Monday, June 30, 2008

Miracle in the Wilderness

June 30: 2 Chronicles 19-23

1 After this the Moabites and Ammonites, and with them some of the Meunites, came against Jehoshaphat for battle.

3 Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. 4 And Judah assembled to seek help from the Lord; from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.

5 And Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court, 6 and said, “O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you. 7 Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? 8 And they have lived in it and have built for you in it a sanctuary for your name, saying, 9 ‘If disaster comes upon us, the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before you—for your name is in this house—and cry out to you in our affliction, and you will hear and save.’ 10 And now behold, the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom you would not let Israel invade when they came from the land of Egypt, and whom they avoided and did not destroy— 11 behold, they reward us by coming to drive us out of your possession, which you have given us to inherit. 12 O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

15 And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God's. 16 Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz. You will find them at the end of the valley, east of the wilderness of Jeruel. 17 You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’

18 Then Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord, worshiping the Lord.

22 And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed. 23 For the men of Ammon and Moab rose against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, devoting them to destruction, and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they all helped to destroy one another.

24 When Judah came to the watchtower of the wilderness, they looked toward the horde, and behold, there were dead bodies lying on the ground; none had escaped.
2 Chronicles 20:1, 3-4, 5-12, 15-18 & 22-24

Miracle in the Wilderness

Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, brought about many reforms in the land and encouraged people to trust in the Lord. Now, the true test comes to Jehoshaphat; when a large multitude from neighboring lands rose up against Judah. How did he respond?

It is one thing to be a leader and to encourage others to follow the Lord, but what do you do when trials come to you? Do you turn to the Lord for help, or do you go elsewhere? How did Jehoshaphat react?

3 Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. 4 And Judah assembled to seek help from the Lord; from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.

Read the prayer of Jehoshaphat recorded in verses 5-12 above; what a glorious testimony of the king's faith in God!

God did not wait long to respond; he sent a prophet with these words,

“Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God's. 16 Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz. You will find them at the end of the valley, east of the wilderness of Jeruel. 17 You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’

Read verse 24, When Judah came to the watchtower of the wilderness, they looked toward the horde, and behold, there were dead bodies lying on the ground; none had escaped.

This same God is our God! We are so small in faith; we find it difficult to trust ourselves to the Lord. Instead we try to do everything we possibly can to solve our problems, and then, when we are out of ideas we turn to the Lord.

As you think of this Miracle in the Wilderness, pray that you will pray first when difficulties arise; then follow the leading of the Lord to work out a solution. Remember, God leads us in many ways by opening or closing doors of opportunities. If a door opens, walk through it; if a door closes, understand God's hand in directing your life.

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Prophecy of Micaiah

June 29: 1 Kings 22 & 2 Chronicles 18

5 And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “Inquire first for the word of the Lord.” 6 Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said to them, “Shall I go to battle against Ramoth-gilead, or shall I refrain?” And they said, “Go up, for the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.” 7 But Jehoshaphat said, “Is there not here another prophet of the Lord of whom we may inquire?” 8 And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord, Micaiah the son of Imlah, but I hate him, for he never prophesies good concerning me, but evil.” And Jehoshaphat said, “Let not the king say so.”

13 And the messenger who went to summon Micaiah said to him, “Behold, the words of the prophets with one accord are favorable to the king. Let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak favorably.” 14 But Micaiah said, “As the Lord lives, what the Lord says to me, that I will speak.” 15 And when he had come to the king, the king said to him, “Micaiah, shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall we refrain?” And he answered him, “Go up and triumph; the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.” 16 But the king said to him, “How many times shall I make you swear that you speak to me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord?” 17 And he said, “I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd. And the Lord said, ‘These have no master; let each return to his home in peace.’” 18 And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Did I not tell you that he would not prophesy good concerning me, but evil?”

26 And the king of Israel said, “Seize Micaiah, and take him back to Amon the governor of the city and to Joash the king's son, 27 and say, ‘Thus says the king, “Put this fellow in prison and feed him meager rations of bread and water, until I come in peace.”’” 28 And Micaiah said, “If you return in peace, the Lord has not spoken by me.” And he said, “Hear, all you peoples!”
1 Kings 22:5-8, 13-18 & 26-28

Prophecy of Micaiah

Jehoshaphat, the King of Judah, and Ahab, the King of Israel, made a treaty together and joined their armies to fight against Syria. Jehoshaphat served the Lord and asked Ahab to consult the Lord concerning the battle. Being servants of Ahab, the prophets that Ahab brought out spoke of great victories in battle, but Jehoshaphat said, "Is there a prophet here who fears the Lord?"

Look at Ahab's answer, “There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord, Micaiah the son of Imlah, but I hate him, for he never prophesies good concerning me, but evil.”

This reminds me of a passage in 2 Timothy 4:3-4, For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

What kind of Bible do the ungodly want to hear? What happens to Christians when they wander away from the Lord in sin? The ungodly want a Bible that will make them feel good about themselves; they will not endure sound Bible teaching. Even Christians who have wandered away from the Lord will often turn away from the truth and wander off into false teaching.

Ahab was a man who lived life according to his own passions; he did not fear the Lord. Therefore, he did not want to hear the truth spoken by his prophets. Poor Micaiah! He was in a lose, lose situation. He must speak the truth because he feared the Lord, but he knew it would bring about the king's wrath.

For the true believer, there is no fear of what the Bible teaches. The more understanding we gain from the Word of God, the more we love God and desire to fellowship with Him. In the day we live, however, people have itching ears; they do not want to hear about the justice of God, but only the love of God.

