David wherever he went."

When a person's ways please the LORD everyone around them benefits.  The battles were not fought nor won by David alone.  Thousands of others were involved.  The proof of one's true motives is often revealed when the battle is over.  Notice how David behaved afterwards.  "So David reigned over all Israel, and he administered justice and equity to all his people."  He was a blessing to others as God had blessed him.

It is a reminder of the LORD's instructions to Joshua.
"This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.  For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success."  (Joshua 1:8-9)

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

5 Insights when God says No

Read 1 Chronicles 17.

This is a pivotal chapter in the scriptures.  David wanted to do a great thing for God.  Instead, God wanted to do an eternal thing for David.

It bothered King David that he lived in a palace and God was worshiped in a tent.  The Tabernacle was a portable tent established during the days of Moses 500 years prior to this.  The LORD was pleased with David's intentions and the plans for a permanent Temple would come later.  Instead, God established an unconditional covenant with David and his descendants forever.  Notice all the "I will" statements and there are no "if" conditions.

-The LORD will make David's name great.
-The LORD will establish His people in the land.
-The LORD will make David's family the royal family for Israel.
-The LORD will insure that David has perpetual descendants.
-The LORD will establish David's throne forever.
This is a key reason for the genealogy in Matthew 1.  It proves that Jesus was born in the direct lineage of David and has a right to this throne.  When Jesus returns, it will be to rule as King and not just of Israel.  He will rule the nations as King of kings and LORD of lords. See Revelation 19:11-17.

Insights for us all from this episode in David's life:
1. God can use our discontent or frustration to start us down a path of action.
2. There was nothing wrong with David's desires.  But he was not the person and this was not the time for that desire to be fulfilled.
3. The initial, well-meaning affirmations of a close friend are not necessarily confirmations of what God wants done.
4. God does have plans for our lives and futures.  He chooses not to reveal those plans in advance so that we will walk by faith and learn to dependently trust Him.
5. When God says "no" to our desires, He is saying "yes" to something incredibly greater that we may not be able to see for a while.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Elements of true Worship

Read 1 Chronicles 16.

With the Ark in place, it was time to worship and sing praises to God.  This is one of many psalms (songs) in the Bible a part from the Book of Psalms.

I am indebted to Eugene Merrill for his comments on this chapter as he demonstrates that this song appears to be a compilation of other songs from David.
1 Chronicles 16               Psalms
16:8-22                           105:1-15
16:23-33                         96:1b-13a
16:34-36                         106:1b-c, 47-48

How does one praise and thank the LORD of heaven?  Surely, we would leave something out.  Our praise and thanksgiving at times seem so inadequate, limited by words, human thought, and memory.

This song contains praise for what God has done in the past.  There are other objects of worship but all of them are man made idols.  He alone is to be held in awe (v.25).  He is the Creator (v.26).  He sovereignly chose this nation, made an everlasting covenant with them, and protected them. Worship of the LORD is to include an offering (v.29).  Worship declares who God is.  He is holy and to be feared (v.29b-30).

"Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!" (v.34)

Saturday, March 3, 2018

The God of the second Chance

Read 1 Chronicles 15.

David learned his lesson from the error in chapter 13.  According to the Mosaic Law only the Levites were to carry the Ark of the Covenant.  The king called together hundreds of spiritual leaders and asked them to consecrate themselves before the LORD and prepare to return the Ark to Jerusalem.

It is no small detail that David explained in verse 13 what went wrong previously that cost Uzzah his life.  "Because you did not carry it the first time, the LORD our God broke out against us, because we did not seek him according to this rule."

The parade and great national celebration was on again!  The bands played.  The choirs sang.  The people danced.  Thousands cheered.

He has often been called the God of the second chance.  The LORD did not change His plans; He only changed those involved so they would put His word into practice.

Because of the forgiveness we have in Jesus, "He is   faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).  And, then, the LORD puts us right back on the path to do what we were supposed to do in the first place.  That is grace.

Friday, March 2, 2018

For those that need a Breakthrough

For those that need a Breakthrough
Read 1 Chronicles 14.

The very nature of leadership involves facing challenges and tests.  As soon as the Philistines heard that David was now the king, they went to battle.  The Philistines still relied on their man-made gods for guidance.  David, on the other hand, had complete faith in the LORD.

Each time he was challenged, David went to prayer and waited for an answer.  And, each time when the LORD was obeyed the nation experienced victory.

The first battle in this chapter took place at Baal-perazim which means "Lord of breaking through."  As David said, "God has broken through my enemies by my hand, like a bursting flood" (v.11).  In their quick retreat, the Philistines left all their gods behind.  David made sure they were all burned to ashes.

