Archive for June, 2016

A future without trouble (Obadiah; Psalm 82-83)

June 30, 2016

Saviors shall go up to Mount Zion
    to rule Mount Esau,
    and the kingdom shall be the Lord‘s. Obadiah 21

There are moments when I like to turn to Revelation 21 and 22 to simply remind myself of “a future without trouble.”  Yes, when the Lord returns he will rule and reign in a New Heaven and a New Earth without trouble.

This very truth encourages my heart in a world filled with trouble.

Brothers and sisters, this was the ultimate encouragement given by the Prophet Obadiah in his one chapter prophecy.  We know little of who this prophet was.  His name simply means, “servant of the Lord.”  He speaks during a time when Israel is being oppressed by the Edomites (descendants of Esau, Genesis 27).  We do not know to which time of the oppression God is referring, but we know God has promised a day when Israel will be free from these who troubled her.

I love R.C. Sproul’s commentary:  “In this promise, Judah found hope for a future without Edomite persecution.  Here also the church finds hope for the future when the kingdoms of the world become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, Rev. 11:15.” Cited from Pg. 1284, “Reformation Study Bible.”

Psalm 82-83 speaks of the power of this King who sits enthroned in the heavens.  He will come and give justice to His people.  This is the future without trouble.

Allow me to give you three reasons to rejoice toward the future:

  1. The day of persecution has come, John 16:1-4.  Rejoice for the Lord’s coming is near.
  2. The day of visitation is coming, I Peter 2:12.  Rejoice because the Lord will deliver all who belong to Him. Psalm 82-83.
  3. The day of judgement will usher in the eternal reality of a world without trouble. Revelation 21-22.

I want to challenge you to read the passages cited above.  As you read them, take great joy in what is ahead!!!

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We are glad he is gone (II Chronicles 19-22)

June 29, 2016

20 He was thirty-two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. And he departed with no one’s regret. They buried him in the city of David, but not in the tombs of the kings. II Chronicles 21:20

I can’t imagine someone saying of a family member, “I am glad he is gone.”  What kind of life would a person have to live to cause someone to make such a statement?  I do not know the answer to the question in regard to most people.  However, I believe Scripture is clear concerning one man.

Before I get too far ahead of myself, let me back up and bring you into context with today’s readings.  The Chronicler of Israel is placing before us the record of both Israel’s and Judah’s kings.  In our readings for today we read of two types of leaders:  1. Godly leaders 2. Ungodly leaders.

  • We read about such Godly leaders as Jehoshaphat, chapters 19-20.

This leader has the following resume: He destroyed idols and sought the Lord, 19:3; He instituted fair judgment, 19:5-7; He appointed Godly priest and Levites, 19:11; He relied on the Lord, 20:12; He saw a national miracle; 20:24; and he had rest in his nation, 20:25.  We can say of his ministry:  “He was a great blessing.”  When he died, “people mourned his passing.”

  • We read about such ungodly leaders as Jehoram, chapter 21.

This leader was just the opposite of Jehoshaphat.  He walked in the ways of men. He caused his people to sin so greatly that God send an opposing army to plague them.  This leader developed a chronic disease that lead to a terrible time of suffering all the way to the end of his life.  When he died, “No one cared that he died.”  Ouch!!!

Brothers and sisters, “This is greatly troubling to me.”  When I consider my life, I want to know that I (through Christ) impacted people for His glory.

How can we do this, in Christ.  I believe the Apostle Paul gave us a clear clue:

27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control,[a] lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. I Corinthians 9:27

As we focus on living and growing in Christ, we are effective in Christ.  Be assured, people will miss you when you are gone.

The best way to destroy your life (I Kings 22; II Chronicles 18)

June 28, 2016

“So the king died and was brought to Samaria.  And they buried the king in Samaria.” I Kings 22:37

Sometimes I read the obituary of a famous person with an enquiring view of one thing, “how did he or she live their life?”  I think that many of us never really consider the story of our lives until it’s too late.  This morning I was challenged by the concluding chapter in King Ahab’s life.  I believe the story of his life teaches us the best way to destroy ones life.  Here are five ways, from his life, that will destroy your life:

  • Seek those things that do not belong to you, 22:1-3.  Here we see the king going to war for something he wanted.
  • Seek advice from people who will not tell you the truth, 22:6-7. Ahab aligned himself with yes people instead of wise people.
  • Ignore the wisdom of people who will speak the Word of God into your life, 22:8-10.  Ahab refused to listen to the true prophet of God.
  • Engage in conflict despite the wisdom of others who say, “Do not do it.” 22:17-18.
  • Serve false God’s instead of the true and living God, 22:53.