We must be careful that we do not fall into the same trap. Read the Word daily; take time to pray and fellowship with the Lord. Learn the truths about the nature of God, both of His love and His justice. Pray that God would make you faithful when times come that you must make an unpopular stand for the Lord; pray that your words would be like the faithful prophecy of Micaiah, even if it costs you your life.

Those are hard words, but we are entering a time when it is going to be more and more common for Christians to suffer for their faith. But, we have a kingdom waiting for us that will endure forever!

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Grace of Grace

June 28: 1 Kings 20-21

13 And behold, a prophet came near to Ahab king of Israel and said, “Thus says the Lord, Have you seen all this great multitude? Behold, I will give it into your hand this day, and you shall know that I am the Lord.”

The Syrians fled, and Israel pursued them, but Ben-hadad king of Syria escaped on a horse with horsemen. 21 And the king of Israel went out and struck the horses and chariots, and struck the Syrians with a great blow.

23 And the servants of the king of Syria said to him, “Their gods are gods of the hills, and so they were stronger than we. But let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they.

28 And a man of God came near and said to the king of Israel, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Because the Syrians have said, “The Lord is a god of the hills but he is not a god of the valleys,” therefore I will give all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the Lord.’”

Let us [Ben-hadad and his servants] put sackcloth around our waists and ropes on our heads and go out to the king of Israel. Perhaps he will spare your life.” 32 So they tied sackcloth around their waists and put ropes on their heads and went to the king of Israel and said, “Your servant Ben-hadad says, ‘Please, let me live.’”

42 And he said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Because you have let go out of your hand the man whom I had devoted to destruction, therefore your life shall be for his life, and your people for his people.’” 43 And the king of Israel went to his house vexed and sullen and came to Samaria.
1 Kings 20:13, 20b-21, 23, 28, 31b-32 & 42-43

27 And when Ahab [Elijah the prophet condemned him for allowing Ben-hadad to live] 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.”
1 Kings 21:27-29

Grace of Grace

Take the time to read today's entire reading; it will give you greater insight into the character of Ahab, King of Israel, and the wondrous grace of God.

Remember, Ahab was a very wicked king who served the prophets of Baal rather than the God of Israel. In spite of this, God gave Ahab victory when the Syrians came up against him in battle. God sent a prophet to Ahab so that he would understand that it was God who defeated the Syrians.

The Syrians who had outnumbered the Israelites knew that God had fought for the Israelites, so after their defeat, they determined that God must only be a God of the hills.

“Their gods are gods of the hills, and so they were stronger than we. But let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they."

God sent a prophet to King Ahab with these words, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Because the Syrians have said, “The Lord is a god of the hills but he is not a god of the valleys,” therefore I will give all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the Lord.’”

This time God gave Ben-hadad, the captain of the Syrians into the hand of King Ahab, but Ahab did not kill him, but foolishly made a truce with him.

God sent Elijah to Ahab condemning him for allowing Ben-hadad to live.

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.

What was God's response?

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.”

Look at God's reaction to Ahab; oh the grace of grace that can come only from the Lord. Here was one of the most wicked kings who ever lived, and yet God brought mercy on him when He humbled himself before the Lord.

Do you think your sins are too great for God to have mercy upon you? God sent His only Son to save a people for himself. Did any one of these people deserve to be saved? No, not one! Go to God, humbled yourself before Him, and seek the salvation He has given to us through the blood of Christ. He alone will show you the grace of grace as He pours His mercy upon you and grants to you eternal life.

What an amazing God we have!

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Elijah and Ahab

June 27: 1 Kings 17-19

1 Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.” 2 And the word of the Lord came to him: 3 “Depart from here and turn eastward and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. 4 You shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” 5 So he went and did according to the word of the Lord. He went and lived by the brook Cherith that is east of the Jordan. 6 And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook. 7 And after a while the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land.
1 Kings 17:1-6

1 After many days the word of the Lord came to Elijah, in the third year, saying, “Go, show yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain upon the earth.” 2 So Elijah went to show himself to Ahab. Now the famine was severe in Samaria.

17 When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” 18 And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you have, and your father's house, because you have abandoned the commandments of the Lord and followed the Baals. 19 Now therefore send and gather all Israel to me at Mount Carmel, and the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel's table.”

41 And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink, for there is a sound of the rushing of rain.” . . . And he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot and go down, lest the rain stop you.’” 45 And in a little while the heavens grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode and went to Jezreel.
1 Kings 18:1-2, 17-19 & 41-45

1 Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” 3 Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.
1 Kings 19:1-3

Elijah and Ahab

If you have ever been under the impression that you have the ability to convince someone to become a Christian, you need to consider the story of Elijah and Ahab. Ahab was the prophet Elijah's chief nemesis.

It all seemed to begin when Elijah went to Ahab, King of Israel, and told him that a drought was coming to the land of Israel that would last for several years. Ahab, of course, blamed Elijah for the drought and sought to kill him, but God preserved Elijah's life, so that no matter where they searched in all of Israel, the prophet could not be found.

After three years, God told Elijah to go to Ahab with the news that the drought was coming to an end. Ahab was a witness to Elijah's testimony that it was God who had withheld the rain, and it was God who would again bring rain upon the land.

Look at the words of Ahab when he saw Elijah, "Is it you, you troubler of Israel?"