Some may choose to ignore the power of God.
Some may not believe in the power of God.
Some may resist the power of God.
But when God acts, it comes like an over-powering flood of water that bursts through all defenses of mankind.

Everyone needs a breakthrough at key times in their lives.  Our God is the "Lord of breaking through".

Thursday, March 1, 2018

The missing piece in the Party

Read 1 Chronicles 13.

The Ark of the Covenant had been captured by the Philistines in a battle with King Saul.  Now, King David organized a national celebration of unity that would include the return of the Ark to Jerusalem.  That beautiful gold covered box contained the tablets of law given to Moses, Aaron's rod that budded, and a jar of manna.  Over it were two Cherubs with their wings spread.  The high priest was to sprinkle the sacrificial blood of atonement for sin on the lid of that Ark.  Evidently, this had not been done for a quite a while during Saul's reign.

While returning the Ark was a noble and right decision, they failed to obey the Mosaic Laws concerning how to transport the Ark.  They thought they were doing a good thing by constructing a brand new cart for it.  That is what the Philistines had done in sending it back across the border.  But the law is clear in Exodus 25:13-14 that the Ark was to be carried by the Levites on poles that went through the rings built into the sides of the Ark.

What a sight this must have been!  The parade included instruments playing and people dancing, led by the king himself.  But all of a sudden a man was killed and the procession stopped.  David instantly became angry at God.  They entrusted the Ark to a local farmer, Obed-edom, for the next three months.  The walk home must have been a sad and confusing time for everyone.

David got over his anger when he understood what he did wrong (1 Chronicles 15:13) and confessed this.

God is not impressed with nice or joyous, human activity even for a good cause.  The standard for life is not if it feels right to us.  He wants obedience to His word above all.  Failure to do so is costly.

Know what God has said in His word.
Embrace what God has said.
Do what God has said.

Then let the celebration begin!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The key to a unified and joyful People

Read 1 Chronicles 12.

In addition to the select group of mighty men surrounding and serving David, many others were needed to unify the nation.  Governing Israel required a strong military force to protect the people.  They were always under threat by surrounding nations.  In that regard nothing has changed.

Tribe by tribe came forward announcing their allegiance to the new king.  These volunteers were first-rate soldiers with great and varying skills.

Those from the tribe of Gad were leaders, "officers of the army".  They possessed amazing fighting prowess: "the least was a match for a hundred men and the greatest for a thousand" (v.14).  Those from Issachar served using their wisdom in battle strategy: "men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do" (v.32).  From Zebulun came "50,000 seasoned troops" with one singular purpose-" to help David" (v.33)

This overwhelming show of strength not only showed a readiness to respond to any threat but insured peace.  It resulted in unity of the nation in this transition of power from Saul to David.  And, "there was joy in Israel" (v.40).

Involvement in any organization builds a sense of ownership and responsibility.  That sense of ownership leads to support.  When people are supportive but not involved, they will one day switch allegiance to another organization.  If leaders want to increase support, they must involve the people within the organization in ways that are meaningful to them, using their gifts, skills and experience.

That is a great description of a healthy, vibrant church.  We were never saved to sit.  We are gifted by the Holy Spirit to serve.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

A Leader cannot do it Alone

Read 1 Chronicles 11.

David, though anointed to be king years before, was finally inaugurated as king of Israel.  His charge from the LORD included serving as a shepherd of the people and a prince over the people.  David's experience growing up as a shepherd and his years of national leadership had prepared him well.  But as he made Jerusalem his home (called the city of David) the new king's greatest asset was "the LORD of hosts was with him" (v.9).

Every leader understands he cannot do the job alone.  People with varying skills, personalities, backgrounds, and abilities are required for any healthy organization.  God provided David with a position, but He also surrounded David some "mighty men".

What made them "mighty"?

As one reads through the list, the might of these men was more than just their physical and military prowess.

1. They were seasoned survivors, proven over-comers, battle tested.
2. They were blessed by God with success. v.14
3. They were attentive to needs. v.17
4. They were loyal, even at the cost of their lives. v.18
5. They were initiators, taking action to meet needs.

Every local church needs such a group of "mighty" people to surround their pastor for the protection, welfare, and growth of the congregation.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Ignoring God is Costly

Read 1 Chronicles 10

The end of chapter nine details the family lineage of Saul, Israel's first king.  Chapter ten fast-forwards straight to Saul's death.  Saul's reign is recorded in 1 Kings and that book ends with his death.

This particular battle against the Philistines proved costly.  Jonathan also was killed.

