Monthly Archives: October 2017

I Chronicles 17-21; Our Worst Enemy

The Bible spends a lot of time talking about warfare. There are many examples of how to (and not to) fight our enemies. But what if I am my own worst enemy?

Hanun’s dad, King Nahash, died, and Hanun found himself king of the Ammonites. Nahash and David had formed a bond, so David sent a delegation to pay his respects to Hanun in the loss of his father.

How did Hanun receive this kindness? He humiliated David’s men in a most degrading fashion. When David heard what had happened, he didn’t retaliate. He could have taken revenge on Hanun on behalf of the humiliated men. But David’s concern was for the men themselves. Hanun wasn’t even worth acknowledging.

Sometimes ignoring someone who wants an enemy is the best way to handle them. The fact that David ignored Hanun made Hanun look bad. David took the high road and left Hanun alone in the gutter.

Now here’s where Hanun becomes his own worst enemy. He could have allowed David’s actions to convict him, drive him to his knees in repentance, and cause him to ask David and his men for forgiveness. We would be reading a completely different account had Hanun humbled himself.

But he didn’t. He responded to David’s lack of retaliation in anger. How dare he ignore me? Who does he think he is? I’ll show him.

Hanun allowed his pride to take over, and rallied an army against the Jews. A lot of men died as a result. David’s army routed Hanun’s. It didn’t have to be that way.

Dear one, we don’t have to react every time we think someone is unfair to us. Walking away from a conflict isn’t weakness. In fact, very often it is the most daring course of action.

My heart breaks for my great-nieces and nephews as I realize they are growing up in a world of reactionaries. Self absorbed, ego driven, prideful behavior is honored in our society. You get your fifteen minutes of fame if you don’t walk away from a conflict, no matter how wrong you are. The high road, it seems, is for losers.

Sure there is a time to pick up a sword and go into battle. David did that in the chapters we read today. But when I hear God say we are to love our enemies, do good to those who misuse us, pray for those who are unfair to us, turn the other cheek, I don’t believe picking up a sword should be our first response to conflict.

If we allow our pride, or our sense of fairness, or our fragile egos dictate our reactions, we become our own worst enemies. Let’s determine to represent Jesus by living according to His example. Let’s face opposition according to Scripture. How many times do we read to stop, to listen, to just be still, before we read the battle is the Lord’s.

I’m ok with Satan being my worst enemy. I’m not okay with me taking over that role.

 

 

 

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I Chronicles 14-16; The Things We Do For God

David was a man of action. Through his story, we can see that when he was obedient to God his actions were blessed. When David got ahead of God, or disobeyed Him, we see God remove Himself from the situation. There are no blessings there.

I appreciated Warren Wiersbe’s insight on the subject. (With The Word; Thomas Nelson 1991) I’m using his outline from chapter 15 as I share what God has laid on my heart today.

David had gotten excited about returning the ark of God to Jerusalem. He planned a big celebration, including a parade. He got a brand new cart to act as a parade float, and placed the ark up there for all to see. He assembled the band, and headed out with great fanfare (chapter 13).

But David learned doing things his way, even though he meant well, ends in disaster.

So now in chapter 15, David is determined to let God call the shots. “No one but the Levites may carry the ark of God…” because those are God’s rules. There was still a joyful parade, but they had inquired of God first, and God blessed their work. Wiersbe reminds us to “Do God’s Work Biblically.” Sometimes it seems we in 2017 are more concerned about being politically correct than biblically correct. David would tell us that is a recipe for disaster.

Wiersbe also encourages us to “Do God’s Work Joyfully.” 15:16 says “David told the leaders of the Levites to appoint their brothers as singers to sing joyful songs, accompanied by musical instruments: lyres, harps, and cymbals.” Who doesn’t love a parade?

Does what you are doing in God’s name bring you joy? Or is it a burden, done with a hint of resentment? If we are privileged to do the work for our great God, shouldn’t there be joy in the doing? If there isn’t, perhaps you are undertaking  a job meant for someone else. Your joy in the doing might be found in a different task. God loves a cheerful giver, of our money and our time.

