Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A Devotional Thought From 2 Chronicles

Ahaz was 20 years old when he began to reign, and he reigned 16 years in Jerusalem: but he did not that which was right in the sight of the LORD, like David his father:     2 Chronicles 28 :1
Hezekiah began to reign when he was five and 20 years old, and he reigned nine and 20 years in Jerusalem, And his mother’s name was Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah. And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father had done.     2 Chronicles 29:1,2

These verses are a study of two Kings, both in the line of King David who is called their father according to custom although, as founder of the line, he would’ve been far back in the history of the Kings, and the great, great, great, great, grandfather or something. Both men reigned from the same throne as David in the capital city Jerusalem in Judah, but their reigns, their administrations, had very different outcomes and consequences, and any observer of Judah’s history could have predicted that just by comparing the verses above. One king, Hezekiah, was like David, the other, Ahaz, was not. One did evil in God’s sight, the other did that which was right. One was not buried  among the Kings, and the other when he slept with his fathers was buried in the chiefest of the sepulchers of the sons of David with great honor of his subjects.

He that honors God, God honors. He that does evil is not revered by the people. These simple principles are true today. Rulers who wish to leave a legacy in their nation, and for history to record and revere should do that which is right in the eyes of the living God, the God of the Bible. This has always been true of any king, queen, ruler, president, patriarch, or Prime Minister. It is so obvious and yet because of the sinful nature of their hearts some men and women or kings and queens, even when they know what they are planning to do is morally, spiritually, biblically wrong, will nonetheless simply go ahead and do wrong much to the harm of the people they are supposed to be serving. Given the sinful nature of man and the addiction of power can we expect any less among modern-day rulers? Only if they are willing to turn to God’s word and do what is right in His eyes!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

A Devotional Thought From 2 Chronicles

And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, there is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord: but I hate him; for he never prophesied good unto me, but always evil: the same is Micaiah the son of Imla. And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the King say so.     2 Chronicles 18:7

One of the sinful missteps of Jehoshaphat’s administration in Judah was to become good friends with the evil king of Israel, Ahab. Ahab talked Jehoshaphat into joining with him to make war against his enemy Syria at the battle of Ramothgilead. Jehoshaphat true to his faith despite having put his foot into this cow pie, asked Ahab if they couldn’t enquire of the LORD to see if this endeavor would be blessed. Ahab was only too glad to indulge his ally and called forth four hundred prophets, apparently those who were followers of false gods or, at least, not in touch with the true God of the Jewish people. They said, paraphrased, God says do it you will win.

Jehoshaphat was uneasy, apparently recognizing the sketchy connection of these prophets  with real Jewish faith, and he said to Ahab, Isn’t there a prophet of the LORD we can ask? Ahab’s response is  striking. There is yet one man, by whom we may inquire of the LORD: but I hate him; for he never prophesied good unto me, but always evil.

Ahab, the king and government of Israel, liked to be told that whatever he wanted to do was good, would work, and everything would be honky dory. That’s why when he got religious he called the false prophets. They told him what wanted to hear. That’s why Micaiah was usually persona non grata, and was only called on when necessary. Micaiah told it like it is. His prophesies or sermons were based upon what God said, and often what God said, and therefore what Micaiah said, contradicted the administration’s policies. If you read on in this chapter you will find Micaiah paid a price for his faith candor, imposed on him by the king (Ahab) who rejected God’s truth.

In western  societies we have a similar thing today. The Bible preaching church stands in the place of Micaiah, and is rarely listened to regarding the cultural changes sought by a reckless unfaithful society. When the leader of our country, the administration, the special interest groups, or the courts decide to redefine what is appropriate and moral, and then accuse traditional morality of being wrong and bad and hurtful, they do not call the Bible preachers to ask them for the revelation of God’s truth from the Bible. They don’t want to hear that. It will not tell them what they want to hear. They can always find a “clergy person” who will support the liberal redefinition of what is right and wrong, and rather that openly and honestly state that they don’t believe the God of the Bible, they will say that the Micaiahlike Bible teachers just don’t understand it.

