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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Consume or Contribute?

Tonight there was a meeting at church.  We met to celebrate that several of the groups have multiplied.  During the discussion that ensued, a consistent thread became evident.  There were many in the group who were consumers.  They come to be taught.  They do not really engage in the process.
Consume or Contribute?
The image of the plant in Little Shop of Horrors leaps to mind.  “Feed me, Seymour!”

Toward the end of the meeting I asked what would some options for a contrast to consume.  One of the men immediately said, “Contribute.”  He nailed it.

There were several conversations about how to move from consuming to contributing in the groups.

Nehemiah 3 (here @ Bible Gateway) came to mind.  The passage is a list of names and the part of the wall on which they worked.  A great work cannot be brought to fruition without many hands coordinated and joined by the same vision.

The Body is a great work.

Ephesians 4:11 – 16 (here @ Bible Gateway) tells us that the growth of the Body is a function ALL of the members contributing based on the exercising of their gifts in the Body.

It is not an easy transition from consumer to contributor, but it is a transition for which we are all called to make.

Monday, January 29, 2018

The Timeline of Training

Genesis 14:14 (here @ Bible Gateway) is striking. 
The Timeline of Training
What interests me here is that Moses had built an army capable of defeating four kings.  He had trained them, equipped them when he did not need the force.

Leadership seems to train people for what may, will come and not what is on their plate now.

Some of the things that I have seen in the past year that people needed to know to navigate well the circumstances of their lives:

  • The Love of God
  • Trusting God
  • The Sovereignty of God

If you need help with these.  Let me know.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Responding to Sin

Look at Ezra 10:6 (here @ Bible Gateway) and Nehemiah 1:4 (here @ Bible Gateway).  .
Responding to Sin
The response of the Ezra and Nehemiah over the sin or circumstances of others was to mourn and pray.

To be honest, that is not my first response.  My first response may be something like, “They should have known better.”

That’s certainly helpful.  It’s a thought with such eternal significance and effectiveness.

Truth is, when I catch myself in sin or difficult circumstances, my first response is not to mourn and pray either.  Probably, it is to justify.  Claim special circumstances, blame shift, or try to figure a way to solve the problem.  (We come by blame shifting genetically – check out Genesis 3:12 – 13) (here @ Bible Gateway).

It occurs to me that Ezra and Nehemiah had it right, I have it wrong

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Why Journal?

About this time last year I was working through Genesis 11:6 – 7 (here @ Bible Gateway).  I was struggling with the “same language” and therefore they can do anything concept.
Why Journal?
I write out the passages in my journal along with those with which I use as cross references.  For Genesis 11:6 – 7 (here @ Bible Gateway) I also looked at:
I was confused.  I wrote out that confusion.  It was clear that one of the reasons we have difficulty getting things done is communication.  Yet it was God who confused the speech and He wants us to be unified.  But we don’t have the same language and when we do sometimes we do not define the words in the same way.

In the middle of the next sentence I got it.  There is a break on the page in my journal with “OH” written.

I saw that the real issue was that the Lord wanted us to trust Him in what we do rather than our ability to figure it out or communicate clearly.

That is one of the benefits of keeping a journal.  Writing out your thoughts helps to clarify your thinking.  You do not have to do it like I do.  Do what works for you.

But try it.  Stick with it.  It will be of great benefit in your understanding of Scripture and your relationship with Christ.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Means or End

I was able to finish the search I started yesterday, this time without tears.  The passage I was looking for is Acts 4:13 (here @ Bible Gateway).  While it turns out I have written on it before, this time it is from a different perspective.
Means or End
In the last weeks and months there have been several conversations with which I have been involved that focused on some sort of discipline of the Christian life.  For instance, Bible study, Scripture memory, quiet time, prayer, how to make the most out of Christian meetings, and other basics in which those of us who are pursuing a relationship with Christ, should be engaged.