However, God had rejected Saul as king years before and, therefore, none of his family would follow him to the throne.

Verses 13-14 clearly state the reason for God's rejection.
-His breach of faith
-He did not keep the command of the LORD
-He consulted a medium for guidance
-He did not seek the LORD for guidance
Notice the wording in verse 14-"Therefore, the LORD put him to death..."

Ultimately, it was not the war, nor his suicide that cost his life.  His failure to depend on God and live obediently brought about Saul to his end.  There is no other source of hope in the universe than placing one's faith in our Creator, our Savior, and our Sustainer.

David, though not perfect, had a whole-heart for God and served as king for the rest of 1 Chronicles.

The Lord seeks and helps those who daily check and discipline their hearts before Him.

Friday, February 23, 2018

A public promise that changed a Nation

Read 2 Kings 23.

Imagine!  The king called for a national gathering so he could read the word of God to the people.  Next, Josiah made a public promise before the LORD to live for Him and obey His word "with all his heart and all his soul" (v.3).  Then, all the people joined King Josiah in that covenant.

This was followed by putting the word of God into practice.  They rid the country of all the trappings of the many false worship systems.  They cleansed the nation of the immoral and despicable practices done under the guise of religion.  There was no more tolerance of things that directly violated the word of God.

Because of the spiritual nonsense, the nation had not celebrated a Passover for many, many years.  But King Josiah reestablished the prescribed celebrations and true worship of God.

It is noteworthy that this did not change God's pronouncement of national judgment because of all the sin in the past.  The Babylonians were gaining strength to conquer Assyria and then take Judah captive.  Josiah was killed by Pharaoh Neco of Egypt.

Josiah left a wonderful epitaph: "Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him" (v.25).

The Lord of heaven evaluates our lives according to our knowledge, heart commitment, and practice of His written word.  I have joined Josiah in this covenant.  How about you?

Thursday, February 22, 2018

God’s word changes lives and Nations

Read 2 Kings 22.

After years of abuse and misuse of the Temple in Jerusalem by the previous two kings, Josiah ordered repairs and renovations to be done.  As the workmen began the job, the High Priest discovered a copy of "the Book of the Law"; probably the first five books of the Old Testament.  It was taken to King Josiah who asked that it be read to him.

Apparently, it had been years since anyone had heard the word of God.  As the king listened, he realized how the nation had forsaken God and how far they had moved from all that God expected of them.  He also realized that judgment for their disobedience would come.  He literally tore his clothes in anguish and sought godly counsel as to what to do.

It is interesting that with all the other notable prophets in Jerusalem at the time, such as Jeremiah, that they sought out a woman with a prophetic gift named Huldah.  She confirmed that "disaster" would come upon the land of Judah because of all the years of false worship.  However, to Josiah God stated that it would not happen in his lifetime "because your heart was penitent and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard..." (v.19).  Josiah was promised peace and protection from the judgment of God.

Reading, hearing, memorizing, meditating, applying and obeying the scriptures produces life-changing results. The Bible is not a book of history, unattached from life in the 21st century life.  Indeed, it is the key to life now and for eternity.

"For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." Hebrews 4:12

"This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.  For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success." Joshua 1:8

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The high cost of false Worship

Read 2 Kings 21.

Just because a father is a godly man and pleases the LORD does not guarantee that his children will be.  Even with the best upbringing each person must come to faith in God as an individual.  We see that graphically played out here.  Hezekiah was the best king of Judah, while his son Manasseh was the worst.

Manasseh's evil amounts to a long list of paganism and satanically inspired behaviors meant to destroy the nation's faith in the LORD.  In verse 2, the scripture calls them "despicable practices".
-worshiped in the high places, instead of the Temple in Jerusalem
-erected altars to Baal for sacrifices to appease this man made god
-made an Asherah, a carved pole to worship a cult goddess, and set it up in the Temple
-worshiped and served the "host of heaven"-literally a multitude in the heavens.  Often this refers to angelic beings, but this was astral worship of the stars and their movements as if they had some magical power or control over life.  Today, this is called astrology.
-he built altars for sacrifice to the "host of heaven" right in the Temple courts
-he sacrificed his own son in an altar fire
-he used fortune-telling
-he depended on omens
-he dealt with mediums
-he turned to wizards
-shed innocent blood throughout Jerusalem
The next king, Amon, Manasseh's son, continued all these sinful practices.

These things are not forms of harmless entertainment or fanciful practices to be tolerated.  Repeatedly they are called "evil" and stirred the anger of the LORD.  God affirmed the prophecy of Isaiah, spoken in chapter 20, that He will bring "disaster" upon Judah and Jerusalem to cleanse the nation spiritually.  He described it as one who washes out a dish and turns it upside down to dry over time.