Then the poor parishoners (church attenders and members) who have been taught the Bible and have believed it, whether they be bakers, college students, bathroom attendants, or whoever gets caught up in the redefinition du jour, ends up getting clobbered by an unsympathetic legal system that has decided free speech is for those who tow the new cultural line. Let not the king say so.

Our nation and the nations of the world need Jehoshaphats not Ahabs!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

A Devotional Thought From 2 Chronicles

And the LORD was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the first ways of his father David, and sought not unto Baalim; But sought to the LORD God of his father, and walked in his commandments, and not after the doings of Israel.     2 Chronicles 17:3, 4

The King was the government in ancient days. To speak of Jehoshaphat was to speak of the kingdom of Judah (the southern kingdom).  As the chronicler of Israel’s history tells us about this particular King, we learn that he was a man of faith, and that this faith was expressed by his behaviors both in his personal life and in the way that he lead his nation. Jehoshaphat was a believer in the living God of Israel and he was the great example for all of his people of what it meant to walk in the ways of God.
One of the key things was that he should worship the LORD alone, and never seek after false gods, they were called Baalim, as too many kings and government officials had done before him. The chronicler makes a comparison between Jehoshaphat and his doings, and the doings of the northern kingdom of Israel. From its very inception under Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, the northern kingdom had a history of setting aside the worship of the true God of Israel and following the false gods. The contrast between Jehoshaphat and the long line of kings following Jeroboam was that he, like many of the kings of Judah, followed the Lord faithfully, while they (the northern kings) more often than not followed the false gods. Because of Jehoshaphat’s faithful service to God and the things that he did for his nation while seeking to follow God, the scriptures tell us, And the fear of the LORD fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that were roundabout Judah, so that they made no war against Jehoshaphat (2 Chron. 17:10). 
Because of the faith and righteousness of the leader, and the righteousness and faith that he brought to his political administration, the nation was blessed with one of the greatest blessings any nation can have; the nations of their world did not make war against Judah. How blessed with peace our modern nations would be if all of today's governments were to follow Jehoshaphat’s example.

Monday, April 25, 2016

A Devotional Thought From Ruth

Ruth said “…thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.”     Ruth 1:16

Yesterday I had the privilege of preaching at a nearby church and I told the story of Ruth’s testimony: How she came out of paganism, poverty, and a precarious future into the happy blessings of God. I summarized the Bible book that tells her story with these five statements.
Our God is the God of tough times.
Our God is the God of romance.
Our God is the God of new beginnings.
Our God is the God of the best blessings.

Our God is the God of salvation!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

A Devotional Thought From 2 Kings

Yet the Lord testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets.     2 Kings 17:3

The LORD testified, made it clear, to Israel the kind of lifestyle He expected to see among the people of Israel. He testified through the prophets and seers. They told the people God’s plan of faith and life. It was simple, basic, clear-cut, straight-forward.

It contained two prongs: 1. Turn from your evil ways. No one argues that Israel, the northern kingdom, was not filled with evil behavior. They are constantly disparaged in the Old Testament for continuing to follow the sin of her first King, Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, who we are told again and again, caused Israel to sin. In following evil and the wickedness of Jeroboam the people of the northern kingdom added to that the sin of following the Baalim gods, and caused their children to pass through the fire. This meant that they took newborn infants and burned them on the altar to these false gods. False religion always leads to death, not just spiritually, but often physically as well. 2. The second aspect of what God called upon Israel to do was to keep His commandments, to follow His law, to obey His revelation of what faith living in this world should look like. Had they done so, such a turnaround might have saved them from the disaster that eventually fell upon them.