Wiersbe looks at verses 25-26 and tell us to “Do God’s Work Sacrificially.” Seven bulls and seven rams were sacrificed during the procession, which probably means the parade took a few steps, then stopped so a sacrifice could be offered. Not exactly convenient if you were a cymbal player wanting to get home in time to see the first pitch of the big game on TV.

Let’s face it, doing God’s work often takes sacrifice, and not just monetarily. I am reminded God’s work required the ultimate sacrifice for my Savior. I think I can afford to miss the first pitch or the whole game if there is something I can be doing for God, and do it without regret.

Dr. Wiersbe points out that we are to “Do God’s Will Fervently.” David and the people held nothing back, were not distracted, and did not care what others thought. They were focused on God, plus nothing. And they didn’t stop until that ark was safely home, work completed.

Ephesians 2:10 tells us “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” We’ve got things to do for God; to share the Gospel, to represent Him to lost souls, to care for the needy, to love our neighbors. The list goes on.

Let’s go about our tasks biblically, joyfully, sacrificially, and fervently for Jesus’ sake and for His glory!

I Chronicles 10-13; Every Good And Perfect Gift

I have always had a problem with the way David treated the water three of his men risked their lives to bring him. David said he was thirsty – maybe he said he was dying of thirst – and three soldiers sneaked into the Philistine camp to draw water from a Philistine well for their king.

You’d think David would be grateful. You’d think, if he couldn’t bring himself to drink it, he’d at least offer it to the men who had just risked their lives to get it. They were probably thirsty, too.

But, no. David pours the water on the ground. I always saw that as disrespectful toward those soldiers… until today when I read Matthew Henry who called it a “drink offering.”

Hello, Connie. Read what’s there in God’s Word. David didn’t simply pour the water out, he poured it out “before the Lord.” He gave the precious gift, that gift obtained at great risk, to God!

So often I find myself thinking I deserve someone’s kindness. I’m a Baby Boomer, after all, and we were raised to believe we deserve the best. We raised our children to believe in the “Me First” philosophy of life, and they raised their children to believe no one else matters, except “Me.” It’s ingrained in us to believe we deserve only good things.

Why didn’t David drink his fill, and reward the men who gave it to him? He was King. Who deserved it more than he? And didn’t the men deserve a little recognition for their sacrifice?

The reason David did what he did is because he was humbled at the gesture. It caused the king to take a closer look at himself. David realized that even he did not deserve it. So he turned around and offered that life-giving gift to God, with thankfulness and praise.

I have a friend who loves to bake. She is also one of the most giving people I know. And occasionally she shows up at my door with a warm loaf of homemade bread. Let me tell you, there is nothing better.

I thank her. I give her a hug. I praise her baking skills, and recognize her generosity. I hope she knows how much her gesture (and the delicious bread) means to me.

But I never considered thanking God for it. James 1:17 tells us “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father…” Now I know this is talking about sin, and salvation, and God’s unchanging nature. But I wonder if it doesn’t speak to what David did here in I Chronicles, too.

Because the reality is everything good in my life is a direct gift from God. And I don’t deserve any of it. Not even that delicious bread. So shouldn’t I, like David, turn around and give God the praise for it all? Shouldn’t I be aware of the many ways God blesses me through the kindness of people around me?

If King David, a man after God’s own heart, was humbled at the kindness of his men, how much more should I be humbled when good things happen to me? I don’t deserve God’s blessings, but I am blessed.

I don’t believe God would have me toss that warm bread into the trash can as an offering to Him. But I wonder if cutting a slice or two and taking it to my neighbor, or giving the whole loaf to someone who is ill, or inviting someone who needs Jesus into my home to share the bread, wouldn’t be a better way of giving it back to God than enjoying the whole thing myself.

I want to pour myself out before the Lord, empty myself of self, and acknowledge that God is the giver of every good and perfect gift, even those that come out of my friend’s oven.

May God be praised.

 

 

I Chronicles 1-9; Everyone Has A Story

It’s taken me a couple days to get through the genealogy listed in these chapters. Name after name of people I know nothing about. But, even thought I am tempted to skim through this section, I read every hard-to-pronounce name, knowing that with it is a story known only to them and God. Each one with hopes and dreams, good times and bad, responsibilities, and temptations. Each one with a relationship with God… or needing one.