While these disciplines are important they are not the end.  However, at times there are those of us who will measure how we are doing in the Christian life by how we are doing in these disciplines.

Take a look at Acts 4:13 (here @ Bible Gateway).  The passage is striking for a number of reasons.  Peter and John were not educated men.  They were fishermen.  They knew boats, weather, fish behavior, how to read the water, and how to find the fish.  They were brought before the educated, the priests, the rulers, the elders, and the scribes.  Men who knew the Bible, men who studied, men who had been mentored, taught by others the intricacies of the Law.  From and education standpoint Peter and John were far outclassed.

Then Peter spoke.

He blew their minds.  It was not a small explosion.  The priest, rulers, elders, and scribes recognized that they were “untrained,” but were nevertheless amazed.  They attributed it to their having been with Jesus.

That’s the point is it not?

That is what the Lord told the Pharisees in John 5:39 – 40 (here @ Bible Gateway).  For the Pharisees and by extension the priests, the rulers, the elders, and the scribes, it was about the Word of God.  These had the first five books of the Bible memorized.  Jesus told them that this was not sufficient.  They studied, they memorized, they probably spent time in personal devotion in the Law, they prayed, they were regular in the synagogue, some even taught there.  Jesus said they missed the point.

It wasn’t about knowing all of those things or engaging in all those disciplines.  It was about knowing Him.  Coming to Him.  Following Him.

It is the same for us.  Those disciplines are important, key, and indispensable in our walk with Him.  But engaging in those disciplines to the extent that they are what we measure, keep track of or revel in is missing the same point that the Pharisees missed.  They are tools.  Essential tools, but tools nonetheless.  If through them we are not learning more of Him, if we are not growing closer to Him through our engagement with those tools we are missing it.

The whole point of engaging in these, even in reading this blog or Christian books, is to get to know Him better.  If it is not working that way for you.  Something needs to change.  If you are in a group of guys, or if you are meeting with someone regularly to talk about your Christian life, tell them you are struggling with this.  What you are doing, rather the amount of it, is not the issue.  The issue is through what you are doing, are you increasing in your relationship with Him.

I have to continually check this.  It’s kind of like the scheduled maintenance on your car.  If you do not pay attention the car will wear out and not work as well.  Same thing with us.  We need to continually ask are we knowing Him better or has our focus drifted on to the means rather than the end.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Homesick

I search through the blog before I write to see if I have already written on a verse or a topic before I write.  Did that tonight and ran across “Sorry for Your Loss” and changed what I was going to write.
Homesick
As I read through that post, I began to weep.  It has been a hard 18 months.  We have experienced 4 deaths and 3 births.  The last death was of my daughter in law.  We came close to losing the newest grandson a few weeks ago.

Last year I started reading How Long, O Lord? Reflections on Suffering and Evil, 2nd ed. by D. A. Carson.  On page 130 he says:

Christians ought to be developing a kind of homesickness for heaven. Some want to warn us against being so heavenly minded that we will be no earthly good. I suppose that is possible, but I haven’t found anyone like that yet. Puffed up piety and sentimental religion can make one think much of heaven and love no one down here, but those who are genuinely heavenly minded have the highest incentive to serve well here: they are laying up treasure in heaven.

I wrote about that at some level in “Sorry for Your Loss”.  I have heard that some were looking forward to going home, dad was.  In the past I have wondered at that.  I do no longer.  At a significant level, I long to be reunited with those I know, to meet the siblings I never knew, and the grandchild that is already there, and to talk with my daughter in law and see the joy when she sees her daughter again.

I think that I am beginning to understand.  I am getting homesick.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Weapons of the Enemy Summary

For the last couple of days we have been looking at Genesis 3 (here @ Bible Gateway).  Specifically how the enemy attacked Adam and Eve resulting in the fall of the human race.  Today well summarize and to some extent expand what we have seen.
Weapons of the Enemy Summary
At the time of this attack Adam and Eve were living in the garden and had a personal relationship with God.  He would come and walk through the garden, visiting with them.  The attacks of the enemy seem to be directed at this relationship primarily calling the veracity of the Word of God into question and thus tacitly raising the question, “Can we really trust God?”