And the king of Assyria did carry away Israel unto Syria and put them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes: Because they obeyed not the voice of the LORD their God, but transgressed his covenant, and all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded, and would not hear them, nor do them.     2 Kings 18:11,12

The consequences were hard. The king of Assyria came, conquered the capital city of Samaria and all the northern kingdom, and carried the people of Israel away as captives, and exiled them in a strange land because they would not obey God.

For any nation’s long time prosperity the proper path is to respond positively to the revelation God has given. Modern nations are blessed in that they have God’s clear message for national, familial, and individual living set forth in the Bible, if they desire to know what God wants. If the people who desire their nation’s best future follow God’s teaching, and live it out on a daily basis, their country, families, and personal lives will possibly be kept from great disaster.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

A Devotional Thought From 1 Kings

And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said to him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim.     1 Kings 18:17, 18

So when Ahab and Elijah meet after God had told Elijah he was going to lift the drought, Ahab looks down from the chariot and asks, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? Ahab and his pagan wife Jezebel were stunned and angry that Elijah had turned the people back to the LORD, and had executed 850 false prophets. In one fell swoop the nation had had a cataclysmic change, in Ahab’s mind a change for the worse, so looking at Elijah he says, Art thou he that troubleth Israel?

Elijah is not intimidated. He looks the King in the eyes and says (let me paraphrase v. 18), “We know who is troubling Israel. Thou art the man. And how have you done it? You have forsaken the commandments of the LORD and worshiped (and still worship) false gods.”

When the preachers of righteousness are criticized for standing against the immoral currents of any society, the leaders and follows of immorality accuse them of troubling the nations. Why can’t you just shut up about what the Bible says is right and wrong? Not everybody believes in your LORD so why must you put your faith out there and make them question their values and actions? Why can’t you live and let live? Why can’t you just let society do what it wants without being critical? You can have your own religion just keep it inside the walls of your religious building and don’t let the public at large know what you think or believe, because it just causes trouble to advocate for spouses to be faithful to one another in marriage, or for preborn children to be allowed to live, or for men to use only the men’s room when in public places, or for government to be righteous, or for preachers to preach the Bible as God’s Word revealed, or for violent criminals to be punished, or… or… or. All of your protestations trouble the nation!

Like Elijah Christians and other moral people reply, “We know who is troubling the nation. It is the leaders and followers of breaking down traditional faith and morality. You are Ahab (Melville’s character named after this wicked king of scripture) chasing after the white whale of no standards, no morality, no restrictions, no obligations, no truth, no righteousness, and when you finally harpoon that situation it will drag you down and drown the nation with you.”

Thursday, March 31, 2016

A Devotional Thought From 1 Kings

And the Lord said unto David my father, Whereas it was in thine heart to build an house unto my name, thou didst well that it was in thine heart.     1 Kings 8:18

Solomon here recounts a statement that God made to his father David. David, as you may recall, wanted to build a house (temple) for his LORD. God would not allow it because of David’s bloodied warrior hands. Bur God, who looks on the hearts of men and women knew that David desired to honor Him with such a place of worship, and said (as it were) “Even though I will not allow you to be the builder of My house, David, I know your heart, and your aspiration to glorify me in this way was a good thing. The very fact that this was the intention in your heart, though you could not accomplish your goal, was a good and blessed thing.”

The attitude of the heart is tremendously important in the believer’s life. We can’t always do the things we dream of doing for God, but the fact that in our hearts we have that desire is a good thing, a deep spiritual thing, and God sees it and blesses it.

An old gospel standard by Dr. Bennie Triplett, popular in the 1950’s and ‘60’s, asks: “How about your heart? Is it right with God?” How about the attitudes of your heart? Do you want to bring Him glory by your life and actions, behaviors and dreams? That’s a good thing. Follow your dreams and see what glorious things God allows you to do for Him. And, even if you do not have the privilege of doing all your dreams and hopes for His glory, having it in your heart to glorify the Lord is a good thing, and you do well.