Ahab’s son followed in his footsteps!!!  And if you and I do not heed the warnings, we will also destroy our lives.  Here is what the Bible records about his son:

53 He served Baal and worshiped him and provoked the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger in every way that his father had done.

 

This day, my mind was directed to the New Testament wisdom of Peter in I Peter 5:6-8

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

As we heed Peter’s wisdom we discover how to live a victorious life.  May this be the story of our lives!!!

A Fatal Decision (I Kings 20-21)

June 27, 2016

“…And Ahab said, ‘I will let you go on these terms.” So he made a covenant with him and let him go.” I Kings 20:34b

A few weeks ago a small child was killed by an alligator at the famed Disney park.  The American public was outraged at what many called the negligence of the father who was unable to pull his child away from certain death.  My heart breaks for the family and their loss.  One thing is for certain, “the father made a fatal decision in allowing his child to wade in the water.”

Question:  “Have you and I ever made a fatal decision?”  The obvious answer would be, “Certainly not,because I would not be reading this if I had made a fatal decision.”

Your response is true in human terms, but would the response be possibly different if God were involved in the fatal decision?

Consider our reading for today.  We find ourselves reading about the life of one of Israel’s most wicked kings, “King Ahab.”  Ahab was a man who, “without doubt,” was the most wicked king in Israel’s history, I Kings 21:25-26.

In chapter 21 we read of two great victories in Ahab’s life.  Why did God do this?

  • So that Ahab would know that God is real, 20:13.
  • So that Syria would know that God is God in every place, 20:28.

Pay close attention here.  God gives grace to a wicked man.  But, when the second battle is over King Ahab makes a fatal decision.  He choses to allow Syria’s king to live.  This was King Ahab’s fatal decision, 20:40-41.

Pay even more close attention.  The scene shifts in 21:1-16. This wicked man does even more wickedness with the help of his wife.  He cuts off the future of one man.  What happens next is even clearer in our eyes, “another fatal decision has been made.” Vs: 17-24.

Remember our earlier question: “Have you and I ever made a fatal decision?”  Ahab has made two of them in chapters 21-22.

Now a strange twist comes:  21:27-29

27 And when Ahab heard those words, he tore his clothes and put sackcloth on his flesh and fasted and lay in sackcloth and went about dejectedly. 28 And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, 29 “Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the disaster in his days; but in his son’s days I will bring the disaster upon his house.”

“God extends mercy and grace to the most wicked man of his day.”

This is amazing news for sinners who make fatal decisions.  This is glorious news for people who respond correctly to God’s mercy and grace. Here is how Paul describes this in Romans 2:4:

Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience,not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

The only way to survive a fatal decision is through repentance.  Question:  “Are you on the verge of a fatal decision?” If so, repent while there is time.  Have you made a fatal decision? If so, repent at the knowledge of God’s grace and mercy being extended.  If you have lived beyond a fatal moment, “rejoice this day in all God had done for you!!!”

Divided leaders; divided nation; destruction ahead (I Kings 12-14)

June 22, 2016

12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
    the people whom he has chosen as his heritage! Psalm 33:12

Imagine if the title of today’s blog was the headlines in every evening news broadcast.  The above headlines come from our reading of I Kings 12-14.  The nation of Israel has moved from a united nation with one King to a nation with two kings and neither of them being the Lord.

How could this be?  Here are a few things we gather from the text:

  • Rehoboam refused to serve his people.  Instead he wanted to serve himself, I Kings 12.

This clearly opened the door for the enemy to walk through with a leader they thought would serve them, but he also was only out for himself, 12:33.

  • Jeroboam lead his people to worship other Gods. 14:9
  • Rehoboam lead his people to live like the nations that had previously occupied the land, 14:24.

The most tragic indictment given by the Lord was when he said, “You have cast me behind your back.”  

Bottom line: “They deliberately turned away from God and lived as if he did not exist.”  The writer of Psalms gives this warning, “Mark this, then, you who forget God, lest I tear you apart, and be none to deliver,” Psalm 50:23

Israel’s only hope of adverting certain destruction was to return to the Lord.  This would demand a leader who would turn and a people who would turn!!!  We will have to read on in God’s Word to see if it happened.

All of this leads me to draw this one simple comparison to our time.  It seems to me that there are many nations that could have the same headlines in their nations as did Israel with hers.

Today, I leave you with this challenge:

  1. Pray for the leaders of your nation, I Timothy 2:8.  “May their hearts be turned to God.”
  2. Pray for the people of your nation, II Chronicles 7:14, “May their hearts repent and turn to God.”
  3. Pray for your own heart, I Peter 2:1-3., “May your heart be totally God’s.”