He did this three ways:
  1. He questioned the Word of God, “Has God said?”  There are at least three implications of this question:
    1. We cannot trust what we read or hear there is something beyond what is on the surface of what we can observe or hear.
    2. The source is really not God.
    3. We are not able to understand what God said or we misunderstood Him.
  1. He contradicted what God said essentially calling God a liar.  This has at least two implications:
    1. It calls into questions the trustworthiness of God.  If we cannot believe what He says, we cannot trust Him.
    2. It suggests that the messages of God are false.
  1. He claims that we can become God.  Again two possible implications.
    1. This mirrors the enemy’s sin outlined in Isaiah 14:12 – 14 (here @ Bible Gateway), Revelation 12:7 – 17 (here @ Bible Gateway), the enemy wanted to be like God, above God.
    2. In place of trust in God, relationship with Him, and acceptance of His Word, the enemy offers “knowledge.”
It is instructive that all of the cults are based on one or more of these three  ways the enemy challenged Eve.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Results of the Weapons of the Enemy

Yesterday we looked at Genesis 3:1 – 5 (here @ Bible Gateway) cataloging the three weapons the enemy used against Eve in the garden.
Results of the Weapons of the Enemy
Let’s consider the impact of those weapons on Eve and by extension Adam.

Genesis 3:6 (here @ Bible Gateway) – “She took…ate;…and gave also to her husband with her…”
Eve listened to the enemy.  This morning the Tuesday group was in 1 Timothy 4:1 (here @ Bible Gateway).  The first step in falling away is to pay attention to the false teaching, the weapons.  To avoid them one needs to know the truth.  Eve paid attention to the enemy.  That resulted in her:
Reconsidering what God had said – she saw that the tree was:
  • Good for food
  • A delight to the eyes
  • Desirable to make one wise

So she acted on what she saw.  Note that the enemy did not suggest that she eat the fruit, he just called the Word of the Lord into question.

There is more here than we can cover, so I am just going to hit the high points…

Genesis 3:7 (here @ Bible Gateway) – They covered themselves
They immediately moved to shame and covered themselves.  One of the first effects of sin then is shame.

Genesis 3:8 (here @ Bible Gateway) – They heard and hid
They knew what God sounded like.  They walked with Him in the garden on a regular basis.  This time when they heard Him they hid.  The relationship was broken.

Now it gets interesting.

Genesis 3:9 (here @ Bible Gateway) – Then the Lord called
To whom did he call?  It was the woman that the enemy approached.  It was the woman who reconsidered the command of God and decided it was not necessary to obey.  It was the woman who gave the fruit to her husband.  But the Lord calls the man.  He calls to the one to whom He gave the command.  He called to the one who was responsible.

Genesis 3:22 (here @ Bible Gateway) – Like one of us…
Who is God talking about here?  Some will say it is a generic “man” meaning both Adam and Eve.  However the Hebrew says, “the man.”  God specifically focuses on the male.

Chew on these.  As I said above there is much, much more in this chapter that is worth consideration.  I wanted to focus on these for now.

Tomorrow I will summarize some of these observations.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Weapons of the Enemy

There are some observations about Genesis 3:1 – 24 (here @ Bible Gateway) we should investigate.  This will take a couple of days to cover…
Weapons of the Enemy
The first set of observations is on the schemes of the enemy.

Genesis 3:1 (here @ Bible Gateway) – “Has God said…?”
The first weapon in the enemy’s arsenal is to call the Word of God into question.  He does this either by directly challenging what the Word says or else works at trying to convince us that the text does not say what it says.

A cursory review of the media, some churches, some denominations, some “Christian” authors or scholars will quickly validate that this is not only first but one of his most effective tools.