Elijah challenged Ahab to a duel; Ahab's prophets of Baal against God. It was an impressive event, recorded in 1 Kings 18:20-40. All of the efforts of the Baal worshipers was to no avail, but after drenching the altar with several barrels of water, Elijah called upon the Lord God to send fire upon the altar. God not only sent fire upon the altar, but the fire licked up all of the water in the trenches surrounding the altar.

Look at the miracle of God that Ahab had witnessed, and yet there was another one to come. Ahab observed the hand of God again when Elijah prayed that God would send rain upon the earth.

After all of this, one would assume that Ahab would fall before the Lord God and serve him! It did not happen that way; Ahab hurried on his chariot to go to Jezebel, his wife, and complained against Elijah. Verse 2 tells us, Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.”

It is hard to understand hearts that have been hardened against the Lord, even when they see His works displayed before them every day in the lives of His servants. Nothing we can do will ever convince them to change their minds, but God can!

We tend to think of prayer as a last resort, but prayer for the unsaved is the first step! Understand that it is God who opens hearts to receive Him. Amazingly, God uses our lives and words as a testimony before them to bring them to Him, but the spoil is the Lords!

The story of Elijah and Ahab, as well as all of the deeds of Elijah are worth taking the time to read in their entirety. God is so good in His faithfulness to men, especially by granting salvation to His people.

What an amazing God we have!

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Good King Bad King

June 26: 1 Kings 15:25-16:34 & 2 Chronicles 17

Kings of Israel

25 Nadab the son of Jeroboam began to reign over Israel in the second year of Asa king of Judah, and he reigned over Israel two years. 26 He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and walked in the way of his father, and in his sin which he made Israel to sin.

33 In the third year of Asa king of Judah, Baasha the son of Ahijah began to reign over all Israel at Tirzah, and he reigned twenty-four years. 34 He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and walked in the way of Jeroboam and in his sin which he made Israel to sin.
1 Kings 15:25-26 & 33-34

8 In the twenty-sixth year of Asa king of Judah, Elah the son of Baasha began to reign over Israel in Tirzah, and he reigned two years.

10 Zimri came in and struck him down and killed him, in the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah, and reigned in his place.

12 Thus Zimri destroyed all the house of Baasha, according to the word of the Lord, which he spoke against Baasha by Jehu the prophet, 13 for all the sins of Baasha and the sins of Elah his son, which they sinned and which they made Israel to sin, provoking the Lord God of Israel to anger with their idols.

15 In the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah, Zimri reigned seven days in Tirzah.

23 In the thirty-first year of Asa king of Judah, Omri began to reign over Israel, and he reigned for twelve years; six years he reigned in Tirzah.

25 Omri did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and did more evil than all who were before him. 26 For he walked in all the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and in the sins that he made Israel to sin, provoking the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger by their idols.

29 In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab the son of Omri began to reign over Israel, and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years. 30 And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord, more than all who were before him.
1 Kings 16:8, 10, 12-13, 15, 12, 25-26 & 29-30

King of Judah

Jehoshaphat his son reigned in his place and strengthened himself against Israel. 2 He placed forces in all the fortified cities of Judah and set garrisons in the land of Judah, and in the cities of Ephraim that Asa his father had captured. 3 The Lord was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the earlier ways of his father David. He did not seek the Baals, 4 but sought the God of his father and walked in his commandments, and not according to the practices of Israel. 5 Therefore the Lord established the kingdom in his hand. And all Judah brought tribute to Jehoshaphat, and he had great riches and honor. 6 His heart was courageous in the ways of the Lord. And furthermore, he took the high places and the Asherim out of Judah.
2 Chronicles 17:1-6

Bad King

Six kings reigned in Israel from the time of Asa's reign to the beginning of Jehoshaphat's reign in Judah. They reigned for as little time as 7 days to 24 years; everyone of the kings of Israel was evil in the sight of the Lord, each one being more evil than the ones before them.

Did they not know about the Lord? Were they not warned that God would judge them for the evil they were doing among the people of Israel?

1 And the word of the Lord came to Jehu the son of Hanani against Baasha, saying, 2 “Since I exalted you out of the dust and made you leader over my people Israel, and you have walked in the way of Jeroboam and have made my people Israel to sin, provoking me to anger with their sins, 3 behold, I will utterly sweep away Baasha and his house, and I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat.
1 Kings 16:1-3

After the kingdoms split, Israel never had a good king! Rarely did sons of kings reign after their fathers because God would rise up a conspirators against the kings, because of their sins, who would murder everyone in the king's family including relatives, servants, and friends. It was not a good time for the split nation of Israel.

Good King

In contrast, Jehoshaphat became the fourth King of Judah after the tribes split; like the three before him, Jehoshaphat served the Lord. Look how God blessed his reign.

3 The Lord was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the earlier ways of his father David. He did not seek the Baals, 4 but sought the God of his father and walked in his commandments, and not according to the practices of Israel. 5 Therefore the Lord established the kingdom in his hand. And all Judah brought tribute to Jehoshaphat, and he had great riches and honor. 6 His heart was courageous in the ways of the Lord. And furthermore, he took the high places and the Asherim out of Judah.

10 And the fear of the Lord fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that were around Judah, and they made no war against Jehoshaphat.
2 Chronicles 17:3-6 & 10

What an individual does has a great effect on those around him, but for a ruler of a kingdom the entire kingdom suffers or enjoys the blessings of God according to the heart of the king.

Here we are in the 21st century. How can the lives of these seven kings be of any importance to us?