It’s kind of like walking through the mall. I walk past dozens of people I know nothing about. But I know each one has hopes and dreams, good times and bad, responsibilities, and temptations. Each person I pass has a relationship with God… or needs one.

I’m convicted that I can pass them by as easily as I can pass over the names in Chronicles.

God, help me see people – really see people – as eternal souls You love, for whom You died to save. Remind me that my smile, or greeting may be the only positive contact they get that day. Forgive me when I avoid eye contact, or dismiss someone because I don’t like how they look. How are they going to know I represent their Savior if I don’t let them see Jesus in me?

2 Kings 21-25; God’s Delight

Jewish history as recorded in the Old testament is full of reports of hard times, disease, wars, famines, slavery. Weren’t these God’s chosen people? Wouldn’t that mean they’d be living on Easy Street?

As I read this morning, my mind kept going to my pastor’s Bible Study from last night’s prayer meeting. We’re going through the Psalms, and last night he spoke on 18:6-19, pointing out three things God delights in:

God delights in our prayers.

God delights in responding to our prayers, answering our prayers.

God delights in me. In you.

So as I read 2 Kings today, it occurred to me that God does NOT delight in punishing His people. Oh, discipline is part of His love for us. He will never turn a blind eye to sin. He rejects those who reject Him.

But He doesn’t like it.

He’d much rather enjoy a relationship with us, pure and holy, as we allow Him to clothe us with Jesus’ purity and holiness, through His blood. When I read the accounts of all the bad kings in Israel, and all the ways God disciplined Israel for disobedience, I find myself feeling bad, not for them, but for God. I’m sorry He had to distance Himself from his disobedient people when He so longed to wrap His arms around them and protect them.

And I am sorry for the times He has had to remove Himself from me because of my own disobedience, for the times I have robbed Him of fellowship with me because of my pride, or my neglect of Him, or some sin I haven’t confessed.

Nothing can separate me from His love. His love is a given. But my sin can separate me from a relationship with the One who loves me and gave Himself for me, from the One who delights in me.

As I thought about last night’s Bible lesson, I was reminded that this month is Pastor’s Appreciation Month, and I hope you make it a point to let your pastors know what it is you appreciate about their ministries. I’ve shared that I am blessed to be a part of two fellowships, one in Georgia, and another in Ohio. And I am blessed to call Pastor Whit and Pastor Bill my pastors.

Both men have blessed me, challenged me, and encouraged me to go deeper into God’s Word through their sermons. Both men have demonstrated examples what it means to be ready and eager to share Jesus with people in our communities.

So, Pastor Bill. I appreciate you. I appreciate your heart for the people of Bellville. I appreciate how much you do for our little fellowship, how available you are, and how true to God’s Word you are. Your time in God’s Word speaks to my heart every time I am privileged to hear you share what God lays on your heart. I pray for you and Kris, and for your ministry. May you see the fruit of your efforts in a mighty way, and may God be glorified. I know that is the prayer of your heart.

Pastor Whit, I appreciate you. You inspire me to find ways to share Jesus. I appreciate how you take us verse by verse through the Bible, even those hard passages. I appreciate how God’s Word excites you. Your enthusiasm is contagious. I pray for you and Wendy and the kids, as you serve our Lord on this island. (I love how you love our island!) And I pray that God will continue to guide you as you lead our fellowship into this building  project. May we not just grow a building, but enlarge the church for Jesus sake. I know that is your prayer, too.

Pray for your pastors, and not just because it’s Pastors Appreciate Month. When I read God’s Word I am reminded how important leadership is, not just in nations, but in our fellowships as well. God blesses obedience. Pray that your pastor will be obedient. God blesses true worship. Pray that your pastor will lead you to worship God in Spirit and Truth. God blesses the humble. Pray that your pastor will continue to humble himself before the Lord. Pray for your pastor’s relationship with God.

Pray that God will use your pastor to speak to your own heart, to encourage your own obedience, to prompt you to share the good news of Jesus Christ with lost souls.

And may our fellowships be those which God can delight in as we pray, as we recognize answers to our prayers and give Him the glory, and as we serve Him out of grateful hearts. Remember God delights in YOU. God wants to bless YOU, God wants to fellowship with YOU. He would rather not have to discipline you.

