For some reason I can’t log in to WordPress on my computer. I’m using my phone right now, but my computer only shows the WordPress logo in grey. It won’t let me comment on other blogs, or post on my own. Anyone else experienced this? I could use some help! 🙂
I Kings 15:1-24, 2 Chronicles 13-16
Baasha, king of Israel, was at war with Asa, king of Judah. King Asa heard that the Israeli army was going to cut them off, preventing anyone from coming in our going out of Judah. So Asa sent silver and gold to Ben-hadad, king of Aram, asking him to break his treaty with Israel, and help the people of Judah.
Here’s the thing. Asa had been doing some pretty good things in Judah. He led his people in worship of God, and removed the idols from the land. But when Asa’s true colors were seen when went he to Ben-hadad for help instead of going to God, the seer Hanani got a word from God to deliver to Asa. The message went something like this:
You blew it, Asa. You didn’t trust God to help you against the Israelites, but you trusted a mere man. So God wants you to know that from here on out, your nation will surely have wars. (16:7-9)
I’d like to tell you that Asa repented when faced with his sin. But he didn’t. In fact, he got mad at Hanani and threw the seer in jail.
I get it. Nobody enjoys hearing they’re wrong. Nobody likes having their sins thrown in their faces. But when we are wrong, and we will be, how we handle the correction is very important.
Asa’s stubbornness led to an illness . Even in this, Asa didn’t turn to God. He turned to the doctors and just tried to side-step the Lord. Not a smart move.
I need to remember that when God points out sin in my life, whether through reading His Word, through a Sunday sermon, or through the voice of a friend, my reaction is crucial. May I not react harshly toward the messenger, but rather repent of that sin.
And may my worship of God come from a heart that wants to please Him, even in those times I have to swallow my pride and admit I’m wrong.
I suggested yesterday that we read Lamentations and consider our relationship, and the relationship of the Church, with God. I was struck again today by what I found in 4:12:
The kings of the earth did not believe, nor did any of the inhabitants of the world, that the adversary and the enemy could enter the gates of Jerusalem.
That really scares me.
There are some who believe the Church is invincible because of God’s power. I think that leaves us open for a fall. If we believe the adversary and the enemy can’t enter the doors of the church, we haven’t been paying attention. It’s already happened.
It has nothing to do with God’s power. It has everything to do with our sin.
Once again I feel the urgency of lighting a fire under Christians and shouting WAKE UP! It’s time we identify the enemy and get him out of our pulpits, strip the name “Christian” from him, and call sin sin.
How long are we going to ignore our adversary, or worse – listen to him?
Dear God, help us defeat the one who is impersonating You. He is the adversary, the enemy. Satan isn’t just the power of evil out there in the world. He’s right here in our home. Defeat the evil in us, and in our churches, for Jesus’ sake.
It is likely that, when we read Jeremiah’s lament over the condition of Israel and the devastating consequences they were experiencing as a result of sin, we are tempted to say, “Boy! God was really mad at the Jews.”
But I am reminded that the Bible is not merely a history book. It is alive and active and powerful for today. What was true for the nation of Israel in Jeremiah’s day is still true today for the 2016 Church.
I know there are some wonderful things happening in the name of Jesus throughout the world. I know there are many of you who are standing on the Truth of Scripture, who are sharing the Gospel with boldness. I thank God for you, and praise Him for souls saved because of your faithfulness.
Yet sometimes when I read the Bible I get a sense of urgency. Warning bells go off. Like when I read 2:13b-14:
To what shall I liken you as I comfort you, O virgin daughter of Zion? For your ruin is as vast as the sea; who can heal you? Your prophets have seen for you false and foolish visions; and they have not exposed your iniquity so as to restore you from captivity, but they have seen for you false and misleading oracles.
This makes me think about the number of “churches” that have eliminated the word “sin” from their theology. Larger denominations that have accepted, and even promote sin in regards to abortion and homosexuality. The growing number of divorces happening in Christian homes, indicating that a vow to God is meaningless. The emphasis on positive thinking, deserving happiness, taking care of yourself before all others.
I think about the “tolerant” mantra being repeated by people claiming to be Christians, the acceptance of multiple paths to God, the denial of the inerrancy of Scripture, and the idea that Jesus wasn’t really God.
The prophets in Jeremiah’s day spouted false and misleading oracles. And Israel was suffering the consequences for going along with them. We’ve got some of those kinds of prophets yet today. I believe God is very clear to warn us that if we go along with them, we’ll suffer the consequences, too.
I hope you’ll read Lamentations and ask God to speak to your heart about your own relationship with Him, and what your church fellowship is feeding on.
Are we as broken before God over sin in the Church as Jeremiah was over sin in Israel? May it be so.
2 Chronicles 10-12
Rehoboam wasn’t a child when he became king, but he did a very childish thing. Instead of listening to the sound advice of the elders, he listened to the foolishness of his buddies. He established himself as a hard, ego-maniac leader. “Don’t mess with me,” he seems to have said to the people who were working for him.