This is an unmistakable warning to anyone involved in these false attempts at spiritualism.  Disaster will come.  It is also a clear call to turn to the true and living God, Maker of heaven and earth, who invites us to have a personal relationship with Him through faith in Jesus.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Our reflexes are Revealing

Read 2 Kings 20.

King Hezekiah of Judah became deathly ill.  The only clue concerning his malady is the mention in verse 7 of a boil.  One could imagine a possible infection had spread that threatened his life.  God sent the prophet Isaiah with a message.  This time it was not with the comforting words of "fear not" but the confirmation that the king would die.

How would this godly man respond to such devastating news?  He did what he had always done.  He took it to the LORD in prayer.  Facing his own mortality, he talked to God with honesty and transparency about his life in verse 3.
1. He lived life by being faithful to the LORD.
2. He lived life with a whole heart for the LORD.
3. He lived life by doing those things that pleased the LORD.

This was not bragging, nor did God need reminding.  Hezekiah could certainly have been saying, "After all I have done to please You and now this happens"!  Godly?  Yes, but human.  He "wept bitterly."

Isaiah had not even left the building when God turned him around with a caveat to the message.  God added fifteen years to the king's life.  Note that the healing had two key parts: 1. Spiritual: this was an answer to prayer.  2. Medicinal: Isaiah prescribed a treatment plan.  The confirmation on the steps is the third time in the Old Testament where God used darkness and/or daylight in a miraculous manner.

Do not miss the prophecy by Isaiah to Hezekiah in verses 16-18 that one day the Babylonians will come and take Judah into captivity.

How we respond to news that catches us off guard is usually a reflex action.  We all have reflexes based upon our personalities and personal disciplines, or lack thereof.  There is no discipleship without the practice of spiritual disciplines.  The disciplines train our reflexes so our responses will help us to react to real life with the full integrity of our faith.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Why does God answer prayer?

Read 2 Kings 19.

Just because one lives a godly life does not give them a pass from evil, threats, hardships and losses.  Hezekiah's best attempt to appease the king of Assyria only proved to increase the pressure.  Hezekiah turned to the LORD in prayer and sent for counsel from the prophet Isaiah.

The message delivered to Isaiah included "distress", "rebuke", "disgrace", "no strength" and the Assyrians "mock the living God".  In short, Hezekiah and his leaders had reached the end of themselves; they could not go on.  They asked the prophet to pray for them.  Isaiah's first response was "Do not be afraid."  Then, the prophetic message came that God would cause Sennacherib to hear a rumor that will cause him to return home where he will die.

But more defiance came from the Assyrians and then the letter arrived.  Hezekiah went into "the house of the LORD and spread it out before the LORD."  Without God's intervention, "we are destroyed." (v.18)

Isaiah's prayer and prophecy took place just as predicted.  God protected Jerusalem and saved this godly king with his people.  Why?  Two reasons are given in verse 34:
1. "For my own sake".  First and foremost, God acts to protect the honor of His name and His plans.  Life is not about us, but about how we bring glory to Him.  When some finite human speaks against the living God, He sees, He hears, and He will act in His own time.

2. "For the sake of my servant David."  King David had been dead for a few hundred years but God made a covenant regarding the royal line of David and the people of Israel.  God does not renege on His commitments, nor does He change His mind.  He does, however, work to change the hearts and lives of people to draw them to Himself.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Every commitment will be Tested

Read 2 Kings 18.

Hezekiah proved to be the best king of Judah since the nation divided.
1. "He trusted in the LORD." (v.5)  He was committed.
2. "He held fast to the LORD." (v.6a)  He was faithful to that commitment.
3. "He did not depart from following the LORD." (v.6b)  He lived a focused lifestyle.
4. He "kept the commandments that the LORD commanded Moses." (v.6c)  He put the commitment into practice.

Hezekiah aggressively led the nation accordingly.  He cleansed the nation of all false worship and the evil practices that went with them.  The result was that God prospered him.  History records that he probably lost some political friends over this; Egypt for example.  He confidently rebelled against the advancing oppression of the Assyrian Empire.  He victoriously stood up against the local enemy of the Philistines.   

Every commitment will be tested.

In response, the Assyrians marched against Judah.  Hezekiah apologized for his rebellion and paid them in silver and gold, hoping they would withdraw.  But the Assyrians did not and instead they sought to force Judah to surrender.  Sennacherib sent his top aides to negotiate Judah's surrender.  Their strategy was to belittle Judah.

