Tag Archives: obedience

(2 Kings 12) Integrity

Now here’s something you don’t see every day. Any day, really.

Let me set the scene:

Scripture tells us there were repairs going on in the temple. The contractors and workers were paid with silver that came into the temple by way of the offerings from worshipers. The high priest and his secretary weighed, then bagged the offering silver.

“Then they would give the weighed silver to those doing the work – those who oversaw the Lord’s temple. They in turn would pay it out to those working on the Lord’s temple – the carpenters, the builders, the masons, and the stonecutters – and would use it to buy timber and quarried stone to repair the damage to the Lord’s temple and for all expenses for temple repairs.” (12:11-13)

It sounds like it would have been an accounting nightmare, especially without spreadsheets and Microsoft Office on their computers.

But listen to this. This is what struck me today:

“No accounting was required from the men who received the silver to pay those doing the work, since they worked with integrity.” (vs 15, emphasis mine)

Have you ever had any remodeling done in your home? How did it go? You hire a contractor who hires workers to do the actual remodel, plumbers, painters, carpenters, tile workers. Or maybe the contractor actually does the work himself. Were you happy with the finished project? Was the job completed on time and within budget? Was the work done to your satisfaction? I bet some of you have horror stories.

Like my sister who, after she and her husband shelled out almost $30,000.00 for a remodeled bath and laundry room, continue to discover problems:

a toilet set too close to the wall

faulty (and dangerous) wiring

shower floor not caulked

closets without doors because they were mis-measured

a sump pump clogged with mortar dust because the worker emptied his bucket in the sump pump with water containing the dust from sanding the new drywall

Oh, there’s more. But you get the idea. My poor brother-in-law is outside digging a hole in their front yard, hoping to replace or reroute the pipe from the clogged sump pump before it rains today and ruins their new carpeting.

Integrity? I’m not seeing it here exactly. But here’s my point:

are any of us doing our jobs with integrity?

I play the organ at church. If I tell myself that if I hit a wrong note here and there no one will notice, am I playing with integrity?

If I teach a Sunday School and think, they’re just children so if I am not as prepared this week it’s no big deal, am I teaching with integrity?

Are you parenting with integrity? Are you working at your marriage with integrity? Representing Jesus with integrity? Driving your car, paying your taxes, being a neighbor, caring for your parents, serving on a committee at church, whatever… Are you working with integrity?

Do you need someone standing over you to make sure you are doing the job well and honestly? Or can they throw away the spreadsheets, like they did here in 2 Kings, because you do your work with integrity?

May each of us, no matter how big or small the task God gives us to do, be men and women with integrity. Then may we do the job as unto the Lord.

Integrity might be something we don’t see every day. But it should definitely be seen in you and me who know Jesus as our Savior.

Every day.

(I Kings 13-16) For Generations To Come

Why did God not wipe out the blatantly disobedient people of Israel? One king after another – on both sides of the Israeli teams – obeyed God to differing degrees. Most disobeyed Him unashamedly. Their open rejection of everything God stood for would seem to be reason enough for God to wipe them off the face of the earth.

Why didn’t He do that? First of all, Scripture makes it clear God doesn’t delight in the deaths of His enemies, that His Sovereign will is that no one die without His saving grace. God didn’t – and doesn’t – destroy the Jews because of that one person whose heart is stirred, that one who is softening toward Jesus, and who will receive what the Messiah died to provide.

The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. (Psalm 103:8)

But here is what occurred to me this morning as I sat here praying about these chapters in I Kings: God had made promises about Israel’s preservation to Abraham and to King David. Why? Because these men had vital relationships with God based on complete surrender and great faith. Neither man was perfect. But both men trusted God, and confessed and repented of sin. They were faithful to God, and He was faithful to them.

I am sure we are all praying for our children. We want God to bless and protect them today and every day. But I’m wondering how many generations of our descendants will be touched by God’s hand of protection, His grace and mercy, because we are living lives of obedience here and now? How many of our children and grandchildren will be blessed because we ourselves are surrendered to God, and demonstrate complete faith in Him? How many years will God continue to answer our prayers long after we are gone from this earthly body?

Our lives are lived in a few decades on this earth. But our prayers live into eternity. Our example goes on without us in the hearts and minds of our children. Our influences influence them whose influence impacts our grandchildren who will have children and grandchildren of their own.

What example of obedience are those dear ones seeing in us today? More importantly, what is God seeing in us that would cause Him to want to answer our prayers for the next generation and the next?