Genesis 3:4 (here @ Bible Gateway) – “You surely will not die!”
The second weapon is used hot on the heels of the first.  Emphatically contradict the Word of God; calling God a liar.  Again this is evident in our culture.  We are not bad people!  Man is basically good!  There is no God!  This is usually done in a way that requires one to engage in an argument.  Typically, it is couched in terms that are a logical fallacy.  “Are you foolish enough to still believe the creation account?”  Which is a complex question forcing you to defend two positions for which no evidence has been presented.

Genesis 3:5 (here @ Bible Gateway) – “You will be like God…”
The third weapon is to promise equality with God.  In the case of Adam and Eve to emphasize knowledge over relationship with God.  It could be the tagline for most cults.  It is also a subtle trap those of us who love and revere the Word of God too often fall.  We become enamored of the content of the Word over our relationship with the One whom it reveals.

Tomorrow we will consider the impact and response of man to these weapons.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Critical Need

1 Peter 5:8 (here @ Bible Gateway) reminds us that the enemy of our Lord is absolutely committed to destroy us.  That is not a new development since the founding of the Church.  It started in the garden.

The Critical Need
Consider Genesis 3:1 (here @ Bible Gateway).  Here the enemy attacks not the one whom the commands were given but one who was dependent on learning the commands from him who was charged with those commands.  Observe what the enemy does.  He calls into question the Word of God.  The Word of God that she would have had to have heard from her husband.

Eve did not have direct knowledge of what the Lord had said.  She only had what Adam had told her.  Adam either failed to communicate clearly, did not follow up with Eve to make sure she understood, or Eve did not take what Adam told her seriously.

You know the result.

Both were at fault, this is not about assigning blame to either.  They both shared in the sin and the result.

However, the situation does allude to two elements of the enemy’s preferred way of taking down God’s people.

First, the enemy calls into question the truth, accuracy, and application of God’s Word.  He attacks those who are most familiar with the Word, have the responsibility to equip others to understand and apply that Word, and he calls the Word into question for those who are dependent on others to equip them.

Second, he will do all that he can to muddle the transmission of the Word of God from one generation to another.

The enemy knows the power of God’s Word.  It is in his best interests to continually cast dispersions on the reliability and usefulness of the Word.  It is our responsibility to closely guard the Word.  To carefully and continually equip those whom the Lord has allowed us to serve to handle that Word accurately.

It is not just a good program for our communities.  It is essential, critical for survival.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Not PC

I have been accused of a lot of things.  Being politically correct is not one of them.  I find that whole movement destructive of rational dialog and thought.  So this post will be anything but politically correct.
Not PC
Genesis 2:18 – 25 (here @ Bible Gateway) has been in my reading in the past month, and it was as well a year ago.  Focus on 2:18 (here @ Bible Gateway).  Throughout the two accounts of the creation the Lord calls all that He did, “good” or “very good”.  Yet here, He says that it is “not good” that the man be alone.

As a result, God chooses to fix the “not good” situation.  Consider 2:22 (here @ Bible Gateway).  God fashions a woman for man.

A few days ago I got the December issue of JETS (Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society).  The table of contents for each issue is on the cover.  The first article listed was, “Does Genesis 2 Support Same-Sex Marriage?  An Evangelical Response”.  My first reaction – actually all of my reactions were – “you’ve got to be kidding me!”

But there it was.

Those who have an agenda will twist the Scripture into an unrecognizable shape.  They use their advanced degrees, condescension, “compassion”, and “scholarship” to bury the text with convoluted arguments that have not a scintilla of connection to what the text says.

It has been my observation that the more committed one is to proving the text does not say what it says the more ink and paper will be employed and the response to those questioning them will be branded as ignorant or “hate speech.”

To disagree with those who hold “compassionate”, “informed”, and “enlightened” positions, is to be a hater.  The convenient result of this response is it removes the “enlightened” from having to rationally discuss their errors.

