Archive for January, 2007

15:19 There was no more war until the thirty-fifth year of Asa’s reign. 16:1 In the thirty-sixth year of Asa’s reign, King Baasha of Israel attacked Judah, and he established Ramah as a military outpost to prevent anyone from leaving or entering the land of King Asa of Judah.1 16:2 Asa took all the silver and gold that was left in the treasuries of the Lord’s temple and of the royal palace and sent it to King Ben Hadad of Syria, ruler in Damascus, along with this message: 16:3 “I want to make a treaty with you, like the one our fathers made. See, I have sent you silver and gold. Break your treaty with King Baasha of Israel, so he will retreat from my land.” 16:4 Ben Hadad accepted King Asa’s offer and ordered his army commanders to attack the cities of Israel. They conquered Ijon, Dan, Abel Maim, and all the storage cities of Naphtali. 16:5 When Baasha heard the news, he stopped fortifying Ramah and abandoned the project. 16:6 King Asa ordered all the men of Judah to carry away the stones and wood that Baasha had used to build Ramah. He used the materials to build up Geba and Mizpah.

16:7 At that time Hanani the prophet visited King Asa of Judah and said to him: “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 from your hand. 16:8 Did not the Cushites and Libyans have a huge army with chariots and a very large number of horsemen? But when you relied on the Lord, he handed them over to you! 16:9 Certainly the Lord watches the whole earth carefully and is ready to strengthen those who are devoted to him. You have acted foolishly in this matter; from now on you will have war. 16:10 Asa was so angry at the prophet, he put him in jail. Asa also oppressed some of the people at that time. – 2 Chronicles 15:19-16:10

As you read about King Asa of Judah, you are struck by his loyalty to God. He served God throughout his life and reign. He relied on God to help him defeat enemies that were much greater in arms and numbers than his army. He knew that God really was his source of victory and success. However, After many years on the throne Asa became afraid of the power of his brother in Israel. He should have relied on God to pull him through and future attack. Even though Judah was smaller than Israel, God have given them victory before and promised future victory if they followed him (Israel was not following God.) Instead, Asa chose to create an alliance with Syria against Israel. The alliance worked in one regard. Syria attacked Israel causing there to be no attack by Israel against Judah. In the long term, Judah became embroiled in war after war because of the lack of reliance on God.

We tend to do the same thing in our own lives. Early on in our lives of faith, we follow hard after God and we experience great victories over what may seem like insurmountable odds. However, as we “age” in our faith, we begin to rely on ourselves and not God. We must always keep our focus on the only real source.

Heavenly Father,

You are truly our source of strength and provision. You are the place we must turn to for proper guidance and direction. Lord, I pray that you would help me to always turn to you and not rely on myself or even the abilities of others when it is not focused on you. I love you Lord. Amen.

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12:1 After Rehoboam’s rule was established and solidified, he and all Israel rejected the law of the Lord. 12:2 Because they were unfaithful to the Lord, in King Rehoboam’s fifth year, King Shishak of Egypt attacked Jerusalem. 12:3 He had 1,200 chariots, 60,000 horsemen, and an innumerable number of soldiers who accompanied him from Egypt, including Libyans, Sukkites, and Cushites. 12:4 He captured the fortified cities of Judah and marched against Jerusalem.

12:5 Shemaiah the prophet visited Rehoboam and the leaders of Judah who were assembled in Jerusalem because of Shishak. He said to them, “This is what the Lord says: ‘You have rejected me, so I have rejected you and will hand you over to Shishak.’”1 12:6 The leaders of Israel and the king humbled themselves and said, “The Lord is just.” 12:7 When the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, he gave this message to Shemaiah: “They have humbled themselves, so I will not destroy them. I will deliver them soon. My anger will not be unleashed against Jerusalem through Shishak. 12:8 Yet they will become his subjects, so they can experience how serving me differs from serving the surrounding nations.” – 2 Chronicles 12:1-8

God gave the nation of Judah a clear choice. They could either chose to serve God or they could choose to serve man. They mad the wrong choice and chose to serve man. While they did change their mind when they saw the nation of Egypt with is large army sitting at their doorstep, It was too late. God would definitely spare them, but they would need to learn what it was like to serve man in place of God. Throughout the history of Israel, they have been learning what it means to serve man and both the Bible and history books show they do not like it.