Abraham’s and David’s prayers are still being answered today because they were faithful to God while they had that opportunity. May the same be said of us a few thousand years from now.

(I Kings 3-7) Living In Splendor

The Temple is built. I can only imagine the splendor. It was a house built for the King of Kings! It must have been breathtaking with all the gold, silver, cedar, carvings and sculptures. I’m glad God included those details in the passages I read today.

But as I read, I kept thinking about how, even after seven years of careful construction and at great expense, this temple will not survive. In a few short years, things will drastically change because of the disobedience of God’s people.

What does this tell us about God? After all, the Bible is given to us so that we can know Him. What does He want us to know?

As I sat here and thought about this, I recognized how this picture of the Temple, like all Scripture, paints a picture of how God blesses obedience; but He removes Himself and His protection when His people disobey. That was true in Solomon’s day. It’s still true today.

It’s true in our personal lives, and it’s true in a nation.

I want my walk with God to be in the splendor of His glorious Presence. Like the brick and mortar temple Solomon built with all it’s glory, every minute detail designed and blessed by God as I obey Him. I am able to do that because of His grace and mercy, as I continually submit to Him.

Sadly, I sometimes find myself walking in the rubble of a temple leveled by disobedience.

We will see in the chapters and books ahead how the Israelites will try time after time to rebuild or redecorate the temple. It will never be brought back to the glory we read about in these chapters in I Kings. However, unlike the temple Solomon built, I am able to return to that splendor when I confess and repent of sin. God’s Presence is renewed, my walk blessed by Him as I follow His blueprint for my life.

May my walk today be a life marked by the glorious Presence of God. May my heart be clean according to His plan. May I stand out as someone who is walking in the splendor which is God Himself. And may I be blessed, and a blessing, as I obey Him with all my heart.

(2 Samuel 12) Who’s Unfair?

Before you tell God how unfair He was to take David’s newborn son, you need to stop. God is very clear to tell us in His Word that there are consequences for sin, and sometimes innocent people suffer.

God doesn’t want that.

How many times must He tell us to obey Him and be blessed, to trust Him and enjoy the good things He offers to His obedient children? And how many times must He tell us how much He hates, and punishes sin? I don’t know how much more clear God can be about that.

Then let me ask you this: are there innocents in your home who are suffering because of sin in your life?

We all know of children who live in poverty because their drunken fathers can’t hold a job. There are bruised and battered children whose mom can’t control her temper. There are children in foster care with parents in jail, on the streets, or dead because of sin. And there are people who suffer their whole lives with learning disabilities, even physical disabilities as a result of a mother who couldn’t stop shooting up, or couldn’t put down the alcohol and cigarettes while she was pregnant.

Is that fair? Are you going to blame God for that, too?

It grieves me that there are children growing up without any knowledge of God because parents choose golf over Sunday School, and brunch over going to church. The effect of the sin of rejecting God could reach into eternity for the innocents in those homes.

I know it’s the “woke” thing to do to blame everyone else for our struggles. I’m so over this whole thing. I will tell you, whether you want to hear it or not, that you – YOU – are responsible for your behavior. YOU are responsible for whether you obey God, or choose sin.

And here is the other side of that coin. Your sin can and does effect innocent people. It’s not God who is being unfair.

It’s you.

(I Samuel 13-15) God Regrets

God’s Sovereignty is such a mystery. Some people believe life on earth is predestined to play out exactly how God causes it to be. Others think God set the world in motion, then stepped back to see how it would progress without His intervention. Some people place themselves somewhere in the middle, and believe God’s will will always be done no matter the choices we make, because if we make one decision, He will orchestrate situations which lead to His will, if we make another decision, God will manipulate circumstances in another direction to bring about His will. Still others believe something in between all of those.

(Let me say here that I know there is one indisputable aspect of God’s will that will ALWAYS be true. That is that anyone who believes in Jesus will be saved. It’s the “whosoever” of John 3:16. Anyone who comes to God on His terms, He will in no wise cast out. Take that to the bank!)

The question of God’s Sovereignty comes up when Scripture tells us God “regretted” making Saul king. Does that mean He wished He’d appointed someone else in light of what Saul did? Is God really saying hindsight is 20/20? Are we to assume this is the same as an unhappy husband regretting he’s married his nagging wife?

The definition of regret is: “a feeling of sadness, repentance, or disappointment over something that has happened or been done.”

