Tag Archives: obedience

A Godly Leader (2 Kings 22-23, 2 Chronicles 34-35

A godly leader can turn things around. King Josiah was not afraid to stand up and read Scripture to the people. He didn’t send a priest to do it. He did it himself, and the hearts of the people were moved.

Josiah had been confronted with the truth of Scripture, and it broke him. He humbled himself before God, then went on to live the life of a man dedicated to God. But he wasn’t satisfied with a personal experience. He wanted his whole country in on the blessing. So he read them the same Scripture that had spoken to him. Lives were changed.

Oh, for a godly leader in America. I think we have a president who isn’t afraid to stand up to the masses. He says and does what he believes whether or not it is popular with any of us. But wouldn’t it be amazing if President Trump got up and read Scripture at his next press conference? What if his tweets were Bible verses? What if he started standing for right and Truth, and didn’t get into word wars with game players?

Never happen, you might say. But are you praying it will? God’s arm is not too short, nor is He too weak to break the heart of Donald Trump, to do a work in our president’s heart that would turn him into a godly leader.

Are you praying that Donald Trump will accept what Jesus died to give him, then follow the Lord in a pubic, zealous way like King Josiah did? I don’t care if you are a Republican or Democrat. Are you a Christian? Then you should be praying for our president. Remember, God is not going to answer a prayer not prayed, and if we want our country to turn around, we’d better be praying for a godly leader.

 

The Beautiful City Of God (Isaiah 33)

As I read God’s word today, a hymn I have not sung in many years began running through my head. Isaac Watts wrote this hymn, “We’re Marching To Zion,” in the 1600’s!

Come, we that love the Lord, And let our joys be known;
Join in a song with sweet accord, Join in a song with sweet accord,
And thus surround the throne, And thus surround the throne.

Let those refuse to sing who never knew our God;
But children of the heavenly King, But children of the heavenly King,
May speak their joys abroad, May speak their joys abroad.

The hill of Zion yields a thousand sacred sweets,
Before we reach the heavenly fields, Before we reach the heavenly fields,
Or walk the golden streets, Or walk the golden streets.

Then let our songs abound and every tear be dry;
We’re marching through Emmanuel’s ground, We’re marching through Emmanuel’s ground,
To fairer worlds on high, To fairer worlds on high.

CHORUS:
We’re marching to Zion, Beautiful, beautiful Zion
We’re marching upward to Zion, the beautiful city of God.

Isaiah talked about this beautiful city, my future home:

The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high; He will fill Zion with justice and righteousness. He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure. (33:5-6)

I’m thinking about Zion this morning. That peaceful abode, a tent that will not be moved…

There the Lord will be our Mighty One. It will be like a place of broad rivers and streams. (33:21a)

Isaiah told us in verse 6 that the key to this treasure is in fearing God. Fearing Him. Scripture often tells us that fearing God involves respecting Him, taking Him seriously, obeying Him, longing for Him, seeking Him, humbling ourselves before Him.

Are you marching to Zion? Not just drifting, not just wandering blindly. Are you marching with purpose, clothed in Jesus’ righteousness and donned with the armor of God?

Left. Right. Left. Right. Keep marching toward that beautiful city of God where we will spend eternity in the Presence of our Creator, our Savior!

 

You Can’t Have Children (Hosea)

When I started to read the book of Hosea today, my mind went immediately to the Church in 2020. It’s easy to see the connection between Israel and the Church; blessed yet unfaithful, ignoring God’s laws yet claiming to be His children.

But I didn’t get very far before I felt God nudge me. “I have something to say to you today, Connie, about your own walk with Me. This is not about “them.” I’m talking to you.”

Reading Hosea’s words is not fun when you look at it like that. It speaks to me about my own fickleness. It points out my tendency to listen to other voices besides God’s, to get along with the world rather than obeying Him. I remember times I sowed “the wind and reap(ed) the whirlwind.” There is a lot, sadly, in the lives of the Jews during Hosea’s time that I can see in me.

But what stood out to me this morning is found in 9:11-13. Verse 10 is such a tender expression of love. I hear God say that when He looks at me it’s like finding a grape in the desert, early fruit on a fig tree. It’s that “apple of His eye” thing. God adores me.

But then He challenges my commitment to Him. Israel flat out worshiped Baal. I don’t flat out deny God. Yet there are times when I don’t block out the call of the world, times when I might ignore a sin, or rationalize a sin (which are forms of idolatry and adultery in my relationship with Him).