Their key question in verse 19 is one every person must answer: "On what do you rest this trust of yours?"  Hezekiah's answer: "We trust in the LORD our God."

The Assyrians thought this was a stalling tactic while Hezekiah devised some worthless battle plan.  The mistake of unbelievers is to think the God of heaven is just one of many faith options.  That trust in the LORD is some kind of human coping mechanism with one's head in the sand.  However, repeatedly the Bible declares that the LORD is the One and only true God.  There are no others and certainly no human is a match to oppose the Creator.

Hezekiah prayed in the next chapter: "So, now, O LORD our God, save us, please, from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O LORD, are God alone." (19:19)

Saturday, February 17, 2018

God moves nations for His Purposes

Read 2 Kings 14-17.

Back and forth the scriptures record the succession of kings in Judah and then Israel.  There were no good kings in the north and an occasional good king in the south.  Meanwhile, God's chosen people languished spiritually in an environment of false worship, including at times sacrificing their own children (16:3) to appease a mythical god.  After defeating Syria, King Ahaz of Judah even tried to outdo the worship of the LORD in the Temple by building his own altar and re-purposing the furnishings dedicated to God. 

What was God doing in response?

1. He sent prophets to preach and warn the people of their sin and the impending invasion.  But they did not listen. (17:7-18)

2. He sent Jonah (14:25) to Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, to deliver His message.  Everyone there repented! (Jonah 3)   With this change in the Assyrians, God could use them to discipline His people in the north. (17:21-23)

3. He prepared the Assyrian empire to conquer Israel and assimilate the people.  He would also use them to control Judah as a tributary to their empire. (17:24)

4. He had the king of Assyria send some of the captured priests back to Israel to teach the inhabitants of the land how to live according to the word of God.  Amazing! (17:25-28)

The land remained in a mix of spiritual truth and myth.  But this did not change God, His Word, His covenant promises, or His expectations of their lives.

5. He continued His faithful call for them to respond so He could show His power on their behalf.
"But you shall fear the LORD your God and he will deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies." (17:39)

Friday, February 16, 2018

The prayer of the Unbeliever

Read 2 Kings 13.

Every one of Israel's kings during the divided kingdom period proved to be evil.  So, God "continually" used the Syrians to discipline them for their false worship and wicked behaviors.  Jehoahaz cried out to the LORD for help "and the LORD listened to him." (v.4)

God sent an unnamed person to bring about the deliverance of Israel in answer to the king's prayer.  The people were spared.  They experienced a time of peace.  Everyone went back to their own homes.

But, spiritually, nothing changed with them.  The Asherah was a tree or a pole dedicated to the worship of the sea goddess.  Often, she was deemed a cohort of other mythical gods, including Baal.

Jehoahaz' prayer appears to be like the so-called soldier's foxhole prayer: "God if you will get me out of this, I will do whatever you want."   Then, once the pressure is off, any promises made to the LORD are quickly forgotten.  How easily God is often blamed for the stressing and not given credit for the blessing!

Someone once said, "In bad times people pray.  In good times people play."  God is not an exit door "to be used only in case of an emergency".

It is an incredible reality that the God of heaven desires a personal and constant relationship with each of us.

Jesus said, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."  (John 11:28)

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Generosity gets the job Done

Read 2 Kings 12.

Nearly 175 years had passed since Solomon built the beautiful Temple in Jerusalem.  Understandably, some restorative repairs became needful.  King Joash ordered that the money for the work be taken from the census and freewill offerings collected by the Temple priests.  But after sixteen years that method proved to be insufficient to meet the need.  There were no extra funds for the repairs and therefore no repairs had been done.

So, Joash announced a special project offering that would be kept separate from the regular Temple operation expenses.  A chest made for this purpose was set right next to the altar for these gifts of generosity.  The monies were given directly to the workmen who did the restoration.

The principles here have not changed for the local church today.
1. Tithe monies are to be used to support the various ministries and ministers.
2. Giving is directly linked to worship.
3. Every project in the Bible was accomplished with over and above money, not with tithes.
4. Tithing is a responsibility of a believer in Jesus, prior to and after the Mosaic Law was fulfilled.  Giving over and above the ten percent is generosity and is a part of a mature believer's practice.   

In one of the most quoted passages regarding generosity giving to a project, the Apostle Paul wrote:

"Each one must give as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Corinthians 9:7)

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

What does it mean to be the LORD's people?

Read 2 Kings 11.