I think what we see here in I Samuel is God’s expression of sadness and disappointment. God has nothing to repent for! Remember His will for Israel was that HE would be their king. They chose a human king instead. I think God mourned the inevitable pain their rejection of Him is going to cause. What Saul did was the tip of the iceberg as we will see as we read on in the Scriptures. And that made God sad.

When you watch your child make a decision that you know is going to end up hurting them, isn’t there a bit of regret, or sadness, or disappointment? It’s the same with God. He loved the people. He loved Saul. And it grieved Him to know how their choices were going to hurt them.

God was disappointed. But He was not surprised. After all He, in His Sovereignty, had already watched the scene played out before it happened. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t break His heart.

My Apologetics Bible said this about this passage: “(God’s) relationships with people are authentic and personal, not pre-programmed.” I tend to agree.

As I think about this passage this morning, I am determined not to cause God any disappointment or sadness. I pray that I – that we all – will decide to obey Him today and bring Him only joy. No regrets.

(I Samuel 8-12) Gotta Let It Go

God had made Saul King of Israel. Yet when we next see Saul he’s out plowing his field like any other day. Wouldn’t you think God would want him doing king-stuff? It seems Saul was caught between his old comfortable life, and the unknown life for which God had anointed him.

Sometimes it’s hard to let go of our past. Most of us liked it there. It was familiar, predictable, perhaps exciting. It was “us.” But when we meet God and accept His will for our lives, He asks us to turn, to leave behind the old and put on the new.

It can be uncomfortable and scary. But if we are to be the people God wants us to be, we’ve got to let go of the people we were. Sometimes it means leaving home in a physical way, leaving former friendships, overcoming old habits.

Saul could not be king hanging onto a plow. We can’t be the people God wants us to be hanging onto our pasts, either. We’ve got to let it go, leave it behind, and step toward the blessings of life according to God.

(Judges 1-3) Failures

The Jews were failures. Manasseh failed. Ephraim failed. Zebulun failed. Ashar failed. Naphtali failed. The Danites failed. They all failed to obey God by not driving out the enemy from the Promised Land.

Judah didn’t drive out the enemy, using the excuse, “They have strong chariots.” Judah failed.

Benjamin didn’t drive out the Jebusites, but learned to co-exist with them instead. Benjamin failed.

All the tribes of Israel obeyed God to a degree. But Scripture doesn’t celebrate their partial victories. Scripture reports their failures.

I guess I’m understanding that mostly obeying God means I’m disobeying Him. The Israelites will pay dearly for their disobedience as we will see in the books of Judges, the Samuels and the Kings. The Jewish people are going to look and worship just like the enemies they didn’t drive out of the land. And God will judge them.

Our 21st century Church needs a wake-up call. Baptists are failures. Presbyterians are failures. Methodists are failures, Catholics are failures. We haven’t driven out the enemy, but have learned to co-exist with him. And we look and worship just like those who follow the enemy.

I think God would have us take a look at our level of obedience. Because if we aren’t obeying Him 100%, we are disobeying Him. If we aren’t obeying Him according to Scripture, we are failures.

(Deuteronomy 29-30) Exempt?

We’ve got a problem. Too many of us live like we believe that if we identify as Christians, if we prayed the prayer and confessed our sins, if we read our Bibles and are good people, we are somehow exempt from the consequences of sin. We believe our sins are “under the blood,” so that sin we commit has already been dealt with. But I wonder.

Too many of us are comfortable with sin in our lives, and in our churches. Listen to what God says through Moses about this in 29:19a:

When someone hears the words of this oath, he may consider himself exempt, thinking, “I will have peace even though I follow my own stubborn heart.”

Is reading God’s Word or hearing a sermon that golden ticket to exemption? Read on:

This will lead to the destruction of the well-watered land as well as the dry land. The Lord will not be willing to forgive him. Instead his anger and jealousy will burn against that person, and every curse written in this scroll will descend on him. The Lord will blot out his name under heaven, and single him out for harm… (19b-21a)

If you are a Christian the bar set for obedience isn’t lowered. In fact, God requires more of us. Didn’t Jesus tell us we commit murder if we hate, we commit adultery if we lust?

Dear one, we are not exempt. I hope you’ll read 30:11-20. God hasn’t hidden what he demands. We are blessed when we obey and cursed when we disobey.

…love the Lord your God, obey Him, and remain faithful to him. For He is your life… (30:20a)

We must remain faithful. That means confessing every sin, praying God will create clean hearts in us and renew steadfast spirits in us. It means dying daily, fleeing temptation, and surrendering our stubborn hearts at the earliest sign of rebellion.