Has God changed? Christianity is a religion of the heart; from the heart of the king who trusted in the Lord came blessings sent from God. Do our actions save us? No, nothing we can do or say could save us from the corruption of sin in our hearts; only the blood of Christ can pay for our sins. But, as we trust the God of our salvation with our whole hearts, He becomes Lord and King over us; our actions change because we love Him. That sets up a chain reaction, so that all those around us are blessed as well.

Does that mean that nothing bad will ever happen to true believers? No, God allows many troubles to come upon us to test us and to show those around us that our faith does not rest upon the blessings God sends, but rather on Christ alone. He also allows us to experience His grace by giving us peace as we "walk through the valley of the shadow of death."

Good King Bad King! Which one are you?

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Battle is the Lords

June 25: 1 Kings 15:1-24 & 2 Chronicles 13-16

Abijah


Now there was war between Abijah and Jeroboam. 3 Abijah went out to battle, having an army of valiant men of war, 400,000 chosen men. And Jeroboam drew up his line of battle against him with 800,000 chosen mighty warriors.

12 Behold, God is with us at our head, and his priests with their battle trumpets to sound the call to battle against you. O sons of Israel, do not fight against the Lord, the God of your fathers, for you cannot succeed.”

13 Jeroboam had sent an ambush around to come upon them from behind. Thus his troops were in front of Judah, and the ambush was behind them. 14 And when Judah looked, behold, the battle was in front of and behind them. And they cried to the Lord, and the priests blew the trumpets. 15 Then the men of Judah raised the battle shout. And when the men of Judah shouted, God defeated Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah. 16 The men of Israel fled before Judah, and God gave them into their hand.
2 Chronicles 13:2b-3 & 12-16

Asa

8 And Asa had an army of 300,000 from Judah, armed with large shields and spears, and 280,000 men from Benjamin that carried shields and drew bows. All these were mighty men of valor.

9 Zerah the Ethiopian came out against them with an army of a million men and 300 chariots, and came as far as Mareshah. 10 And Asa went out to meet him, and they drew up their lines of battle in the Valley of Zephathah at Mareshah. 11 And Asa cried to the Lord his God, “O Lord, there is none like you to help, between the mighty and the weak. Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this multitude. O Lord, you are our God; let not man prevail against you.” 12 So the Lord defeated the Ethiopians before Asa and before Judah, and the Ethiopians fled.
2 Chronicles 14:8-12

The Battle is the Lords

Our reading today covers the reign of two kings of Judah, Abijah and Asa. What kind of kings were they? Here is what the Bible tells us about Abijah in 1 Kings 15:3.

And he walked in all the sins that his father did before him, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father.

Asa, however, was a king who sought the Lord for most of his days.

And Asa did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, as David his father had done.
1 Kings 15:11

Though these two kings were opposite in many ways, they both trusted in God when armies much larger than theirs came upon them. Even though Asa did not follow the Lord with his whole heart, He sought God's help when Jeroboam, king of the Israelites, came to fight against them. When the Ethiopians, with an army of over a million men and 300 chariots, came to fight against Asa, Asa cried to the Lord his God, “O Lord, there is none like you to help, between the mighty and the weak. Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this multitude. O Lord, you are our God; let not man prevail against you.”

Sadly, at the end of a long reign in which Asa served God and brought great religious reforms to the land, he forgot the lessons that God had taught him earlier. When Baasha, King of Israel, came to war against him, Asa turned to the Syrians for help rather than the Lord. God sent Hanani, the seer, with these words.

“Because you relied on the king of Syria, and did not rely on the Lord your God, the army of the king of Syria has escaped you. 8 Were not the Ethiopians and the Libyans a huge army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet because you relied on the Lord, he gave them into your hand. 9 For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him. You have done foolishly in this, for from now on you will have wars.”
2 Chronicles 16:7b-9

How do the lives of these two kings affect us?

We all face battles! They may come in the form of illnesses, family problems, marriage problems, money, problems in our employment, and even problems in the church. This same God who came to the aid of Abijah and Asa when they cried out to Him for help, will also come to our aid today.

The Battle is the Lords. Pray that every aspect of your life, including the thoughts and intents of your heart, would be totally given over to Christ.

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.
2 Chronicles 16:9

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Shaken Country

June 24: 2 Chronicles 10-12

13 And the priests and the Levites who were in all Israel presented themselves to him from all places where they lived. 14 For the Levites left their common lands and their holdings and came to Judah and Jerusalem, because Jeroboam and his sons cast them out from serving as priests of the Lord, 15 and he appointed his own priests for the high places and for the goat idols and for the calves that he had made. 16 And those who had set their hearts to seek the Lord God of Israel came after them from all the tribes of Israel to Jerusalem to sacrifice to the Lord, the God of their fathers. 17 They strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and for three years they made Rehoboam the son of Solomon secure, for they walked for three years in the way of David and Solomon.
2 Chronicles 11:13-17

1 When the rule of Rehoboam was established and he was strong, he abandoned the law of the Lord, and all Israel with him. 2 In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, because they had been unfaithful to the Lord, Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem 3 with 1,200 chariots and 60,000 horsemen.

5 Then Shemaiah the prophet came to Rehoboam and to the princes of Judah, who had gathered at Jerusalem because of Shishak, and said to them, “Thus says the Lord, ‘You abandoned me, so I have abandoned you to the hand of Shishak.’” 6 Then the princes of Israel and the king humbled themselves and said, “The Lord is righteous.” 7 When the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, the word of the Lord came to Shemaiah: “They have humbled themselves. I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance, and my wrath shall not be poured out on Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak. 8 Nevertheless, they shall be servants to him, that they may know my service and the service of the kingdoms of the countries.”
2 Chronicles 12:1-3a & 5-8

A Shaken Country

We know that Rehoboam made some very foolish decisions early in his reign that led to the division of the Israelites into Israel, with 10 tribes, and Judah, with 2 tribes. But, what kind of king was Rehoboam?

