2 Chronicles 14-16; Not A Happy Ending

I hate it when a movie or book ends badly. The star-crossed lovers remain star-crossed, or the hero dies, or Rhett walks away from Scarlett. Have you ever wanted to throw your shoe at the TV or chuck your book into the fireplace? I have. In fact, if I wasn’t holding the Holy Word in my hand, I might want to toss it out the window after reading Asa’s story.

Asa, son of Abijah, king of Judah, was a good king. Asa did what was good and right in the eye of the Lord his God. (14:2) And because of his obedience, no one wanted to go to war with him during three years of his reign. God gave Asa and the Jewish nation rest. The blessings of obedience!

But something happened in the thirty-sixth year of his reign. For whatever reason, King Asa struck out alone, forsaking God. Did he get too comfortable in his relationship with God? Did he become prideful? Was Asa more interested in what people thought than what God demanded?

Scripture doesn’t tell us why. It only tells us this man of God chose badly, and paid consequences for it.

Dear one, guard your heart. Listen to what God told Asa, “The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.” (15:2)

Hear him say the same thing to you today.

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2 Chronicles 11-13; Not Blessed

There is a repeated theme in Scripture: Obey God and be blessed. Disobey God and He will remove His blessing.

Rehoboam’s life demonstrates this truth. He and the Jews over which he ruled enjoyed three years of peace and prosperity when they were following God.

But I can almost hear you. “I am a Chrstian. I live for God. I pray. Yet I struggle. Where’s my blessing?”

I’m going to say something you might not want to hear, something you probably already know: God never promised we wouldn’t struggle. In fact, He told us to expect hardship. They hated Him. They persecuted Him. And Jesus said we can expect the same.

Remember our enemy is not flesh and blood. It’s not the landlord who is threatening eviction because you don’t have rent money. It’s not the thug who sells drugs to your daughter, or the boss who refuses to give you the promotion you deserve. Our enemy is Satan who delights in making us miserable.

Satan loves to get our eyes off Jesus, and focused on that person who hurt us, or that difficult situation we are facing. He loves to hear us questioning God, or considering chucking it all and living like the world when the world seems to have it all.

When we read things like Rehoboam’s story we might be tempted to believe a right relationship with God equals easy living. It worked for Rehoboam. Why not me?

Because God wants to give you more than just temporary comfort. What comes out of a right relationship with God? Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self-control.

You can’t buy that stuff.

When you have that precious relationship with God, you have encouragement like what we find in Romans 8:31: If God is for us, who can be against us?

What about Hebrews 13:5? Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

Paul tells us in Philippians 4:19, But my God will supply all your needs according to his riches in glory.

The Bible is filled with promises like these for those of us who have confessed our sin, and accepted Jesus as our Savior and Lord. However, you might be tempted to say, “It’s easy for you to say, Connie. You had money to pay the bills this month.” And I did.

I know many of you are going through unspeakable hardships. Health issues. Money problems. Family heartache. Persecution. And more. I will not promise you that a right relationship with God will erase the troubles in your life.

But I am suggesting that, even in the midst of the darkest days, you are blessed if you know Jesus. Don’t miss it. Don’t allow Satan to steal your joy, or your peace, or your confidence in the One who loves you and gave Himself for you. Don’t let Satan blind you from seeing the ways in which God, who does all things well, is working in your life and is standing with you in your troubles.

And I believe that God will open doors that can bring about a solution to your problem, maybe even perform a miracle on your behalf. You might get an unexpected check in the mail.

Or not. Obedience is not the ticket to getting what you want. It is the ticket to getting what God wants for us.

God delights in blessing us. But He can’t if we hold on to sin. Whether it’s during the days of Rehoboam or today in 2017, obedience = blessed. Disobedience = not blessed.

May we confess our sins, and be blessed.

 

 

2 Chronicles 8-10; Try A Little Tenderness

Rehoboam didn’t inherit the wisdom his father, King Solomon, had possessed. His first act as the newly crowned king of Israel split the nation in such a way that Jews became enemies of Jews. Rehoboam’s actions had consequences that were felt for generations. And it started with a word.

Play the tough guy, Rehoboam, so people respect you. Come down hard so they obey you.

I wonder how Israel’s history would read if Rehoboam had replied to Jeroboam with a little kindness.

I don’t know what position of authority you hold. You might be a preacher, a CEO of a large company, or a small one. You might be the shift manager at a fast food restaurant, a parent, a teacher, the captain of your HS football team. I would suggest we all take a lesson from Rehoboam.

Ruling with an iron fist, making sure people know they are under your thumb, does not encourage loyalty. Oh, they may obey you while looking for another job, or counting the days until they can get out of your house. But rest assured, more likely than not they will leave you the minute they can.

Authority doesn’t have to be mean. Taking a stand doesn’t mean beating people into submission. A person can be firm and kind at the same time.

“You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” Not sure why anyone would go fly-hunting, but I get it. Treat people the way you want them to treat you, goes for the workers and the bosses, the children and the parents, the parishioners and the pastor.