And God tells me if that is the case, my glory will fly away. No births, no pregnancy, no conception.

No problem! I’m way beyond child-bearing years. But that’s not what He’s talking about. And what He is talking about should drive me to my knees.

God is speaking to me about spiritual children, those I could introduce to their Savior.  Read this chapter in that light and I think it will break your heart.

I have known women who long for children, who go to desperate measures to conceive. And I’ve seen the agony when time after time, their greatest desire is not realized. I’ve seen the crushing blow hit when they are told they will never have their own children. It’s a pain that is often inconsolable.

Now God is telling me I’ll never have children. If I allow my relationship with Him to weaken, my glory, my ability to shine the light of Jesus will fly away, and I will not have any part in the salvation of another soul. Does my reaction to that news mirror that of a woman unable to conceive a child? Am I inconsolably devastated at the idea of never leading someone to Jesus?

I should be. And so should you.

Seriously? (Isaiah 5-8)

Do we really think we have better ideas than God’s? Are we foolish enough to believe our plans are good and fair, and God needs to get on board?  We can fight our own battles, but Isaiah warns us that we will be fighting against God. Do we honestly think we’ll win?

God has a solution for all the bad things in the world. He has the means for turning evil hearts into holy hearts. He’s provided a way to change hate into love:

The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (7:14)

God with us!

God has the answer to all that is wrong in our world. He sent His Son to BE the answer!

If I have a medical question, I don’t go to a two-year-old for answers. If I need advice I don’t ask an infant what he thinks I should do. Yet we are acting equally irresponsible when we listen to the advice and follow the plans of our fellow, fallen, sinful man. Whether it’s the CDC, Black Lives Matter, Joel Osteen, Oprah Winfrey, Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Lebron James, or any number of “experts” in all that is wrong with the world, we are asking two-year-olds to solve our problems.

There is only one answer. There is only one plan that will see success. There is only one person’s advice that is worth listening to.

Read your Bible. Get to know the Answer. Follow His Plan. Obey God and see our world change.

Do you think you have a better idea? Seriously?

 

What About Today? (2 Chronicles 26)

I don’t care who you are, or how kind and giving you’ve been, or even if you have done great things in the name of the Lord. Sin is sin. And all sin comes with consequences. My sin. Your sin.

We see King Uzziah, a good king who obeyed God. During his reign Judah was blessed because of their obedience as they followed the king. People had jobs, the building industry was booming, the army was strong and well equipped, and Uzziah’s fame spread far and wide.

But as so often happens with us humans, Uzziah’s pride led to his downfall. Instead of being humbled by God’s blessings, the king became proud. And his sin led him to be unfaithful to God. I hope you’ll read God’s Word today and see what happened to him.

God didn’t give Uzziah a free pass just because he had obeyed God in the past. Uzziah sinned. And God punished the sin.

I was at a friend’s house yesterday and she had a plate of fresh fruit for us to nibble on. Colorful melons, plump, juicy grapes, tangy apples, berries that popped with flavor in my mouth. It was so refreshing on a 92 degree day in Pennsylvania.

Today I thought about that fresh fruit. It came at the hard work of farmers who planted and nourished and weeded and then harvested each melon, each bunch of grapes, each berry. Someone washed, then pealed, and cut the fruit she’d bought and displayed them on a serving platter. The end result of all that work was not only beautiful, it was so good!

But if you hid one rotten grape in the midst, one imperfect apple, one molded berry, it wouldn’t take long for that fresh fruit to rot, too. All the good work of those farmers wouldn’t prevent the fresh fruit from being ruined by just one rotten grape.

It’s interesting that if you put a healthy apple in a barrel of rotten ones, the barrel doesn’t become healthy. But if you put a rotten apple in a barrel of healthy ones, you’ll have a barrel of rotten apples in no time.

That’s like sin. The good things we did in our past, the times we were obedient to the Lord, brought us blessings at that time. Those blessings might still be felt years later. That’s how God works. But if you sin today, if you don’t obey God today, July 8, 2020, you will have put a rotten apple in your barrel of blessings.

The good king, Uzziah, died a leper. He was excluded from worshiping in God’s House toward the rest of his life, and couldn’t even be buried with the other kings because he’d been unclean. God did not give him a free pass just because he had been obedient in the past. Uzziah sinned that day, and didn’t deal with his sin.

So God did.