Jeroboam, king of Israel, in his zeal to remove himself as far from God as possible, expelled all of the Levitical priests from his land. These priests, along with the people from the 10 tribes who purposed to be faithful to the Lord, came to Jerusalem to live. We are told,

They strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and for three years they made Rehoboam the son of Solomon secure, for they walked for three years in the way of David and Solomon.

This should have been solid evidence to Rehoboam that God would bless him if he was faithful to the Lord. However, once his kingdom was established and they were obviously being blessed by God, Rehoboam turned his heart away from the Lord. It was not very long until God sent this message to the king by the hand of Shemaiah, the prophet.

"You abandoned me, so I have abandoned you to the hand of Shishak."

Wisely, the king and the people humbled themselves before the Lord. How did God respond? Did he cause the king of Egypt to change his mind and not attack Judah? God said,

“They have humbled themselves. I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance, and my wrath shall not be poured out on Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak. 8 Nevertheless, they shall be servants to him, that they may know my service and the service of the kingdoms of the countries.”

Has God changed? Was this just the way He was during Old Testament times? Does He still judge the nations through wars and natural disasters?

A Shaken Nation

Our God is unchangeable in all of His ways; do not think He has abandoned this world and overlooks the sins of the nations. When nations which formerly served the Lord faithfully abandon Him, they should not be surprised by an increase in tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, flooding, and terrorist attacks!

A Shaken People

What about individual people? God is long suffering, and often we do not see an immediate reaction from the Lord for our unfaithfulness, but His justice always prevails. Just as David and Rehoboam, even though they repented of their sins, suffered God's judgment upon their kingdoms and their personal lives, so too, we should not be surprised when God's heavy hand of justice comes upon us.

The Christian life is serious business; God is not mocked by our apathy or indifference to His Word. Pray today that God would grant to you that sweet, blessed, communion with Him and grant to you the joy of your salvation.

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Monday, June 23, 2008

A Kingdom Divided

June 23: 1 Kings 12-14

1 Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had come to Shechem to make him king. 2 And as soon as Jeroboam the son of Nebat heard of it (for he was still in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon), then Jeroboam returned from [1] Egypt. 3 And they sent and called him, and Jeroboam and all the assembly of Israel came and said to Rehoboam, 4 “Your father made our yoke heavy. Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke on us, and we will serve you.” 5 He said to them, “Go away for three days, then come again to me.” So the people went away.
6 Then King Rehoboam took counsel with the old men, who had stood before Solomon his father while he was yet alive, saying, “How do you advise me to answer this people?” 7 And they said to him, “If you will be a servant to this people today and serve them, and speak good words to them when you answer them, then they will be your servants forever.” 8 But he abandoned the counsel that the old men gave him and took counsel with the young men who had grown up with him and stood before him. 9 And he said to them, “What do you advise that we answer this people who have said to me, ‘Lighten the yoke that your father put on us’?” 10 And the young men who had grown up with him said to him, “Thus shall you speak to this people who said to you, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but you lighten it for us,’ thus shall you say to them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father's thighs. 11 And now, whereas my father laid on you a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.’”
12 So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king said, “Come to me again the third day.” 13 And the king answered the people harshly, and forsaking the counsel that the old men had given him, 14 he spoke to them according to the counsel of the young men, saying, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.” 15 So the king did not listen to the people, for it was a turn of affairs brought about by the Lord that he might fulfill his word, which the Lord spoke by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat.
1 Kings 12:1-15

A Kingdom Divided

In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon said, "There is nothing new under the sun." Did you think that rebellion of the youth was a thing reserved for our time alone? Solomon had built up the greatest kingdom on earth, which was now handed over, in all of its glory, to his son, Rehoboam. When the people, led by the traitor, Jeroboam, approached Rehoboam with a question, whose advice did Rehoboam follow?

The people of Israel complained about the harshness of Solomon's rule, and asked the king to lighten their load. The old men who had been advisers in the court of Solomon advised the king to deal with the people kindly, and speak good words to them.

"If you will be a servant to this people today and serve them, and speak good words to them when you answer them, then they will be your servants forever.”

Then Rehoboam asked the counsel of his friends, the young men in the court; their advice was quite different.

“Thus shall you speak to this people who said to you, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but you lighten it for us,’ thus shall you say to them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father's thighs. 11 And now, whereas my father laid on you a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.’”

Oh how youth is wasted on the young! It has always been a wonder to me that after we have learned so many lessons the hard way, we are not able to pass that wisdom on to our children. Oh, they do listen to some things, but for the most part, like us, they have to learn it all the hard way.

You know the rest of the story; displeased with Rehoboam's answer, all the tribes except Judah and Benjamin rebelled against Rehoboam and made Jeroboam their king.

I would be remiss if I did not make mention of this one sentence at the end of today's Bible passage.

So the king did not listen to the people, for it was a turn of affairs brought about by the Lord that he might fulfill his word, which the Lord spoke by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat.

I am reminded of this verse in Proverbs.

The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.
Proverbs 21:1, King James Version

Though we make our plans, we never thwart the will of God; as God had purposed to tear apart the kingdom, so he accomplished it through the foolishness of Jeroboam. Did God cause Jeroboam to be so foolish? No, He just did not prevent him from making a foolish decision.