God, through Moses, tells us He has put it all out there. He has told us and shown us life and death, blessing and curse. Then He tells us to choose life.

That’s my prayer for all of us today.

(Deuteronomy 20) Some Things Are Hard To Hear

My Apologetics study Bible included an article by Matt Flanagan entitled, “Does The Bible Condone Genocide?” He tells us the ancient writers used “extravagant exaggerations” as was common in literature at the time. Flanagan sites the fact that the Bible reports some of the nations (like Canaan) continued to have citizens even after it tells us they were wiped out. Therefore, the report of the genocide was exaggerated for literatures’ sake.

Which, to me isn’t so much exaggeration as it is disobedience. The Israelites may have wiped out a village or two, but obviously didn’t do a complete job elsewhere. The hard truth is that in Old Testament scripture, God didn’t only condone genocide, He commanded it.

Now, before you get too angry with me, or angry with God, you need to take a look at the whole picture. Here is what seems to be overlooked by some:

When you approach a city to fight against it, make an offer of peace. If it accepts your offer of peace and opens its gates to you, all the people found in it will become forced laborers for you and serve you. However, if it does not make peace with you but wages war against you, lay siege to it. (20:10-12)

Before the Israelites went to war against a city they were to offer a peaceful solution. God wanted those people to come to Him on His terms, and be saved. Their refusal cost them their lives.

There are two things I take away from this today:

  1. God will not demand nor condone genocide after the cross. Jesus fulfilled all the requirements of the Law, and made it plain our enemy is no longer flesh and blood. His kingdom is spiritual. We must protect His spiritual kingdom by eradicating sin from among us with the same completeness the Old Testament Jews were told to eradicate people who rejected God. We will not be commanded to kill people. We are commanded to destroy sin in our lives.
  2. The Jewish people had to fight against Canaanites during their entire existence as recorded in the Old Testament. Had they obeyed, and truly dealt with God’s enemies like He told them to, their lives would have looked a lot different. Better. Peaceful. The same goes for us. How much grief do we face when we simply play around with sin, when we hold on to that sinful thought or feeling, when we aren’t exactly honest, or when we tolerate sin even in small doses? The Canaanites didn’t just go away on their own. And neither does sin.

Yes, it’s hard to even think about the genocide God ordered in the Old Testament. But these were not innocent people. They were people who would rather die in their sin than accept the peace God offered if they’d only surrendered.

That sin you are holding onto isn’t innocent, either.

(Deuteronomy 10) It’s For Your Own Good

Some people have said Christianity has too many rules. Yet these same people will follow a long list of rules every time they get behind the wheel of a car, when they want to keep their jobs, when they commit themselves in marriage to someone, or when they pay taxes, choose not to steal, murder, or destroy property.

I’m very glad people follow rules when I’m on the road. I feel safer knowing people are following rules in my neighborhood. It’s less stressful knowing I can trust someone who is following a set of rules. Rules are in place to make life better, safer, happier.

That being said, the reality is Christianity is NOT merely a list of do’s and don’ts. In fact, Moses tells us in 10:12, there are really only three things God requires of us:

  1. Fear God. Yes, we need to fear God who punishes disobedience without mercy. Moses said we fear, (that word could also be translated “respect,” or “honor”) God when we “walk in His ways.” That means obeying His Laws, of course. If you read the Ten Commandments, you’ll have to admit it’s nearly impossible to perfectly obey them all, all the time. Yet that’s what God demands. Now, here’s the amazing thing about God: knowing we are powerless in and of ourselves to obey His list of rules, He GIVES us the ability to obey. When we accept His grace, the forgiveness of sin Jesus bought for us on the cross, He fills us with Himself and gives us the means to obey Him. We are not at all on our own in this!
  2. Love Him. When you love someone you want to be near them, talk to them, talk about them. You make choices based on your love of them. God wants us to love Him like that. And honestly, once you get to know Him, that’s the easiest thing in the world to do!
  3. Worship the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul. That kind of worship is an emptying of self, an offering of ourselves as a sacrifice to God. It’s laying our health, our family, our present and future at His feet in humble recognition that He is Holy God, Almighty, King of Kings, Creator God, and that He is worthy of our worship.

Now, why did God set down these requirements? Look at verse 13:

Keep the Lord’s commands and statutes I am giving you today, for your own good.

A right relationship with God, rooted in fear, love, and true worship not only honors God, it blesses us beyond imagination.

Follow these three rules. It’s for your own good.