Friday, January 19, 2018

My Take on the Thought Problem

Yesterday I suggested you take a look at these four passages:
My Take on the Thought Problem

The challenge was to summarize what you saw there.

Here are my thoughts:
  • There seems to be a continual rejection of God’s Word in the Body today.  In that denominations and institutions which used to focus on the Word of God and work hard at understanding and following it have moved away from that to embrace or negotiate with cultural norms and pressures. 
  • There is a limit to how much of this rejection of His Word God will tolerate.
  • We in the Body tend to measure ourselves by how we are doing relative to other bodies and believers.  That would be sin.
  • My focus has to be to study, speak, and act in accordance with God’s Word.
What did you see?

Thursday, January 18, 2018

A Thought Problem

Have a challenge for you.
A Thought Problem

Look at these passages:
How would you summarize the message of those passages?  I will share mine tomorrow.


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Bringing our Loved ones and Friends to the Lord

You may remember that the last book in our Bible is Revelation.  You may be put off by its imagery and apocalyptic discourse.  At a significant level, I am.
Bringing our Loved ones and Friends to the Lord
In one of the studies that the Lord allowed me to lead, I was asked several times to cover Revelation.  Each time I was able to deflect the request to another book.  However, at one point I finally gave in.

Typically I do not use commentaries in my study.  Why?  For the most part the commentaries do not address the questions that I bring to them.  I have found that if I invest the time in prayerful observation, that John 16:13 continually is validated as true.

But for this study, Revelation, I acquired multiple commentaries.  Most of them did not help, two did.  But again it was the prayerful observation that yielded most in the study.

With that in mind look at Revelation 9:20 – 21 (here @ Bible Gateway).

I have been in many conversations over the years that went somewhat along the lines of, “If only God would punish __________, people would repent and follow Him…”

However, these verses seems to throw buckets of cold water on that notion.  It seems that punishment for sin, no matter how dire, will not bring men to repentance.  If anything they seem to dig in their heels and fight harder for the right to continue in sin.

Rather, it is the draw and conviction by the Holy Spirit alone that will bring men to dependence on Him.  To accept the lavishly gracious offer of a life free from the reality of the punishment that our sin demands.  To accept life from Him rather from the death that we have purchased with our rebellion.

So, if you are concerned about one of your family or friend’s standing with Jesus.  Rather than continually push them or guilt them toward Christ, pray.  Pray that the Spirit will draw them to the Lord.  This combination is most clearly shared by Paul in 2 Timothy 2:24 – 25 (here @ Bible Gateway).  We share in kindness knowing it is the Lord that grants their decision to change their mind about Him, to repent.

It is not in our control.  That is a real challenge for most of us.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Preface to Distraction – Summary

For the past five days we have been looking at 2 Chronicles 15:2 – 7 (here @ Bible Gateway).  The series was called “Preface to Distraction” because I had earlier written about Asa focusing on the end of his life.  To summarize his life, in 2 Chronicles 15 (here @ Bible Gateway) Asa does really well.  In 2 Chronicle 16, not so much (here @ Bible Gateway).
Preface to Distraction – Summary

What is the difference?

In 15 (here @ Bible Gateway) Asa listens to the prophet Azariah, he sought the Lord.  In 16 (here @ Bible Gateway) he chose not to seek the Lord, but rather sought an alliance with Damascus; and he chose not to listen to the prophet Hanani, rather when Hanani confronted Asa, Asa threw him in the clink.

There are a number of lessons here.  Asa listened to Azaiah at the beginning of his reign.  He was relatively new to the job.  He was not too proud to take the advice.  When the problem reoccurred in the 36th year of his reign, he had much more experience.  Rather than seeking the Lord, he figured he could solve this one on his own.

It looks like he became comfortable, over confident, and complacent in his extensive experience.  Thus, he did not need to seek the Lord or listen to the counsel of a man of God.

Scares me.