God is God, and we are not!

God Bless You,
Linda

Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Oracle of Agur

June 22: Proverbs 30-31

1 The words of Agur son of Jakeh. The oracle.

The man declares, I am weary, O God;
I am weary, O God, and worn out.
2 Surely I am too stupid to be a man.
I have not the understanding of a man.
3 I have not learned wisdom,
nor have I knowledge of the Holy One.
4 Who has ascended to heaven and come down?
Who has gathered the wind in his fists?
Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is his name, and what is his son's name?
Surely you know!

5 Every word of God proves true;
he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
6 Do not add to his words,
lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.

7 Two things I ask of you;
deny them not to me before I die:
8 Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
9 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 30:1-9

Oracle of Agur

I am concentrating today's devotion on Proverbs 30; I have already written a devotion on Proverbs 31, called What is a Virtuous Woman? which appears on my website. I encourage you to read that devotion as well.

Proverbs 11 was written by Agur, who was certainly a man of great humility! As I read verses 1-3 I thought, "This is a person I can really identify with." It seems that the older I get, and the closer I get to the Lord, the more I see my own sin and unworthiness, and the more I become weary of life!

Yet, look at what this man who is, "too stupid to be a man" declares in Proverbs 30. His words are neither stupid nor do they show a lack of wisdom!

I think that Proverbs 31:7-9 are some of the most wise and provocative words in the Bible.

7 Two things I ask of you;
deny them not to me before I die:
8 Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
9 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
.


Unfortunately, we do not often find ourselves praying such a prayer; we do not want to be satisfied with just having enough. We certainly do not want poverty, but neither do we want to be satisfied with having just barely enough to get by.

We look at the rich and say, "I want to be like that person." Was it a sin for Solomon to be rich? No, God proclaimed Solomon's riches to be a blessing as a gift from Him. Solomon's downfall did not come because he was rich or because he was wise. Solomon's downfall came because his heart was turned away from the Lord.

That is exactly what Agur is addressing; he is saying, "Please, Lord, do not give anything to me that would tempt my heart to turn away from you."

Take the time and read the entire Oracle of Agur found in Proverbs 31, and then pray that God would give you a heart for Him, and that nothing would come your way that would tear your heart away from God.

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Heart Grew Cold

June 21: 1 Kings 10-11 & 2 Chronicles 9

1 Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, 2 from the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the people of Israel, “You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love. 3 He had 700 wives, princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart. 4 For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. 5 For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. 6 So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and did not wholly follow the Lord, as David his father had done. 7 Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem. 8 And so he did for all his foreign wives, who made offerings and sacrificed to their gods.

9 And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice 10 and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods. But he did not keep what the Lord commanded. 11 Therefore the Lord said to Solomon, “Since this has been your practice and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant. 12 Yet for the sake of David your father I will not do it in your days, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son. 13 However, I will not tear away all the kingdom, but I will give one tribe to your son, for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem that I have chosen.”
1 Kings 11:1-13

Heart Grew Cold

We love stories with happy endings, and we particularly like stories about the rich. If 1 Kings 11 was not in our Bible, we would have perceived Solomon, the wisest and richest man alive, to have lived happily ever after. Did Solomon's wisdom and riches keep him from turning his heart away from the Lord?

Unfortunately, they did not! Against the commandment of God, Solomon took for himself wives from other nations, and those wives turned his heart away from God to serve their gods and idols. This was Solomon, the man to whom God appeared twice! In spite of God's warning against this very thing, we find that his heart grew cold.

Do the morals of our leaders matter; can we separate one's morals from their leadership abilities? That has been an interesting debate in recent years; but their really is no debate. What happened to the kingdom of Solomon because his heart grew cold and went after foreign gods?

Israel was divided; ten of the tribes were torn away from the descendants of Solomon. Can our countries continue to expect the blessings of God in the face of the kind of leaders we choose? As we watch morals seriously decline in our countries, should we be surprised by the increase in catastrophes? God is a righteous and holy God who demands righteousness and holiness from his people.

What about our personal lives? Is it possible for us to get so wise that we could never fall from the Lord? As Solomon's heart grew cold, so could ours.

Guard your heart! Spend time in fellowship with God, praying, reading His Word, and meditating on what you have read. Make Christ preeminent in your life, and do not spend a day without a special time of fellowship with Him.

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Duty of Man

June 20: Ecclesiastes 7-12

15 In my vain life I have seen everything. There is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his evildoing. 16 Be not overly righteous, and do not make yourself too wise. Why should you destroy yourself? 17 Be not overly wicked, neither be a fool. Why should you die before your time? 18 It is good that you should take hold of this, and from that withhold not your hand, for the one who fears God shall come out from both of them.
Ecclesiastes 7:15-18

10 Then I saw the wicked buried. They used to go in and out of the holy place and were praised in the city where they had done such things. This also is vanity. 11 Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil. 12 Though a sinner does evil a hundred times and prolongs his life, yet I know that it will be well with those who fear God, because they fear before him. 13 But it will not be well with the wicked, neither will he prolong his days like a shadow, because he does not fear before God.
Ecclesiastes 8:10-12

1 Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”; 2 before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain, 3 in the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those who look through the windows are dimmed, 4 and the doors on the street are shut—when the sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low— 5 they are afraid also of what is high, and terrors are in the way; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along, and desire fails, because man is going to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets— 6 before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern, 7 and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. 8 Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity.