We all need advice once in a while. I’m thinking of selling my home and I can use all the good advice I can get. But there is all kinds of advice out there. How do you discern the good from the bad?
I believe the Bible is full of good advice. In Scripture we see example after example of what happens when God’s people go to Him before doing anything. When they take time to pray, to seek His face, they are blessed.
It’s when they go it on their own or listen to the advice of others who have not gone to God first, that trouble follows.
I want to know God’s will. So before I talk to a realtor, I’ll talk to God. Before I go talk to the bank, I’ll spend time in God’s Word. I’ll ask my Christian friends to pray for me. And I’ll be careful not to try to push open doors God closes.
If you want my advice, you’ll do the same before you make a decision of any kind.
I Kings 12-14
How important is it that you spend time in God’s Word, that you read it, that you memorize it, and pray for understanding? I Kings 13 has that answer.
If you don’t know what God has said, you will believe anyone who says they’ve had a message from God. You’ll believe that preacher who uses verses to promote his lies. You’ll believe God gave someone an addendum to the Bible, and follow a new religion.
Now here is what God says about that. Just because someone says they’ve had a message from God doesn’t make it so. And if you believe the lie, you will be held accountable.
The prophet of God died because he fell for the lies of a false prophet. God didn’t overlook his disobedience, didn’t say his intentions were good, didn’t say he was sincere, or gave him a pass because he had followed God in the past.
And God won’t say that to any of us, either.
Many times in Scripture God has warned about false prophets. Do you know one when you hear one? They are out there. They are on our TV’s, in social media, they are bloggers, and some are standing behind pulpits in some of our churches.
You won’t recognize their lies if you don’t know Scripture. Don’t take anyone’s word for it, if you haven’t read it yourself. Don’t believe what I say, without reading the passages for yourself. Don’t assume your pastor is true to the Bible if you don’t know what the Bible says.
You have got to know God’s Word, the Scripture He inspired men to write so long ago. This Bible we hold in our hands is the only Truth that matters. Your life depends on your knowing it.
There is an old woman who has been following me around lately. Most of the time I’m not even aware that she’s there. But once in a while I look in the mirror and see her gazing back at me. Sometimes I look down and see her hand holding my pen. Truthfully, it’s getting harder and harder to ignore her. I certainly can’t deny her. I just signed up for MediCare.
The description of a worthy woman here at the end of Ecclesiastes has me examining my life. And before you men out there quit reading this post because you think it doesn’t apply to you, let me remind you that believers are described as “the Bride of Christ.” So don’t think you’ve dodged a bullet. This Scripture is for you, too.
Looking beyond the material description of the Proverbs 31 woman, I want to use it to check my relationship with my eternal Bridegroom.
Can Jesus trust me? Do I represent Him well, or do people see a bit of evil in me? Do I serve Him with delight? Do I care for the people in my home, in my church, in my community? Am I concerned about their souls? Do I put on the whole armor of God, keeping the light of my witness burning? Is Jesus recognized and honored by my neighbors because of me? Do I plant seed by sharing the Gospel? Do I know Scripture so that when I do open my mouth, it’s with wisdom from God?
The proverb tells us beauty is fleeting. It certainly won’t matter how many wrinkles we have when we leave this life to meet our Bridegroom. What will matter is the life I lived while I had the chance.
There are so many things about this Proverbs 31 woman that speaks to our life in Christ. I hope you read it and allow God to speak to you about your own relationship with Him today.
I Kings 10-11, 2 Chronicles 9
My sister Kathy and I were talking yesterday about the passages in Ecclesiastes I’d been reading. We were remarking about how Solomon was not only the wisest man who ever lived, he was the richest. And as far as I can tell he was the most self-indulgent person on record, too.
Solomon had it all. And it became his ruin.
Kathy said something that has me thinking today as I read about Solomon’s turn from God. She wondered how the same man who wrote The Song Of Solomon, the man who was totally devoted to his first love, and who was loved like that in return, could end up with 700 wives and 300 more women he had sex with. How did he go from that precious first love, so pure, intense, and exclusive, to such a mind-boggling disregard for that love?
The answer is in the chapters I read today. It happened gradually. One day, one step at a time.
Most likely some of the women were gifts from neighboring kings. But Solomon welcomed them into his home. And he allowed them to bring their detestable idols with them. Everything God had warned him to avoid.
I don’t think Solomon woke up one morning and said, “I think I’ll worship Ashtoreth today.” But Scripture tells us eventually Solomon became a worshiper of that Sidonian god, and a worshiper of other imaginary gods as well.