It is a common tale.  One starts well and finishes poorly.  Why?  Confidence in one’s own wisdom and distancing oneself from godly counsel.  That seems to be a recipe for disaster, or in Asa’s case really bad feet.

What can we learn from Asa?  How can we avoid the downward trajectory of his life?  The first part, seeking the Lord, is really easier for us than it was for Asa.  We have the full text of the Bible, probably on our phones, he had scrolls but those scrolls seemed to get misplaced often.  He was supposed to make his own hand written copy of the first five books, Deuteronomy 17:18 – 20, but there is no indication that he did this.  We have an embarrassing amount of Bibles and Biblical resources there are over 3,000 in my Bible program.  For us it is as simple as a disciplined quiet time.  If you do not know how to do that, let me know, I’ll help.

There are few if, in fact any, prophets wandering around today.  I can say that I have never met or heard one.  So how do we avoid Asa’s second problem, not paying attention to men sent into his life by God?  That again may be simpler than it would seem.  If we look at the New Testament, one of the recurring themes is men encouraging other men.  So it would seem that we all need others around us who are committed to having those men in our lives.  Men who are struggling to walk with God in this life as we are.  Men who are in the Word of God.  Men who will encourage us from their life and their time in the Word.

It would seem to me that not to follow those two suggestions, to do what Asa did at the first of his reign, would insure that we will end up like him at the end of his reign.

I am not interested in that program.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Preface to Distraction – Part 4

We started this journey by stating that Asa did well for a time.  It was a result of his response to Azariah’s exhortation. 
Preface to Distraction – Part 4
Stop and think about that for a minute.  Azariah was not a public official.  He was confronting the king on the basis of the Holy Spirit’s prompting and Asa responded.  That underscores the importance of one individual acting on the leading of God.  It made a huge difference in the life of Asa, as long as he listened and responded accordingly.

But there is more.

Focus on 2 Chronicles 15:7 (here @ Bible Gateway).  Think through the context.  The nation is in distress.  There is no one to teach them the Law.  Yet God allows them to find Him.  Then Azariah encourages Asa that he is to be strong, that there is a reward for his work.  That immediately reminded me of 1 Corinthians 16:13 (here @ Bible Gateway) and 2 Timothy 2:25 – 25 (here @ Bible Gateway). 

These passages seem to reveal two sides to the same coin.  We are to depend on God for all that we do.  Thus, the premium put on seeking him before work in 2 Chronicles 15:7 (here @ Bible Gateway), but we are to work, engage, expend effort, knowing that through that dependence on Him, He will accomplish His work through ours.  That is really clear in 2 Timothy 2:24 – 25 (here @ Bible Gateway), we confront those who are in opposition, but it is God who changes their mind.

Think through these last few posts.  I will share some summary thoughts tomorrow.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Preface to Distraction – Part 3

The last couple of days we have looked at Azariah’s council to Asa.  The next part of that council is 2 Chronicles 15:5 – 6 (here @ Bible Gateway).  I am calling this series of posts “Preface to Distraction,” these verses are part of Azariah preparing Asa for what he was going to encounter.
Preface to Distraction – Part 3
We would do well to listen to Azariah as well.  The core of his message is that things have been in the toilet before.  People have abandoned the Lord in the past.  The reality is that they will do so again.  The first part of the exhortation is that even for those people if they seek the Lord he will let them find them.

In our lives, when we are going through difficulty, we can become laser focused on our situation.  We forget, or better, do not consider that others have been through similar or worse and will do so again.  Azariah’s exhortation to Asa would be a good place to turn at times like that.  We should acknowledge that others have had it as bad or worse.  We should take comfort in the reality that if we seek Him, He will let us find Him.

That is really good news.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Preface to Distraction – Part 2

Focus on 2 Chronicles 15:3 – 4 (here @ Bible Gateway) for a minute.
Note how the nation is described:
Preface to Distraction – Part 2
  • Without the true God
  • Without a teaching priest
  • Without Law

This created a situation much like we see today.  Spend any amount of time on a news channel or broadcast and note the number of stories that document despair.  That is the prevailing condition in most of our world.