When the king in the southern kingdom of Judah died, Athaliah, his wicked mother, seized the throne.  It is hard to imagine someone being so power hungry that they would kill every family member.  But thanks to the merciful act of Jehosheba, Athaliah's grandson was hidden from the slaughter.

After more than six years, God raised up Jehoida, the priest, to implement a plan to overthrow Athaliah and to once again spiritually cleanse the nation.  Though just a boy, Joash was crowned king of Judah with his spiritual mentor making the decisions.

"And Jehoida made a covenant between the LORD and the king and people, that they should be the LORD's people..." (v.17)

What does it mean to be the LORD's people?
It meant that they would live to please and obey God.  It meant that they would get rid of anything that displeased the LORD.  This was a new beginning for the nation.

Daily taking time for some self-evaluation before the LORD is the road to spiritual health.  In what ways are we pleasing Him now?  What needs to be added to our daily disciplines?  What needs to be deleted from our lives in order to wholly obey Him?  What commitments do we need to make now in order to be a growing believer in Jesus?  

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

God keeps His Promises

Read 2 Kings 8-10.

Time and again the scriptures record how God keeps His promises.

The Shunammite widow from chapter 4 was protected by God.  He let her know in advance that there would be a famine for seven years.  She left the country for that time and the LORD took care of her.  When she returned God gave her favor with the king to restore her house and land.  Even more, he ordered that she be given seven years of produce from the land.

In Syria, God revealed to Elisha that King Ben-hadad would die and Hazael would reign in his place.  It happened, just as He said.

Then, the LORD had to deal with Jehoram, king of Judah.  He was an evil king.  "Yet the LORD was not willing to destroy Judah, for the sake of David his servant, since he promised to give a lamp to him and to his sons forever." (8:19)

Elisha instructed a nameless prophet to anoint Jehu as king of Israel.  His charge was to rid the country of the wickedness and sorceries of Ahab and Jezebel.  God used Jehu to fulfill the promises that were made in 1 Kings 21 by Elijah.  Finally, the murder of the innocent man, Naboth, had been avenged. 

Further, Jehu obeyed the LORD in executing all of Ahab's descendants and all the false prophets in Israel.  In the process of spiritually cleansing the nation he stated, "Know then that there shall fall to the earth nothing of the word of the LORD." (10:10a)

The wheels of God's justice may turn slowly (to us) but they do turn.  God works His justice through kings and nations.  Government powers and their overthrows are in His hand.  What God promises He will fulfill.  His word is without error and totally reliable.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Prepare for the windows of heaven to Open

Read 2 Kings 7.

Syria took military action again.  This time they laid siege to Samaria.  Their tactic was simply to starve the city to death.  The plan was working until the king of Israel had had enough and blamed Elisha.  When the captain arrived, whom the king sent to arrest Elisha, Elisha prophesied that all would be well.  There would be plenty of food and provisions for the city within twenty-four hours.

The captain did not believe this word from the LORD.  He scoffed that even if God made "windows in heaven" it would not happen.  Without any assistance from Israel, God confused the Syrian army so that they fled in panic.  They left behind all their food, clothing, valuables and animals.  The city of Samaria had more than they could use.  But unbelief cost the captain his life.

How does God open the windows of heaven?  The LORD is not limited in His ability to meet our needs.  He does not drop money out of the sky.  The resources He wants to give to His people are already here and nearer than we could imagine.  If we can earn it all without dependence on Him or if we feel we deserve it, then we could claim it as our own.  But when we know we did not deserve it and He surprises us with His grace, then He alone gets the credit and the glory.

First, we are to honor God with what He has already provided.  "Bring the full tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.  And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need."  (Malachi 3:10)

Friday, February 9, 2018

4 Godly responses to Fear

Read 2 Kings 6.

The Syrian king, Ben-hadad, repeatedly sought to attack Israel.  But each time God revealed the plans to Elisha who in turn informed the king of Israel.  Israel could not have had a better source of military intelligence.  It was God's way of protecting the northern kingdom.

Once Ben-hadad discovered the source of the intelligence leak, he sent his troops to capture Elisha.  They surrounded the city with their chariots, ready to advance.  Surely, Elisha's servant was not the only one to be scared.  But Elisha could see what no one else did.  He saw what God was doing to protect all of them.  He prayed, "O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see" (v.17).  God had encircled Elisha with horses and chariots of fire.  Then, the LORD struck the enemy with blindness so they were unable to move.  Humorously, Elisha led the Syrian army into the capital city of Israel.  Instead of killing them, a feast was provided and the king of Israel sent them back home safely.  Only God.