What do you need? (Proverbs 30-31)

June 21, 2016

7 two things I ask of you;
    deny them not to me before I die:
Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
    give me neither poverty nor riches;
    feed me with the food that is needful for me,
lest I be full and deny you
    and say, “Who is the Lord?”
or lest I be poor and steal
    and profane the name of my God. Proverbs 30:7-9

When someone cares about your time of need, they will often ask, “What do you need?”  So many times I have asked this question to members of my flock, simply because this is what God has called me to do.

Question: “What do you need?”

This question seems to have been asked to writer of Proverbs 30 between verses 6-7.  His response to the question is simply in asking for two things:

  • I need the Word of God.

The only way false hood and lying could be removed is if the Word of God is placed before it.  The Word of God reveals all lies and it proves itself to always be true, Vs: 5.  You and I can always trust the Word of God.  God’s Word shields us from the frontal attacks of our enemy.

Jesus said in Matthew 24:35, “Heaven and earth may pass away but His Word will never pass away.”  It always stands the test of time.  “Lord I need your Word.”

  • I need the provision of the Lord.

God leads the writer to understand the inability of humanity to understand its own needs verses wants.

We are given to our wants instead of our needs.  We are given to strive for wealth and we are given to even take what belongs to someone else.  This is a vicious trap according to Paul in I Timothy 6:9-10 “we pierce ourselves trough with many sorrows.”

The writer knows, “I need to focus on what God knows I need.”

Everything in this life eventually fades and is gone, I Peter 1:23-25.  Only God’s Word endures the test of time.  Father, this is what we need today!!!  May we seek it with all of our hearts!!!

The world at your feet (I Kings 10-11; II Chronicles 9)

June 20, 2016

“And the whole earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his mind.” I Kings 10:24

Imagine having everything you ever wanted in this world. It is something, that for me, has little value in God’s spiritual development of my life.  But there was a time, before God’s sanctifying work, when I would have been all into the world being at my feet.

Here in I Kings 10 we see the world at the feet of Solomon and his nation.

  • The queen of Sheba comes to know the blessings were totally God’s doing, 10:9.
  • The whole world sought an audience with Solomon thinking he was the key to blessing, 10:24.
    • But the writer of Scripture helps us to see, “it was all God’s doing.”

In this moment, most do not see the red flag being waved.  Most just continue in the blessings of what they have, not realizing they are slipping from the banks of faith out into the choppy waters of materialism.  Most do not see the hurricane of worldliness that will sweep them away from loving the Lord.

Question:  “What would you do if the world was at your feet?”

Here is what Solomon did:

  1. He ignored Scripture by marrying many wives, Deut. 17:17.
  2. He ignored Scripture by embracing the gods of these wives, Ex. 34:14; Josh. 23:12-13.
  3. He turned away from God and built altars to other Gods, Ex. 20:4.

In this moment we see the tragedy of what most do when the world is placed before their feet, I John 2:15-17.

Be assured judgment is coming when we place the world before God, Ex. 20:3-5.

Maybe you are thinking, “I must be okay because God is not judging me now.”  Think about Solomon:

  • God have great grace in giving him time to repent, but he did not.  Check out I Kings 11::11
  • God judged those who came behind him.  His sin had great effect on others, I Kings 11:11-12.

At this moment I want to weep because of Solomon’s failure.  I want to weep because of my own past failures.  But I find myself being turned to a dim light, 11:36 “there is a lamp.”  That lamp is Jesus Christ who came to liberate me from the bondage of worldliness.”   Today, I see what is truly valuable, Matt. 13:44-46.

I pray, when the world is at your feet, you turn your eyes upon Jesus and your goal to reach the world.

Government, Armageddon, and no hope (Proverbs 27-29)

June 17, 2016

When the righteous triumph, there is great glory,
    but when the wicked rise, people hide themselves.
13 Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
    but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.  Proverbs 28:12-13

Another day of either watching the news or staying away from the news.  In the United States we are in a presidential election year.  The state of our nation is one in which it is very discouraging.  What hope is their for a nation that seems to be finding itself being led by a government that is directing us toward Armageddon?

These things were on my mind as I approached another day coming to the book of Proverbs.  Chapter 27:1 met my weary eyes with a rush of spiritual water in the eyes.  Immediately I was wide awake as I consider this truth:  “It is by God’s grace that I have arrived at another day on planet earth.”  How often do I fail to give God thanks for His grace in my life.  I thought of our nation which assumes we are blessed because God has not judged us for our rebellion.  But oh how quickly things can change, Luke 12:19-20.