Rehoboam’s story tells me meanness divides. Try a little tenderness.

2 Chronicles 1-7; Temple Building

I understand that the magnificent temple Solomon built for the Lord here in 2 Chronicles stood for a little over 400 years before it was destroyed. For those of us who live in a country about 241 years old, 400 years seems pretty impressive.

But I was in Switzerland a few months ago and explored a building built in 866. It’s still in use today. That’s 1,151 years that structure has been standing. Puts Solomon’s temple in perspective.

What happened? Why couldn’t God protect this amazing temple?

As we continue to read Israel’s history as recorded in Scripture, we’ll find the answer: Disobedience.

It’s not that God couldn’t protect His temple. It’s that He wouldn’t if His people rejected Him. God’s promises for blessing are conditional. (7:19-22)

So, New Testament Christian, how’s your temple? Is it as magnificent, as beautiful in God’s eyes, a place where He delights in dwelling? Or are you beginning to show signs of decay? Is the enemy closing in?

I want this temple called Connie to last for eternity. I want God’s Presence to fill me, and cause me to worship Him with every minute He gives me. I want His Presence to be visible, and point people to Jesus by the way I live, the things I say and do, and by my faith in the Holy God.

May God’s residence on earth, this earthly temple I wear, be fit for the King He is.

I Chronicles 26-29; That’s What Friends Are For

I was reading all the names of David’s chief officers, overseers, and counselors, and was struck that buried in the list of assignments was “the king’s friend.” (27:33) Hushai the Arkite’s position as friend is right up there with Joab, commander of the royal army.

Do you remember Hushai’s story? I went back and re-read 2 Samuel 15-16 and reminded myself that Hushai took on a dangerous assignment when he infiltrated Absalom’s inner circle in order to spy on the son of David, and thwart his attempt to steal the throne away from David. Hushai was that loyal to David. And David trusted Hushai that much.

I can see why David considered Hushai’s friendship an important position in his kingdom.

God has blessed me with some pretty good friendships, too. My forever friends are my sisters. So thankful for their love, and support through the years.

Other wonderful friends have blessed my life for a season, then for various reasons have moved on. I have dear friends in Ohio, and others here in Georgia.

I spent yesterday with four of my friends who live on this island and who worship with me at our church. We went to a quaint little town, browsed the shops, and had lunch. We solved the world’s problems, and laughed like silly school-girls all in one wonderful day. We call ourselves The Fabulous Five, or The Little Old Church Ladies depending on what kind of trouble we’re getting into together. I think yesterday was a fabulous day.

As I think about friendships I find myself considering what these, and other women have to offer me, how they have blessed me, encouraged me, held me accountable. But then God nudged me to consider what kind of friend I am to them.

Do I take more than give? Do I wait for them to call me? Do I go out of my way to stand with them when they need it? How much of myself do I share with them?

God created us to be relational. We are people who need people. (someone should write a song). What a privilege it is to be an extension of God’s love for a friend by loving that friend in a tangible way.

Thank You for friendships, God. I see so many examples in Your Word about the importance of friends. David and Jonathan, David and Hushai, Jesus and John, and Peter, and James, Lazarus, Mary and Martha. Continue to speak to me about my friendships, and help me to be the kind of friend that honors You, and blesses them.

I Chronicles 22-25; Your Serve

I’m on the nominating committee at my church. We are given the responsibility to prayerfully consider our membership and fill all the committees that serve there. From ushers to finance, media to food service, evangelism and youth, we spend a great deal of time talking to people about how they can contribute to the smooth running of our church and its outreach. It’s been an education for me.

Some people are eager to fill positions, others glad to stay part of a committee they already serve. Some take days to pray about it, while others just don’t return calls or emails. Our deadline to submit our nominees for congregational approval is approaching, and I still have one position to fill. Maybe today.

I guess it’s not a surprise, then, that I thought about this as I read these chapters in I Chronicles. David is filling the committees for service at the temple. We don’t read that there was any hesitation on the part of the people. Doesn’t seem like any of them told David they were too busy to serve, or that God wasn’t leading them in that direction. Maybe they did, and we are just reading the completed list of committees as though when approached, all agreed to serve. But I doubt it.

Now I am not discounting busy schedules, or God’s leading. I’m not suggesting you don’t pray about it before committing your time, and in turn, your family’s time. Just don’t use God as an excuse to sit back and do nothing. Don’t make your laziness or disinterest sound spiritual by saying you need to pray about it, then not pray.

Because I can confidently say that if you are part of a church body, and I hope you are, there is something for you to do to keep it going. There is a committee you should be a part of, a responsibility that should be yours.

If you’re worried about a busy schedule, give that schedule to God and see how He can provide. If you think you don’t have what it takes to take on a particular position, let God show you what He can do when you submit to Him. If one committee or responsibility doesn’t fit into your wheelhouse, find another committee that does.

Get involved, dear one. Be a part of the great work God wants to do in your midst.

Your serve.

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.