In times of fear-
1. Pray to see the problem from a spiritual perspective.  What is God doing?  It was not Syria against Elisha but Syria against God. (v.16)

2. Pray that others will see the problem from God's perspective. (v.17)

3. Pray directly for God's power to be displayed. (v.18)

4. Exercise wisdom that will result in peace. (v.23)

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Testing: what are the Results?

Read 2 Kings 5.

Naaman is described as "a great man", "in high favor", and "a mighty man".  He served the king of Syria as an army general.  Further, it was because of Naaman "the LORD had given victory to Syria."  That would seem to indicate that, even though he did not know the LORD, he was trying to do the right thing.  Now the tests begin to unfold in his life.

Test #1.  He had leprosy.  This meant he would live the rest of his life as an outcast and unable to be close to people.  This had to be humiliating for such a national leader.  How would he respond?

Test #2.  In one of his conquests, he had captured a young Jewish girl and given her to his wife as a slave.  The girl remembered that there was a prophet in Israel who could help with this leprosy.  Would this great man listen to the advice of a foreign slave girl?

Test #3.  With papers of passage, he left Syria and rode to the king of Israel in Samaria.  His purpose was totally misunderstood.  King Joram took it as a personal threat and became greatly upset at the prospect of war with Syria.  How would Naaman feel at this point?  Would his hopes be dashed?  Would he have to stand there and be embarrassed before this king?  Would his life be threatened?  As a general, would he begin a battle plan?

Test #4.  God had Elisha intervene.  The mighty general rode up to "the door" with his entourage and thought he would receive some memorable display of prophetic power from Elisha.  But Elisha never even came to the door.  Naaman was immediately offended.  Would he let pride get in the way of what he really needed and wanted?

It is through the tests of life that God endeavors to gain our attention to draw us to Himself.  His first purpose is for us to come to know Him personally.  The tests from then on are directed for our spiritual growth and steadfast trust in Him.

Naaman had a physical problem and looked to Elisha for a show of miraculous power.  Instead, what God wanted from Naaman was a demonstration of humble obedience.  When he became willing to obey, then the miracle happened.  However, the more important miracle is what took place inside Naaman.  He became spiritually alive and worshipped the true and living God.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Preparing to be Blessed

Read 2 Kings 4.

Elisha's double portion of Elijah's spirit continues to be on display in this chapter.  It contains three more miracles.

The first opportunity came from a widow of one of the prophets.  With her husband gone and no means of support, she was being foreclosed upon by creditors.  Evidently, she had no property as collateral, so her two sons would be taken as debtor slaves.  Elisha used a tactic often employed by Jesus.  The need appeared obvious but there was more than one way to resolve the issue.  He asked her thoughtful questions.

Some transferable insights for us:
1. Throughout the Old and New Testament, God has ordered special attention and care for widows and orphans.
2. Giving money to the needy is not always the best way to resolve the problem.
3. When there is a desperate need, it is good and right to ask ourselves and others some clarifying questions.
4. The key question is-"What do you already have"?  Often, the answer is not money but what is readily available to use for a solution beyond the immediate crisis.  It may not seem like much, but with God's blessing it can be enough.
5. Get ready to receive.  This requires an act of faith.  God will not waste His resources.  Why would He bless those who have no capacity to receive it?  The widow prepared to receive the blessing by expanding her capacity.  It was only a bunch of empty pots.  Note: God only gave her what she had prepared to receive.  Once all the pots were full, the blessing stopped.
6. In two of the miracles in this chapter Elisha gave instructions to "shut the door".  These miracles were not done as a side-show to draw a crowd.  Many times God works in private in order to reward openly.

We need to be thankful for what we have, seek to expand our capacity, and trust God to meet our need.  It will be enough.     

Monday, February 5, 2018

To whom do you turn?

Read 2 Kings 3.

The king of Moab decided to stop providing enormous amounts of taxation in the form of food and clothing to Israel.  This rebellion demanded a military response.  The kings of Israel, Judah and Edom formed a quick alliance and set out for battle.

Their strategy caused them to march in areas where there was no water.  Only at this point do they want to inquire of God.  So, they sent for Elisha.  Before Elisha did anything, he pointed out to Jehoshaphat that with all the false prophets in Israel, none of them could help when he needed it.  Meeting the vast needs of armies and animals with water was no problem for God.  "This is a light thing in the sight of the LORD" (verse 18a).  In addition, the LORD guaranteed their victory.

When the king of Moab realized he could not win, he resorted to a desperate act for help according to his pagan worship.  He sacrificed his own son as an offering to a made-up god.  This was so repulsive that everyone returned home disgusted.