Notice however the continuation of the theme of seek me and you will find me.  Without a teacher, without a law to draw them to God, Israel sought Him.  In desperation, looking for a solution the Lord allowed them to find Him.

That should give one hope.  The grace and mercy of the Lord is not hindered by the absence of a priest or teacher.  I know a pastor in a predominately Muslim country who, in desperation sought the Lord.  He allowed my friend to find Him.  He is still drawing near and learning more of the Lord on a daily basis.

If we are desperate, if we are seeking, He will help us to find Him.

That is really good news.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Preface to Distraction

Asa, is one of those men who did well – for a while.  For a time, he responded well to the Lord as he was confronted with truth.  But, as I have written before, he did not end well.  It is to our advantage to consider his life and ponder what we may learn from him.
Preface to Distraction
Asa had the advantage of having a man in his life who would encourage him in the Lord.  Azariah was that man. A prophet.  Take a look at Azariah’s message to Asa in 2 Chronicles 15:2 – 7 (here @ Bible Gateway).

There is much in these few verses we need to unpack.  For now focus on verse 2 (here @ Bible Gateway).

This first part of Azariah’s exhortation is fairly straight forward.  It is one declarative followed buy two conditional statements.

The declaration:

  • The Lord is with you when you are with Him.

The conditional statements;

  • If you seek the Lord, then the Lord will let you find Him.
  • If you forsake the Lord, then the Lord will forsake you.

Seems pretty simple on the surface.  But, as I reflect on these as I have typed them out, for those of us now it raises multiple issues that in a few sentences are impossible to fully cover.  Before we go further I acknowledge that there are layers here, but for the sake of time and space, let’s stipulate that at a significant level Azariah’s exhortation to Asa is readily applicable to us here and now.

The interesting thing is how Azariah, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, expands his encouragement to Asa in the next few sentances.

We will continue to look at this through the next post or so…

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Value of One Committed Man

Josiah is one of the kings of Judah which I admire.  I have written about him before.  He shows up again in 2 Chronicles 34:2 – 33 (here @ Bible Gateway).  Josiah was the grandson of arguably the worst king of Judah, Manasseh, and the son of Manasseh’s son Amon who was, if possible, worse.  The only reason Amon didn’t out evil his father is the people rose up and killed him after two years.
The Value of One Committed Man
The amazing thing about this is that Josiah was the polar opposite of his father and grandfather.  He was singularly committed to the Lord in all that he did.

The most stunning result of this man is in 2 Chronicles 34:33 (here @ Bible Gateway).  Those who had followed his father and his grandfather in evil, the people of Judah, did not turn from following the Lord all of the days of Josiah’s lifetime.

Leadership is important.  I have enjoyed greatly listening to the late distinguished professor of history J. Rufus Fears.  One maxim that he repeats several times is that a statesman has four essential characteristics:
  1. Bedrock core principles.
  2. A moral compass.
  3. A clear vision.
  4. Ability to build a consensus to reach that vision.

Josiah had those in spades.

That begs another question.  How did a man with both a corrupt and evil father and grandfather turn out so well?

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Not of this World

Romans 15:4 (here @ Bible Gateway) reminds us that the things that are written in the Old Testament are written for our instruction.  2 Timothy 3:16 – 17 (here @ Bible Gateway) tells us that all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable, in the context, Paul is talking there about the Old Testament.  Hebrews 4:12 (here @ Bible Gateway) insists that the Word is powerful, living and active, able to deal directly with our minds and hearts.
Not of this World
With that in mind, look at Zechariah 8:16 – 17 (here @ Bible Gateway).  As you read it note the verbs:
  • Do
  • Speak
  • Judge
  • Devise
  • Love

There are a couple more but focus on these for a minute.  The first one, “do,” suggests that this is a directive, something that the Lord wants us to pay attention to, to actually make a part of our behavior.