May we delight in the One who delights in us. He certainly deserves it.

 

 

2 Kings 17-20; Cleaning House

When Hezekiah became king he did some housecleaning. He removed the idols the Jews had been worshiping, including the bronze serpent Moses had made while their ancestors were in the wilderness. Hezekiah didn’t want any trace of any false god in the land.

I never really thought about what that must have looked like to the neighboring nations. They were used to worshiping their “gods” at high places that were everywhere. Now here the Jews were demolishing their high places and limiting themselves to worship only one God, and only in one place. Ridiculous.

The Assyrian king interpreted this as vulnerability (chapter 18), and decided it gave him the means to defeat the Jewish nation. He didn’t understand the action taken by the Jews, because he was interpreting it though blind eyes.

The world is still judging God’s people through blind eyes. They see us obeying God as being judgmental, because they are judgmental. They see our stand against homosexuality as hateful because they are hateful. They see hypocrisy in us because they are hypocritical.

Christian, that’s why we have got to show them through our witness, both verbal and life-style, that they are wrong about us. If we hate homosexuals instead of loving them while hating the sin, we prove them right. If our language is as judgmental as theirs, they are right to call us judgmental. If our lifestyle doesn’t match our profession of faith, we deserve the label hypocrite.

When the Assyrian king tried to bully the Jews into surrender, they didn’t get caught up in a war of words. They didn’t return insult for insult. They kept their mouths shut. Then Hezekiah went to the Lord and allowed God to do His thing.

Non-Christians will continue to misunderstand us Christians until they become believers themselves. May we, as followers of the One True God, remove any visible signs of conformity to the world. May we worship God in Spirit and in Truth, and allow Him to do His thing in and through us. My we love people to the Savior at the same time we are standing on the Truth of Scripture.

In other words, may we do some spiritual housecleaning, and let God remove the world from us, so that the world can see Jesus through us.

2 Kings 14-16; In Deference

As I continue to read through the history of kings, I notice some repeating themes. Like I said the other day, most of the kings follow in their fathers’ footsteps. Good kings influenced good kings, bad kings influenced bad kings.

It seems those who took on the position of a Jewish king may have had a death wish. Whether they reigned two weeks or twenty years, someone was always plotting to kill them and steal the throne.

Good kings followed God in varying degrees. Bad kings didn’t follow Him at all.

We get to King Ahaz in these chapters today. He was not a good king, even though his father Jotham had been. Scripture tells us Ahaz made a treaty with the Assyrians, sworn enemies of God’s people. We read that Ahaz remodeled the Temple, removed the basins, the canopy, and the royal entryway, he moved the walls and the Sea, “in deference to the king of Assyria.”

“When you show deference to someone, you make a gesture of respect. The noun deference goes with the verb defer, which means ‘to yield to someone’s opinions or wishes out of respect for that person.'” (Vocabulary.com)

Has the Church made a treaty with the enemy? Look at what has been removed from our places of worship: altars, pulpits, Bible reading, hymns, organs, steeples, pews, the list goes on. We’ve remodeled our sanctuaries much like Ahaz remodeled his.

I read this invitation this morning: “If you are looking for a spiritual home that is full of love, acceptance of all, and truly tolerant of all beliefs, ask me about…”

I think too many churches have removed sin from their vocabulary, they don’t talk about God’s holiness and His righteous judgment. They’ve removed so much of what makes the Church God’s house, in deference to whom? Non-christians? Christians who want to feel good about going to a Sunday service without the responsibility of living a separate life during the week? Satan?

It’s time to break our treaty with the enemy, and defer to God instead. God who is Holy, Fierce, Unchanging, who went to the cross because of sin; God who accepts those who accept Jesus, and rejects those who reject Him.

Holy God, I thank you for pastors and churches who are standing on the Truth of Scripture. I thank you for congregations of people who are not afraid to resist trends and political correctness. Bless their fellowships in a mighty way. I pray for those who are caught up in the treaty between your people and the enemy. Convict hearts, Lord. Drive us to our knees. And may Your people worship You in spirit and in Truth, according to Your Word. Then, Father, enable us to get out there and do what You intend the Church to do, introduce lost souls to their Savior, Jesus Christ.