Think through Solomon’s teaching concerning any nation that fails to honor God”

  • The government has led us to a shameful place where Christians are at best looked down upon.  28:12 “But when the wicked rise; people hide themselves.”
  • The government is leading us toward certain destruction.  29:2 “When the wicked rule, people groan.”
  • The government is leading us to the point of no return. 29:25, “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.”

Yes, I admit, “government in America reflects only the will of the people.”  Sadly we see little hope in this world.  But there is one place where there is great hope.  Yes, we have great hope in Christ.

“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell.[a] Yes, I tell you, fear him!  Lk. 12: 4-5

28 Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Luke 21:28

Brothers and sisters, we do not have to fear, our hope is in Christ.  Let us give ourselves totally to the work of the good news, “Jesus is coming again!!!”

The importance of taking away (Proverbs 25-26)

June 16, 2016

Take away the dross from the silver,
    and the smith has material for a vessel;
take away the wicked from the presence of the king,
    and his throne will be established in righteousness. Proverbs 25:4-5

Recently a friend commented about an email correspondence he had with a friend we both have.  The email was basically a wonderful complement to the friend with a question about a topic at the end.  Here was the response of the friend, “Thank you.”  Very quickly the friend realized his friend had only skimmed the email.  It happens to all of us in a busy society.

I thought, as I was writing the title for this blog: “I hope people really look close today.”  Our topic is not, the importance of getting away, but it is the importance of taking away!!!

We are in Proverbs 25-26 today.  Keep in mind this fact, Proverbs are simply illustrations placed beside of a truth to help amplify the truth.

For me personally 25:4-5 leaped off the pages of Scripture.   2 illustrations are laid beside truth:

  1. The refining process for silver illustrates our need for spiritual refining in the Lord.

2. The removal of wickedness from the king’s heart illustrates our desperate need for a new heart.

One has to personally take off the old life that he or she was characterized by before Christ.  One has to personally surrender to God’s cleansing and redemption to be saved.  Paul illustrates this in II Timothy 2:20-21

20 Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable,[a] he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.

Through the Proverbs I was reminded of two actions I need to do every day:

  1. I need to be thankful  for God’s cleansing of my soul.

I could never thank the Lord enough for His work of wiping my slate clean, Colossians 1:14.  I could never praise Him enough for making this unrighteous man righteous, II Corinthians 5:21.  I could never share Him enough for what He has done for me, I Peter 3:15.

2. I need to daily refine my walk with Christ.

Each day you and I are called to work on our sanctification, Philippians 2:13-14.  I have to do more than skim the top because the old nature is always trying to get to the top.

I hope you will fill your day with these same two actions. To God be the glory.

Chronicling your own life (I Kings 9; II Chronicles 8)

June 15, 2016

“And the Lord appeared to Solomon a second time, as He has appeared to him at Gibeon.” I Kings 9:2

When one studies the Old Testament books of I and II Kings as well as I and II Chronicles he or she might get the feeling that God is just repeated Himself or He is trying to write additional pages to fill in the required number for a book.  However, we know this is not the case.

The books of Kings tell us the story of Israel’s kings, often both the good and bad are placed before us.  The books of Chronicles does the same but with the added theological significance of leading Israel to look to God for their hope of redemption and restoration.  Someone said this to me years ago, “If you do not learn from your history, its mistakes will be repeated in your lifetime.”

Today, we are brought back to Solomon’s story.  His story has three parts:

  • We see Solomon as the king in both residence and royalty, Vs: 2.

Everything Solomon desired became his.  This happened because God chose to bless his life, I Kings 3:5.

  • We see Solomon as the king who is both reflecting and responsible, Vs: 3-9.

God challenges Solomon:  If you will both love and obey me, I will continue to bless you and your people.  However, if you decide to cease loving and obeying me, I will bring you to a place of ruin.

  • We will soon see Solomon as the king who rebels and ruins his nation, Vs: 9.

Solomon will allow other things to take his heart and the heart of his people away from God.  When this happens judgment is coming.

Question:  “Do you see yourself at any part of Solomon’s story?”  I pray the king (Jesus Christ) is in residence presiding as royalty (Lord) over your life.  I pray the King (Jesus Christ) is leading you to reflect (Study His Word) and to live responsibly (live out His Word) every day.

Question:  “Do you see our leaders and our nation at any part of Solomon’ story?”  Sadly, we are in the place of rebellion and soon coming ruin.  God helps us to pray for forgiveness and God help our leaders to bow the knee before the Lord before His comes, Philippians 2:9-11.