We are also confronted with this same choice. often, we feel like serving God is the way to life of boredom and servitude. However, the truth is that when we chose not to serve God, we are serving this world. When we are not following God’s way of living we are ruled by greed, lust, envy, hate, and many other base emotions and needs. Only through the transforming power of Jesus Christ can we live a life that shows the fruits of the spirit such as love, joy, peace, etc. (Galatians 5:22.) True freedom only comes when you serve God and are then released from the all consuming controls of this world. You will serve someone. Will it be God or man?

Heavenly Father,

We have deluded ourselves into believing that freedom comes when we reject you and your way of living. We have deluded ourselves into believing that we can live in this world, do our own thing, and be controlled by no one. However, true freedom only comes from you. Thank you for providing this freedom to us. Thank you for loving us so much that you provide us a real path to love, joy and peace. Lord, help me to serve you and live in your Spirit. I love you Lord. Amen.

10:1 Rehoboam traveled to Shechem, for all Israel had gathered in Shechem to make Rehoboam king. 10:2 When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard the news, he was still in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon. Jeroboam returned from Egypt. 10:3 They sent for him and Jeroboam and all Israel came and spoke to Rehoboam, saying, 10:4 Your father made us work too hard! Now if you lighten the demands he made and dont make us work as hard, we will serve you. 10:5 He said to them, Go away for three days, then return to me. So the people went away.

10:6 King Rehoboam consulted with the older advisers who had served his father Solomon when he had been alive. He asked them, How do you advise me to answer these people? 10:7 They said to him, If you are fair to these people, grant their request, and are cordial to them, they will be your servants from this time forward. 10:8 But Rehoboam rejected their advice and consulted the young advisers who served him, with whom he had grown up. 10:9 He asked them, How do you advise me to respond to these people who said to me, Lessen the demands your father placed on us? 10:10 The young advisers with whom Rehoboam had grown up said to him, Say this to these people who have said to you, Your father made us work hard, but now lighten our burden say this to them: I am a lot harsher than my father! 10:11 My father imposed heavy demands on you; I will make them even heavier. My father punished you with ordinary whips; I will punish you with whips that really sting your flesh. – 2 Chronicles 10:1-11

Rehoboam was new on the throne. He had the opportunity to gain the loyalty of his subjects for the rest of his reign or the ability to lose a significant portion of his kingdom. Rehoboam had two different groups of people he sought for advice. He discussed the issue with those his father had trusted (and we cannot forget that Solomon had extraordinarily God given wisdom without any advisors) and he discussed the issues with the “advisors” he had grown up with. Essentially, the first group had experienced life and learned from Rehoboam’s father, Solomon. The second group had not experienced much of life and had not taken (or had) the time to learn from those older and wiser. Rehoboam had a very important choice of who he would listen to and he failed to make the correct choice.

I can remember all too well how I felt about authority and advice from those older than me when I was very young. In fact, it was not all that long ago that I did not considered advice from someone more than a few years my senior as unimportant. However, God looks at the wisdom that comes with age as something we should cherish and use. All throughout our lives, regardless of our age, we need to surround ourselves with those who can give us God filled advice. A simple Bible search on the word “wisdom” will produce countless results with many of them focusing on the wisdom of God. However, interspersed throughout those results will be verses talking about our need to listen to the wise counsel of others.