The second, “speak,” has the object “truth.”  The Lord expects us to speak truth to one another.  This is echoed, quoted really, by Paul in Ephesians 4:25 (here @ Bible Gateway) and Colossians 3:9 (here @ Bible Gateway).

The next “judge” is interesting.  We are to judge with truth but also with judgement.  This is the second time truth shows up in this passage.  The word translated “judgement” shows up 421 times in the text; 105 of those times it is translated “ordinance.”  The implication is that our judgement is not arbitrary but follows a guide, creed, or standard.  In the use of that judgement there is no room for anything but truth.

The next two verbs are negated.  We are “not to devise” evil.  We are not to think through, plan, scheme, how to do wrong,

“Love” is the next verb negated.  We are not to love perjury.  Lying about someone or something.

So based on these observations the Lord instruct us through Zechariah to:
  • Speak truth
  • Judge with truth and judgement
  • Not plot evil
  • Not love lying

A cursory review of current events in the news (current regardless of when you might read this) will quickly reveal that these four things are not common in the behavior of man.  Rather, in all strata of society nearly the exact opposite is true.

What we hear, read, and experience on a daily basis is more like:
  • Speaking falsehoods
  • Bias and skewed judgements
  • Evil plots
  • Committed Liars

As communities of faith, we are called out to be different than the world.  If we are, people notice.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Avoiding Epic Stupidity

Every time 2 Chronicles 25:2 – 15 (here @ Bible Gateway) comes around in my reading or study, I am stunned and challenged.  It is troubling to read that Amaziah sought the Lord, however, there is a “but”.  The writer tells us that Amaziah did not seek the Lord with a whole heart.
Avoiding Epic Stupidity
Then later we read that after Amaziah utterly defeats the Edomites he brings their gods into Jerusalem and bows down and worships the gods that were unable to protect his enemies from his assault.  What?  The Lord God Almighty enables Amaziah to defeat his enemy and then in gratitude Amaziah begins to worship the gods of the ones he defeated.  Not only illogical but epically stupid.

Good thing none of us ever do anything like that.

Not so fast – how about overcoming lust through our relationship with Christ and then choosing to watch movies or programs that promote adultery or focus on physical beauty.

How about – struggling with our tongue, using speech that is not edifying and then reading, watching, or listening to speech that demeans people or dishonors God.

How about – declaring that I am devoted to my relationship with Christ and yet unwilling to spend time engaged in personal time with Him in His Word.

Personally, I would rather that my Lord would not ever say about me that I did not follow Him with a whole heart.  That is my prayer.  Unfortunately, like Amaziah, I struggle with compromising with the world, briefly or unconsciously embracing the world’s standards.

That happens mostly when I am lax in my time with Him in the Word and prayer.  Based on what I read about those whom the Spirit has given us as examples in the Old Testament, that is pretty much normal.  So I need encouragement.  I need others to walk with me through this struggle.  I need to be engaged with men of like heart who are struggling with the same condition.  Hebrews 3:13 (here @ Bible Gateway) reminds me that I need to encourage those men on a daily basis – I need that encouragement as well.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Starting Anew

The Last 18 months have been difficult for our family; we have experienced 4 deaths and three births with the youngest grandchild currently in the hospital with 4 medical issues. 
Starting Anew

When I started this blog in 2011 it was the intention to write each day.  In the last three years that has slipped a bit for reasons some good some not.  This last year was a struggle to make it through each day. 

The last 18 months has been a school of prayer, grace, and perseverance.  It is not my intent in sharing this to curry sympathy, rather to recommit to what the Lord has challenged me to do.  I intend to do my best to write each day again. 

This, by the way, is not for the few that read it, but rather out of obedience.  So encourage me if I miss a day should you feel led. 

The one exception to this rule will possibly be when I am traveling in places where I do not have access to WIFI.