Tag Archives: daily walk

Ezra 1-3; Getting Our Priorities Straight

This was a great time in Jewish history. After 70 years of captivity, they were going home. King Cyrus gave them the go-ahead to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. He even provided much of what they needed to get the job done. Over 40,000 people packed up their things for the long, happy journey.

I love that the first thing they did upon arriving in Jerusalem, was to repair the altar. And as soon as they could, they began using it for the sacrifices they had so long been unable to make.

They repaired that altar, even though they had a bit of fear concerning the people around them. But they did not let their fear paralyze them. They celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles, offered the regular burnt sacrifices, the New Moon sacrifice, and all the sacrifices for all the sacred feasts. Plus freewill offerings! That altar got a workout. And all of this happened before the temple foundations was even laid.

I like this example. It demonstrates the priorities that we should have when doing God’s work. How many good projects fail when God’s people get ahead of Him? We are excited to get started on that building project, or that outreach program, or hiring a pastor. But we don’t spend a lot of time dealing with the sin in our own lives, worshiping God and praising Him for who He is, and seeking God’s direction first.

The Jews in Ezra took two years at that altar before going ahead with the building project. Two years before the temple foundation was even laid.

We are a people who demand instant gratification. It’s hard to wait, even for the light to change. But so often in Scripture God tells us to wait, to be still, to seek His kingdom, to hear from Him.

Let’s face it. We like to win. We like to be the first church in town with a state of the art sound system, or the catchy named coffee shop in our foyer, or the satellite site, the largest sanctuary, anything that will make us stand out as THE church.

None of those things are necessarily bad. But I wonder if sometimes we get focused on the project, and forget to wait for God’s direction before jumping in. I wonder if our projects are counter-productive when we allow sin to go unchecked in our hearts, if we don’t wait on God’s timing and direction.

Do we want God’s blessings on our efforts? Whether it’s the events of our day, or a major decision we must make, or a big project in our churches, I would suggest we follow the example here in Ezra.

Spend time… a lot of time… at the altar; wait on God… no matter how long it takes; then follow his lead and get busing doing what He asks. That seems to me what getting our priorities straight looks like.

 

 

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2 Chronicles 21-24; The Reign of Joash

What do you read? Who do you listen to? Where are you on Sunday mornings? The answers to these questions are extremely important.

Joash did a lot of good as king of Judah. He rebuilt the temple, returned the people to worshiping God, destroyed the temple of Baal and killed Baal’s priest. There was quite a revival among the Jews during the first years of Joash’s reign. During those years the king stayed close to Jehoiada, the priest of God. He listened to Jehoiada’s counsel, and did good in the eyes of the Lord.

But Jehoiada died. And things went downhill from there. Joash stepped out on his own, and sin reared its ugly head.

Is there someone in your life who holds you accountable in your walk with the Lord? Someone who prays for and with you, someone with whom you talk about what God is teaching you, then checks to be sure what you are learning is true according to Scripture? Are you in God’s Word every day, reading and listening as you pour over its precious pages? Do you stand with a congregation of people each week, serving and worshiping God as He deserves?

Or do you think you can live this Christian life on your own? If that is your attitude, I would challenge you to read Joash’s story here in 2 Chronicles, then rethink your position. Good things happened as long as Joash was partnering with a godly man. Read for yourself what happened when the king lost that influence.

As I was writing this, the thought occurred to me that I have the responsibility and the privilege of being a Jehoiada to someone else. It’s a two way street. I need someone who will keep me in check, and I need to reach out to someone who needs me for the same reason.

May all of us walk in Truth, hand in hand, strong and determined to be the Church God wants us to be.

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.

 

 

 

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 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 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 11-13; As His Father Did

As we are introduced to one king after another in the northern and southern kingdoms of the Jewish nation, we are told whether they were good kings or bad. And very often we find out whether or not they followed in their fathers’ footsteps.

There are a lot of things about my own dad I would like to exhibit in my life. His quick wit and generosity, his love of God’s creation and his sense of adventure. But there are also some things I don’t want to model, like his quick temper and critical spirit.

When I take inventory of myself, I see a lot of Dad in me, both the good and the bad. It makes me stop and consider what influence I am having on the little ones in my life. Would it be a good thing or a bad thing if they did as Aunt Connie did?

One of my nephews has a birthday today. He’s a daddy himself, with four precious children who will have to decide one day whether they want to  follow in his footsteps or not. I hope they choose to be like their father who loves God and follows Him unashamedly. Happy birthday, Ryan. I have tears of joy in my eyes as I remember the past thirty something years, watching you grow into the man you are today. I wonder what kind of influence I have been on you, your brothers and sister, your cousins, and now the next generation of people I love with all my heart.

When I read about Elisha here in 2 Kings I see the kind of influence I’d like to have myself. Elisha was a godly man, a man who never compromised his faith, a man everyone knew as a man of God. And when Elisha died, his influence didn’t die with him. Touching Elisha’s bones brought life.

I have Steve Green’s “Find Us Faithful” running through my head.

You see, this life I’m living isn’t just about me. In fact, it’s not about me at all. As a Jesus follower, my life is about Him, and the impact I have on my world in His Name. It’s living a life that would inspire my loved ones to live lives doing what is “right in the eyes of the Lord” because they saw that in me.

Even after I am gone, I want the fire of my devotion to continue to light their way, my footprints to lead them to believe in Jesus as their Savior.

I hope you’ll go to You Tube and listen to “Find Us Faithful” today. May it be the prayer of your heart, as it is the prayer of mine. And may we live lives that would please God if our children did as their father or mother or aunt did.

My dear Heavenly Father, thank you for my parents and the influence they still have on me today, years after they’ve gone to live with you. God, I want to be gentle like my mom, to pray like she prayed, to love You like she loved You. I want to be self-sacrificing like Dad was, and to be uncompromising in my belief the way he stood firm. God, I want my love for You to translate into something my nieces and nephews want for themselves. And I pray my sweet great-nieces and nephews will see Jesus in me, and be drawn to You. Find me faithful, Lord. Find us all faithful.