13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.
Ecclesiastes 12:1-8 & 13-14

The Duty of Man

There are few words more powerful than Ecclesiastes 12; Solomon, the wisest and richest man who ever lived sought to know the meaning of life. In Ecclesiastes 12:13 he has come to the end of the matter; he has heard everything.

Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.

In Ecclesiastes 7:15-18 Solomon makes an interesting comparison between the righteous and the wicked man. He calls us to avoid extremes in either direction, because some of both will come to the knowledge of Christ and fear God. How can one be too righteous? We only have to look at Jesus' interaction with the Pharisees in the New Testament to understand that answer. If one is too self righteous, then he has no need of a Savior, and fails to come to Christ. If one is too evil, he takes so much pleasure in his wickedness and totally lacks any fear of God, so that he never comes to Christ.

In either case, the person has been totally stripped of his conscience, so that he does not perceive the evil of his heart.

Neither are we to look about us and try to understand the justice of God. We see the righteous who live a troubled life and come to an early death, and we see the wicked enjoying great pleasures and living a long life. We must all look to their eternal destiny. The righteous, though he has lived a miserable life will live in eternal splendor and joy in the presence of the Lord. The wicked, though they have enjoyed a magnificent life for these few years they have lived on earth, face eternal darkness and suffering, being cut off from the mercy of God forever.

All of chapter 12 expresses the conclusion of Solomon; take the time and read through this chapter today. The summary is given in Ecclesiastes 12:13 & 14:

13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.

There it is! Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man!

Pray that, by the grace of God, this will be your purpose for the years God gives you on this earth.

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Eternity in Your Heart

June 19: Ecclesiastes 1-6

9 What gain has the worker from his toil? 10 I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. 12 I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; 13 also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God's gift to man.

14 I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. 15 That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away.

16 Moreover, I saw under the sun that in the place of justice, even there was wickedness, and in the place of righteousness, even there was wickedness. 17 I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every matter and for every work. 18 I said in my heart with regard to the children of man that God is testing them that they may see that they themselves are but beasts.
Ecclesiastes 3:9-18

1 Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. 2 Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. 3 For a dream comes with much business, and a fool's voice with many words.
Ecclesiastes 5:1-3

Eternity in Your Heart

I have always been greatly fascinated and challenged by the book of Ecclesiastes; I consider it a "must read" for all Christians. Solomon did not lack the means or the opportunity to try everything, and that is exactly what he did. In his quest for wisdom and knowledge he sought to know the meaning of life.

Yet, what he saw was that no matter what he did, it all proved to be vanity, or emptiness. He amassed wealth and labored hard to produce beautiful things, but in the end it all produced emptiness. Solomon's gardens were one of the seven wonders of the world, and yet the building of them only produced emptiness in his heart.

So, what did he discover really mattered?

12 I perceived that there is nothing better for them [man] than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; 13 also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God's gift to man.

14 I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him.

Is this still true today? Reread the verses shown above; ponder the thought that God's gift to man is to give him enjoyment in his labor, and to take pleasure in his toil. But, none of our toil will last! After we are gone, we are soon forgotten! We may build great things, but what will happen to those things after we are gone?

What does endure forever? Only the things that God does endure forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. Where will you find fulfillment? Only by fearing God and doing the works for Him that will last for eternity, will you find vanity and emptiness replaced by fulfillment and joy.

What is your purpose? What are the things that are driving you--the things that you simply must accomplish? When you have achieved your goal, what will you gain?

These are important questions to consider and to answer. Take the time and read the first six chapters of Ecclesiastes today, and then come back tomorrow and read Solomon's conclusion of the whole matter!

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Blessed is the One Who Fears the Lord

June 18: Proverbs 27-29

1 Do not boast about tomorrow,
for you do not know what a day may bring.
2 Let another praise you, and not your own mouth;
a stranger, and not your own lips.
Proverbs 27:1-2

4 Those who forsake the law praise the wicked,
but those who keep the law strive against them.
5 Evil men do not understand justice,
but those who seek the Lord understand it completely.

13 Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.
14 Blessed is the one who fears the Lord always,
but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.

26 Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool,
but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.
27 Whoever gives to the poor will not want,
but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse.
Proverbs 28:4-5, 13-14 & 26-27

23 One's pride will bring him low,
but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.

25 The fear of man lays a snare,
but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.
Proverbs 29:23 & 25

Blessed is the One Who Fears the Lord

When I was a child it was hard for me to tell the difference between Christians and non-Christians. It was a conservative time; it seemed like everyone went to church. Of course, that was very deceptive because I could not see into their hearts.

In our day of openness and rebellion, it becomes easier and easier to tell the difference between believers and non-believers. We still can not see the heart, and as the culture seeps into the churches the Christians often begin to act more like the world than like Christians. We begin to understand the difference between the righteous and the wicked when we study the words of Solomon.

Look at what Solomon had to say in today's reading about the lives of the righteous and the wicked, and observe the advice he gives regarding the difference.

*When we break the law we are praising the wicked.
*Those who seek the Lord understand justice.
*Those who conceal their sin will not prosper, but those who confess and forsake their sin find mercy.
*Whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.
*He who trusts in his own mind is a fool.
*He who walks in wisdom will be delivered.
*He who gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many curses.
*Pride will bring a person low, but being lowly of spirit brings honor.
*If you fear men it will be a snare to you, but safety comes in fearing the Lord.

What advice does Solomon give to the Christian?

*Do not boast about tomorrow.
*Let other people praise you instead of you praising yourself.

As I read through the above two lists, I realize why our world is in such a mess! The normal lifestyle today is to live like the wicked; as a matter of fact, people are exemplified when they exhibit the traits of a fool.