The same is true for each of us. My prayer is that all of us will deal with our sin problem today. Every time God brings a sin to our awareness, I pray we will fall on our knees and ask Him to forgive us. I pray that we will never be satisfied living with a sin, even just one.  Because one sin not confessed is a rotten apple that cannot help but spread.

You’ve been obedient in the past? Good! What about today?

Do We Want His Help? (2 Chronicles 24-25)

It might have seemed logical for Israel and Judah to join forces against a common enemy. After all, they were family, all descended from Grandpa Abraham. And besides, isn’t there strength in numbers?

But God sent a message to the king of Judah:

O king, these troops from Israel must not march with you, for the Lord is not with Israel – not with any of the people of Ephraim. Even if you go and fight courageously in battle, God will overthrow you before the enemy, for God has the power to help or to overcome. (25:7-8)

God was against Israel because of their sin. He would not go to battle for them, and if Judah aligned with them, God would not go to battle with Judah, either. I think there is something in here for us today.

No matter on which side of the political aisle you sit, I imagine we all can agree our nation is in serious trouble. I think it’s time we figure out where God’s loyalties lie and align ourselves up to Him instead of a political party or ideation, because God alone has the power to help us or overcome us. Only with God can we hope to be on the winning side of this national crisis.

So where do God’s loyalties lie? First of all, He is loyal to Truth. Absolute, unchanging Truth as recorded in the Bible. Truth, by definition is true 100% of the time. Opinion is just opinion, even if it is dressed up as “my truth.” What is true for you and not true for me is not true unless it is true in Scripture. It is crazy to suggest otherwise. It’s dangerous and divisive to believe otherwise. God will not bless multiple “truths.” He is loyal to Truth. Period.

Secondly, God is loyal to people who obey Him. If you read Scripture you can know exactly what is expected of God’s children. You will read the blessings that come through obedience, and the consequences for disobedience. God doesn’t demand we be politically correct. He demands we obey Him no matter what.

And God is loyal to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus, God’s Son, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, the name above all names, the only One who saves. That Jesus. God is loyal to all who accept Jesus as their Savior. We who have that relationship through the blood of Jesus know we are on the ultimate winning side.

Are we ready to shed ourselves from allies God cannot and will not go to battle with? Hear Him say to the nation of Judah as though He were talking to us, that even if we align ourselves with the enemy and fight valiantly, sincerely, and courageously, we will lose.  God is very upfront about that. It’s His way or devastation.

“For God has the power to help or to overthow.” Do we want His help? I guess we know what we have to do.

Turning Our World Upside Down (Proverbs 19-21)

So often we do things without considering the consequences. We act and react in the moment, or we make decisions based on how we are feeling, or how we hope it will make us feel. And often, we live to regret it.

Solomon had a lot to say about that in his proverbs.

If you lie, you will be punished. If you don’t work, you will go hungry. Abusing alcohol leads a person on a wrong path. Laziness leads to poverty.

But there are also proverbs that assure us:

He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; he who cherishes understanding prospers. (19:8)

If you are kind to the poor, God will bless. If you listen to advise, you will become wise. If you fear the Lord, you will have life. If you lead a righteous life, your children are blessed.

We would be wise to read the proverbs and apply them to our own lives here in 2020. I believe our world would turn upside down if Christians lived the wise, loving, obedient, caring, righteous lives Solomon prescribes.

Leading By Example (I Chronicles 29)

I believe the best leaders are those who lead by example. The “Do as I say, not as I do” mentality cannot result in good leadership; not in a home, in a church, or in a nation.

I was reminded of that when I read verse 9 today.

The people rejoiced at the willing response of their leaders, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the Lord. David the king also rejoiced greatly.

David himself had dug deep into his own pockets and gave generously to the cost of building the temple of the Lord. The other leaders had followed his lead freely and wholeheartedly. It was a cause for great rejoicing among them all.

David said something in his prayer that is a good reminder. In verse 14 the king prayed:

But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. (emphasis mine)

I love that. Anything and everything we have is loaned to us by God, making us able to use those things for His glory. It’s a humbling thought, that God would entrust His riches to me.

So, what kind of example am I of this truth? Do I give my time and my resources (both of which are gifts of God)? Do I give generously, knowing what a privilege I have to use what God has given me for His glory?

And this is what is convicting me today: is my example one that inspires others to give generously of their own time and resources? Do I even want others to give with the same attitude I have, the same level of commitment, the same generosity? Or do I want them to do more than me, be better, more generous givers, more committed than I am?