1. God is a person with whom we are to have a personal, intimate relationship. 
2. God is not an insurance policy that is only used when there is a disaster.
3. There is only One in heaven who can truly help us.  All other sources of help will eventually prove to be poor substitutes at best and evil at worst.

As Edward Mote penned, "On Christ the solid Rock I stand.  All other ground is sinking sand."

Saturday, February 3, 2018

The number one block to Hope

Read 2 Kings 1.

When the need is great enough people search for spiritual help.

Ahaziah was an evil king over Israel.  But as he lay dying from an accident he wanted spiritual intervention.  He turned to the pagan, made up god called Baal-zebub.  Instead, God sent Elijah.

The majority of the Jews lived in the northern kingdom of Israel.  They separated from Judah.  The problem was that Jerusalem with the Temple was in the south.  Spiritually, the north had cut themselves off from their true center of worship.  Elijah's message from God, in the form of question, underscored the issue.

King Ahaziah thought he would display his royal power and authority by sending troops to order Elijah to appear before him.  Underneath the surface of this action was the spiritual battle.  It was not the king against Elijah.  It was the hubris of Ahaziah and his rebellion against the God of heaven.  Unfortunately, the king's pride cost the lives of many soldiers.  Finally, the third captain understood.  With great humility, he pleaded with Elijah for his life and that of his men.

There was no repentance of sin on the part of Ahaziah.  In his hurt, he just wanted help from any spiritual source.  The only true spiritual help and the only hope he for eternity was right in front of him.  Why would a dying man continue to hold fast to his false beliefs?  "Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall."  Proverbs 16:18

"...'God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.'  Submit yourselves therefore to God." 
James 4:6b-7a

Friday, February 2, 2018

Examining what you Hear

Read 1 Kings 22.

This is a rare account when the king of Israel and the king of Judah sat down peaceably and planned anything together.  The question at hand was whether to go to war against Syria.  All of Ahab's prophets immediately supported the king's desire to go to war.  But Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, was a godly man and realized that something was not right.  They summoned Micaiah.

Micaiah was not like the hired prophets of Ahab at all.  He declared, "As the LORD lives, what the LORD says to me, that I will speak" (v.14).  This true prophet of God revealed the nature of false prophets.  They "entice" (vv.20-22) the hearers who pay them with what they want to hear, not what God's word says.  Therefore, they are lying when they speak (v.22).  The words sound good to the undiscerning, but they are empty concerning what God wants done.  They become socially acceptable and repugnant to the LORD.

As Micaiah was led away to prison for telling the truth, he delivered a prophetic word concerning Ahab.  The certainty of the prophecy was that Ahab would not return from the battle in peace.  Indeed, Ahab died as a result of a so-called random arrow that hit the one person in just the right place to fulfill the prophecy.  This was no coincidence.  God took care of the pouting, evil king and fulfilled the original gruesome prophecy of his death in 1 Kings 21:24.
Just because someone has a religious position or says they know what God wants does not make it so.  Gratefully, today we have God’s word written down for us in the Bible.  There have always been false prophets who do not know the LORD, or His word, and only go through the motions of their religion.  When the Apostle Paul preached in Berea, the people who heard him even checked his message against the Scriptures to see if it was truthful. 

"...they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so." (Acts 17:11)

Thursday, February 1, 2018

When the leader fails to lead, everyone pays a price.

Read 1 Kings 21.

This is the story of a pouting king and the consequences of selfish, evil behaviors.

Underlying principles that Ahab violated:
1. We are to respect the rights of others.
2. We are to respect the heritage of others.
3. We are never to abuse power for personal gain.  That is the definition of extortion.
4. We are to take swift and decisive action when we become aware of wrong doing.

If the person responsible will not take action, someone else will fill that vacuum and the outcome may not be honorable.

Mistakes and sins committed by Jezebel:
1. She took up another's offense.  She should have reminded her husband that he possessed plenty of food and land already.  She should have been an encourager to him.
2. She took responsibility and authority that did not belong to her.  There was no crisis for her to usurp authority.  She used the king's power to do evil.
3. She lied.
4. She devised an evil scheme, commanded others to participate in murder, and abused the legal system against an innocent man.  Those in charge of such judgments became directly and knowingly involved in the corruption.

God sent Elijah to condemn these two for what they did.
1. Ahab "sold" himself to do evil. (v.20)
2. Ahab "made Israel sin." (v.23)
3. Ahab allowed Jezebel to incite him to do evil. (v.25)

Yes, Ahab repented at the news of the impending disasters.  However, God did not change His mind.  He only delayed  implementing a part of the judgment.

King David wrote wise words for us today-

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer." (Psalm 19:14)