Did it start out with curiosity? Solomon seems to be a man who loved learning everything he could. Maybe he thought observing his wives go through their pagan rituals was a learning experience, would help him understand his wives better. I don’t know. The Bible just says this about King Solomon:
For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been. (I Kings 11:4)
That makes me sad. The Bible seems to indicate that Solomon kept his first wife, his first love, separate from the others. Built her a better house. Maybe spent more time with her than with the others. Probably gave her roses on their anniversary or a box of candy on Valentines Day. But the reality is he had something else going on, too. And that something else ended up turning his heart away from God.
The Bible takes it a step further:
Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and did not follow the Lord fully, as David his father had done. (I Kings 11:6)
Solomon who built that incredible temple, who was so gifted with wisdom and power and material wealth. Solomon who represented God to the nations around him. Ended up being remembered for doing evil in the sight of the Lord.
Fast forward a few thousand years. What would God want me to take away from Solomon’s life? I find myself checking my relationship with my own first love.
The early church in Ephesus was a vibrant, busy congregation who persevered, did not tolerate sin, even called their preachers out when the preachers weren’t speaking the truth. But Rev 2:4 reports what God says about that church in Ephesus:
But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
That’s where God is nudging me this morning. I can think about Solomon and wonder about his fall, but there is a more important truth to consider. And that is my own heart’s condition before my Lord.
The question I need to answer today is this: Is my heart “wholly devoted” to God? Or have I tolerated a bit of sin in my life? Have I begun to take those steps away from God that I consider no big deal at the moment? Do I serve Him out of love? Do I nurture that love, think about Him, talk about Him, spend time with Him? Is God the focus of my life or not?
Solomon is going to be required to give an answer for his heart’s condition before the same Holy God I’m going to give an account to. What will my answer be?
God, I want to love You like You deserve to be loved. I want to keep You the focus of my thoughts and actions. I want to walk with You, include You in every minute of every day. And I want to forsake all others, keep myself only for You, resist the devil. I want to serve You out of a heart of love and devotion. It’s You and me, Lord. Just You and me.
Just reading over these chapters doesn’t do justice to the wisdom here. I find the book of Ecclesiastes to be one I need to read slowly, and take time to digest it all. I don’t have the time, or even the desire, to dissect every verse on this blog. But I would like to share one verse that God used to get my attention today.
Since yesterday was Father’s Day, I guess I am still thinking about parents and parenting. Here is God’s advice for parents, given through Solomon in 8:11:
Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to evil.
1) Don’t do that. 2) I told you not to do that. 3) How many times do I have to tell you to stop? 4) If you do that again, I’m going to spank you. 5) Do you want a spanking? 6) Did you hear me? 7) I’m tired of telling you to stop. 8) Stop!
Sound familiar? Your child willfully disobeys you. Not once, eight times in this example. And what you’ve taught your child is that they can break your rules eight times before they have to obey. Sometime your child learns they never have to obey because your threats are meaningless.
WHAT YOU ALLOW, YOU TEACH. Not only does the guilty child learn that lesson, so does everyone within hearing distance.
Look at the crime rate here in the US compared to countries that hand down swift and harsh punishment for breaking the law. What you allow, you teach.
Parents, it is your responsibility to raise children who are not “given fully to evil,” as Solomon says. How you discipline your child for disobedience makes all the difference in the world.
And it’s a lesson your child just might take into eternity. It’s that important.
Years ago I worked with a man who was very dedicated to his job as high school band director. He spent many after-school hours in his office, working on halftime shows, giving private lessons, repairing instruments. The man could do it all. And he did it well.
He had three children who never spent much time with their dad, until they were in the high school band themselves. I remember the junior high band director, also a father of three, talking to our co-worker and encouraging him to go home and play with his kids. I don’t think he ever did.
Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes that jobs and wealth and success and education and partying and things are all worthless in the end. A chasing after wind.
In Sunday School today we were talking about serving two masters. It’s impossible to give 100% to more than one. One of the ladies said we, as beings created to worship God, end up worshiping SOMETHING even if we reject Him. Some worship careers, or family, or self, or wealth, or even education. Ask Solomon what he thinks about any and all of the substitutes he tried.
Today is Father’s Day. And may I say thank you to those of you incredible men who love God, love their wives, and who love their children. Thank you for the time you spend with them, for the hugs and giggles. Thank you for the discipline and the direction you give to the ones God has given you. I pray that they are learning what their Heavenly Father is like by living in your home.
Here’s something you probably already know. When you die, your money stays here. Your car, your job title, your bank account, your toys stay here for others to use, abuse, ignore, or sell. When you die, you relinquish control, even if you think you have an airtight will.
The only things that you will take with you into eternity are the souls of those with whom you have shared Jesus. And I can’t think of a more important soul than that child who calls you Daddy (or Mommy, ladies. Same is true for us) Are your children ready to meet their Creator because of the influence you’ve had on them? Are they living for the Lord because they see that living for the Lord works for you?
What are your priorities? Is it that job, or more money, more prestige? Or is it obeying God and worshiping Him according to Scripture? Your children are watching you worship every day.
What is it they see you worshiping?