As Christians we must pray for grace from the Lord to truly order our lives in the manner that pleases the Lord. By His grace, we must begin to understand the difference between black and white (sin and righteousness), and pray that all "gray" areas will disappear from our lives.

Who is the one who is blessed?

Blessed is the One Who Fears the Lord.

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Christian Success Institute
Don't Live Your Life Without It!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Apples of Gold in Pictures of Silver

June 17: Proverbs 25-26

11 A word fitly spoken
is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.
12 Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold
is a wise reprover to a listening ear.
13 Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest
is a faithful messenger to those who send him;
he refreshes the soul of his masters.

15 With patience a ruler may be persuaded,
and a soft tongue will break a bone.

23 The north wind brings forth rain,
and a backbiting tongue, angry looks.
24 It is better to live in a corner of the housetop
than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.

28 A man without self-control
is like a city broken into and left without walls.
Proverbs 25:11-13, 15, 23-24 & 28

20 For lack of wood the fire goes out,
and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.
21 As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire,
so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife.
22 The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels;
they go down into the inner parts of the body.
23 Like the glaze covering an earthen vessel
are fervent lips with an evil heart.
24 Whoever hates disguises himself with his lips
and harbors deceit in his heart;
25 when he speaks graciously, believe him not,
for there are seven abominations in his heart;

28 A lying tongue hates its victims,
and a flattering mouth works ruin.
Proverbs 26:20-25 & 28

Apples of Gold in Pictures of Silver

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.
Proverbs 25:11, King James Version

I love the King James translation of Proverbs 25:11. A word fitly spoken--how hard can that be?

Here is what James had to say about the tongue:

5Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!
6And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.


8But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
9Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.
10Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be
.

James 3:5-6 & 8-10, King James Version

Look at the examples given (both good and bad) by Solomon in the passages shown above.

*With patience a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue will break a bone.
*It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.
*A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.
*As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife.
*A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin.

The ability that God gives to us (being able to communicate through speech) comes with both blessings and curses. If no man can tame the tongue, what are we to do?

No man can tame the tongue, but Christ can! Go to Christ; cry out to Him to help you tame the most unruly member of your body--the tongue. Ask Him to make you a channel of blessing today for His glory in your thoughts, your words, and your actions.

God Bless You,
Linda

Unless otherwise noted, all Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Blessings and Warnings

June 16: 1 Kings 9 & 2 Chronicles 8

1 As soon as Solomon had finished building the house of the Lord and the king's house and all that Solomon desired to build, 2 the Lord appeared to Solomon a second time, as he had appeared to him at Gibeon. 3 And the Lord said to him, “I have heard your prayer and your plea, which you have made before me. I have consecrated this house that you have built, by putting my name there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time. 4 And as for you, if you will walk before me, as David your father walked, with integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded you, and keeping my statutes and my rules, 5 then I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised David your father, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’ 6 But if you turn aside from following me, you or your children, and do not keep my commandments and my statutes that I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them, 7 then I will cut off Israel from the land that I have given them, and the house that I have consecrated for my name I will cast out of my sight, and Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all peoples. 8 And this house will become a heap of ruins. Everyone passing by it will be astonished and will hiss, and they will say, ‘Why has the Lord done thus to this land and to this house?’ 9 Then they will say, ‘Because they abandoned the Lord their God who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt and laid hold on other gods and worshiped them and served them. Therefore the Lord has brought all this disaster on them.’”
1 Kings 9:1-9

Blessings and Warnings

1 Kings 9:1-9 records the words of the Lord that He spoke to King Solomon after the completion of the House of God. Just as God spoke to Solomon, so He comes to us today with those same blessings and warnings.

In our culture today we hear much about the blessings of God, but strangely absent are words of God's warnings against sin and the result it has on our physical land.

I live in Iowa which is currently being inundated by flooding; the city of Cedar Rapids is literally being swallowed up by the Cedar River. A man was quoted as saying something to this effect, "We just do not know what to do; I guess it just depends on the mercy of God. As I read that I thought, "Even if we do know what to do in a disastrous situation, it still depends on the mercy of God. As a matter of fact, in times of great blessings, it still depends on the mercy of God.

We remember to plea for mercy from the Lord when impossible situations and disasters arise, but do we remember to ask why God is sending these floods? God does not cause evil, but He does not always prevent it.

Look at these words from our Bible passage today,

6 But if you turn aside from following me, you or your children, and do not keep my commandments and my statutes that I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them, 7 then I will cut off Israel from the land that I have given them, and the house that I have consecrated for my name I will cast out of my sight, and Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all peoples.

What I found most interesting was the next two verses.

8 And this house will become a heap of ruins. Everyone passing by it will be astonished and will hiss, and they will say, ‘Why has the Lord done thus to this land and to this house?’ 9 Then they will say, ‘Because they abandoned the Lord their God who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt and laid hold on other gods and worshiped them and served them. Therefore the Lord has brought all this disaster on them.

Even the nations surrounding Israel would understand that disaster would strike the country if they abandoned the Lord their God!

To those who believe there is no God, or that He will not strike them dead for their sins, and their following after the gods of this age I would say, "Look around you!" Look at the hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, tornadoes, and floods. There is no doubt that we are truly in the end times.

As Christians we must look at the blessings and warnings from God's Word, and be wise. Our days are numbered; we must pray that God will give us a heart to order our lives according to the Bible and to spread the Gospel to all of those around us. Is there anything else more important?

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.