Now, who is willing to consecrate himself today to the Lord? (verse 5b)

I want my answer to be a resounding: ME!!!

 

Snap To It (2 Samuel 19-21)

David gave Amasa a position of great power. “May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if from now on you are not the commander of my army in place of Joab.” (19:13) With that word, Amasa became the most powerful man in Israel, second only to King David.

But we really don’t read much about Amasa’s role as military leader. In fact, his first and only mission was an epic fail. And really, what David told him to do shouldn’t have been that difficult for the commander:

“Rally the troops! Get the men together and get back here in three days.”

Granted, they didn’t have phones back then. There was no texting or social media, no TV or even snail mail to get the message to soldiers sitting at home. I can see that it would take some coordinating effort and time to get the word out, then for the men to gather.

But Scripture tells us Amasa “took longer than David had set for him.” (20:5) So the king put the army under Abishai’s command, and set them out to battle instead. He wasn’t about to lose a war waiting for Amasa to do his job.

I don’t know why Amasa didn’t meet his deadline. Were the men resistant? Was he so inept he couldn’t get organized in time? Or did he simply not take David’s time frame seriously? Does is matter?

Well, I think it matters a great deal in my life. There are things my King would have me do in this war against His enemy. I’m wondering if I see my response to God in Amasa’s response to David.

God lays on my heart a person whose heart is ready to hear the Gospel. How quick am I to respond? Do I find myself thinking I’ll get around to it eventually? Do I tell myself I don’t know what to say? Do I shrink back at a little resistance? Do I not feel the same urgency God feels for that eternal soul?

God nudges me toward a ministry, toward teaching Bible study, toward serving in the nursery, or mowing my neighbor’s lawn. Do I snap to it? Or do I drag my feet, hoping maybe God was just making a suggestion?

In the account we read here in 2 Samuel, David appointed someone else to do Amasa’s job. And, seriously, there have been times when in the back of my mind I think if I don’t go, God is going to send someone else anyway. Whew! Ball’s in their court.

Amasa’s failure at the task that was given put him in a position that cost him his life. That’s a bitter pill to swallow. God may give my assignment to someone else, but there are consequences for blowing off the King.

Besides, I want to look at God’s commands, those nudges into service, as a privilege to serve my King. I love Him so much I want to obey with enthusiasm and do the best job at whatever He is asking me to do because He deserves my 100% effort. Why would I want anyone else to have the blessings that are mine as an obedient soldier in His army?

This is war. When my King gives me a command, I want to snap to it.

No, Thank You (2 Samuel 7; I Chronicles 17)

When you love someone, do you find you can’t do enough for that person? You sacrifice, take a back seat, go out of your way to find tangible ways to express how totally and completely you love them. You’d do anything.

I think that’s how David loved God.

But how do you feel when the person you love politely tells you, “No, thank you,” when they don’t accept the gift, or tell you they don’t want your sacrifice?

David was excited about building a beautiful temple for the Presence of God. The ark had been housed in a tent, and David wanted to build a house fit for the King of Kings. Nothing would be too extravagant for the One David loved.

I imagine old David stayed awake at night, going over floor plans, arranging furniture, placing and re-placing doors and windows in his mind’s eye. It was the least David could do for the God who meant so much to him. I think David was excited about the possibilities.

But God politely refuse the offer. David heard His Beloved say, “No, thank you.”

David’s response? “Ok. Thanks.”

You see, David’s love for God wasn’t about David. David wasn’t looking for recognition or appreciation. He wasn’t looking to make a name for himself as the builder of God’s Temple. The gift David wanted to give God was totally and completely about God. So when God refused to accept it, David didn’t take it personally. It wasn’t personal.

Makes me question my offering to God, my service to Him, my sacrifice for Him. Am I motivated by what blessings are mine when I do great things for Him? Do I put God under obligation to do something great for me in return? If that is the case, then I will be disappointed, hurt, maybe jealous when I don’t get what I think I deserve.

But if my service to God is like David’s, I’ll continue to serve, to give God my very best, to find tangible ways to show Him how much I love Him with no regard for myself, no selfish agenda. I will be just a woman who can’t do enough to show my Beloved how much I love Him, even if He politely refuses my offer or accepts my actions without giving back in-kind.

I want to, like David, give it all to God without expecting some big reward. Because the reality is, God has already given me much more than I deserve.

He gave me Jesus, the tangible expression of His amazing love. And believe me, that is one Gift you’ll never hear me say, “No, thank you,” to!!!