I don’t really think of myself as a person of great wisdom. I know that I need to have people in my life that I can go to when I need another perspective. There are three people I generally look to – Bill, Kary and my wife, Megan. Bill, my best friend, and Megan (not only wife, but bestest friend) are two people I talk with about almost every relevant decision. However, they are in the same age range as myself. Often they do give wise counsel that I appreciate and heed. However, whenever I am facing a real challenging decision I also ask Kary. Why do I ask Kary? The answer is simple. Kary has experienced much more of life than I have. He has gone places that I am just now going or have yet to go. I also believe he has the Godly gift of wisdom. Is his advice often different or contrary to Megan’s or Bill’s? Usually, No. However, he often brings up things I have not thought of or points me to new questions I have not even thought to ask. Just like Rehoboam, I have those in my life who are similar in age and amount of experience. There advice is useful and necessary. I also have those who have experienced more of life. When we don’t have this we are more likely to make a mistake like Rehoboam and lose out on the best plan for our lives.

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for wisdom. Thank you for placing people in our lives who can show us the right and Godly way to go. Thank you for not allowing us to walk alone. Help me to heed the proper advice at the right time. Help me to see your hand in these situations and see your wisdom shining through. Help me to serve you. I love you Lord. Amen.

7:11 After Solomon finished building the Lords temple and the royal palace, and accomplished all his plans for the Lords temple and his royal palace, 7:12 the Lord appeared to Solomon at night and said to him: I have answered your prayer and chosen this place to be my temple where sacrifices are to be made. 7:13 When I close up the sky so that it doesnt rain, or command locusts to devour the lands vegetation, or send a plague among my people, 7:14 if my people, who belong to me, humble themselves, pray, seek to please me, and repudiate their sinful practices, then I will respond from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land. 7:15 Now I will be attentive and responsive to the prayers offered in this place. 7:16 Now I have chosen and consecrated this temple by making it my permanent home; I will be constantly present there. 7:17 You must serve me as your father David did. Do everything I commanded and obey my rules and regulations. 7:18 Then I will establish your dynasty, just as I promised your father David, You will not fail to have a successor ruling over Israel.

7:19 But if you people ever turn away from me, fail to obey the regulations and rules I instructed you to keep, and decide to serve and worship other gods, 7:20 then I will remove you from my land I have given you, I will abandon this temple I have consecrated with my presence, and I will make you an object of mockery and ridicule among all the nations. 7:21 As for this temple, which was once majestic, everyone who passes by it will be shocked and say, Why did the Lord do this to this land and this temple? 7:22 Others will then answer, Because they abandoned the Lord God of their ancestors, who led them out of Egypt. They embraced other gods whom they worshiped and served. That is why he brought all this disaster down on them. – 2 Chronicles 7:11-22

God promised the Israelites so much and he asked so very little. Here we have a perfect and Holy God who only asks for people to follow him with their whole heart. It is not really much to ask for, but the truth is, it is also the impossible ask. We are human. We fail. We cannot live up to this God given mandate of holiness. Or can we? Much has been written about our ability to truly live holy lives. Some believe that is is simply not possible, but this gives us little hope to even attempt holiness. Others believe we have to simply believe on God and we will live holy lives. The truth of our very existence show that this is not true. Even those who follow God the closest make mistakes on a regular basis. The truth is (at least as I see it) we are unable to be completely holy, but as we attempt each day to grow closer to our God we will grow closer to the ideal. We will never make is completely, but maybe we can be people like King David who God says is a man after his own heart.

I think the best part of this promise and warning comes from Solomon’s prayer in 2 Chronicles 6:18-42. Solomon makes it clear that people will fail, sin will happen, and God’s punishment will occur. Solomon does not ask that this punishment be averted. Instead he simply asks God to once again bless the people of Israel when they repent. God agrees to do this. I am thankful that we have the same opportunity today to repent and once again be a servant of the Most High God.

Heavenly Father,

I am not sure one day even passes without me sinning against you. Thank you for forgiving me. I know that I am an imperfect person, imperfect husband, imperfect father and an imperfect servant of God. Thank you for forgiving me. I also want to thank you for helping me grow closer to you. Thank you for helping me live just a little bit closer to your ideal. I love you Lord. Amen.