When God Unleashes His Fury

When the enemy comes are you protected

Ezekiel 38 As spectators, we watch but find it hard to comprehend the events portrayed here. We have many questions as to who Gog and Magog are. Through the centuries, the biblical authors ask why so many are angry against God’s people? Ezekiel is but the proclaimer, and we are but spectators like at a football game. Yet, God does not spare the graphic details of the “war party” He plans for His enemies. It is Prime Time Net-Flix in vivid detail.

In 2 Kings 6, we read of the story of Elisha’s servant!. When he awoke one morning, he was aghast! He said to Elisha, “Behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city!” He was frightened. Ezekiel 38 is a lot like that exact scenario. Elisha prayed: O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see. So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” [2Kings 6]

Do we pray that same prayer?

Ezekiel paints the picture that will be in the future and the events are frightening! Yet, God is in control, for He is sovereign, and He will place a hedge of protection around His own just like those horses and chariots. God will defeat the enemies, and His people will be protected. We can trust God, for He made a covenant with Abraham long ago, and He will not go back on His promises. He is a covenant keeper.

When God unleashes his fury, will you be sheltered under his wings or experience his wrath?

Beware of Fame

Fame is Fleeting

2Kings 14, 2Chron 26 You have heard this phrase: “the apple never falls far from the tree.” We find the truth of that parable in the life of King Uzziah, the son of Amaziah. Amaziah had a problem with pride, and Uzziah, it seems, had the same problem. So whereas many wanted to see the death of Amaziah and sent assassins to carry out that dastardly deed, they looked up to his son Uzziah (also called Azariah).

Uzziah was a good king for many years. He did what the Lord desired, and he reigned for 52 yrs. He did what the Lord approved just as his father Amaziah did…BUT. There is that little word again to draw our attention to the whole story. What happened after the “BUT?” The author of 2Kings doesn’t tell us the entire story, but the Chronicler does.  It seems that, like Amaziah, he had a problem with pride. He became very famous and powerful, and BUT, (there is that little word again BUT) once powerful, his pride destroyed him. His undoing was fame. He thought he could do not only what a king does but also what a priest does. So there is a lesson here for us; beware of fame because it becomes a temptation. Remember, these wise words: After pride came, disgrace followed; but wisdom came with humility.” [Prov 11:2]

Will Uzziah’s son learn from his grandfather and father? Stay tuned.

Proverbs 7: How to raise a wise child

Proverbs 7 is an instructional manual

Prov 7 “Instruction Manual”

Recently an author wrote to young men/women about life after high school. It was interestingly similar to an instructional manual and could have come right out of Proverbs 7! To the gals: If a guy calls you at 2 AM to “hang out,” he is not boyfriend material! To guys and gals: go to church, not just because your parents instructed you to do it, but because it is there that God speaks, and you need to hear his voice. Now is the time to strengthen your relationship with God and follow his plan. To guys and gals:  keep your morals and standards high. The author asked: Will it be challenging? Absolutely! Will you feel like the minority? Absolutely! Should you change to fit in? Absolutely not!

It is not a sin to be simple, but it is a sin to not grow from simpleton to maturity. “But solid food is for the mature, whose perceptions are trained by practice to discern both good and evil.” [Heb 5:24]

Be careful of becoming the fool:  “Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways – do not wander into her pathways; for she has brought down many fatally wounded, and all those she has slain are many.” [Prov 7:25]The warning is clear. “when desire conceives, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is full-grown, it gives birth to death. Do not be led astray” [James 1:15]

Are you the parent of a simpleton because of their age or because of their naiveté? Increase your parenting skills.

God is “My” Helper

God is awake 24/7

Ps 121 God is “My” Helper”

God is always alert to the prayers of His children.  All through the scriptures we come across this promise: the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous and his ears are open to their prayer. [1Pe 3:12]

Imagine Psalm 121 as a conversation between three friends about a need. The first asks a question, the second responds with an answer, the third responds with affirmation and reason.

#1 friend asks: from where does my help come?” and then answers his own question: “My help comes from the Lord.”  [vs 1 -2]

#2 friend responds with this encouragement;  may He not allow your foot to slip. [vs 3]

#3 friend affirms those words. The Lord is your protector, he never sleeps. He is always on the job 24/7. You can trust Him to be ready to protect you in whatever situation you are in. [vs 4, 7, 8]

Do you have a need today? Do you have a friend that will pray you through your needs?  Grab that friend and pray together. Pray with confidence: Lord, you are our helper; no matter what is on Your schedule for us, we will notfear what comes our way today or tomorrow or the next day because You are ever by our side! You are our Helper, our Sustainer, our Deliverer, our Jehovah Jireh

Childish Behavior

But they are all doing it!

1Sam 9-11 “and a Hard Life Lesson.”

Child-rearing comes with ups and downs. The old saying: sticks and stones may break my bones, but words shall never hurt me is so false. Samuel’s heart takes a nosedive when the elders come to him and say they are not pleased with his sons. Their excuse is that they do not follow Samuel’s ways. In reality, like spoiled children, they wanted a king so they could be like every other nation because “they are all doing it.” Today we call it kindergarten politics.

In his quiet time, God spoke to Samuel’s heart.

We all have times when others speak ill of us, and our heart is breaking, especially when it speaks to our parenting skills.  When that happens, return to these chapters in Samuel to hear God’s reassurance; they are not rejecting you but God because men are fickle.

When you experience something like this, you must remain strong and continue the path of godliness. There will always be people who will respond like this no matter what you do, how prayerful you are. They march to their own drumbeat. These are the hard lessons of life. Men choose men rather than God.

Beware of Choosing Second Best

Numbers 32:23 Some men from Gad, Reuben, and Manasseh saw the land on the east side of the Jordan, and, like Lot earlier, they wanted to settle there because it was ideal for cattle. As Moses listened to their argument, he became angry because these choices would discourage the other tribes. Like Lot, they were willing to take the easy route rather than being obedient to the Lord. There will always be the “second best.” Their choice would come at a price, one of which was a reoccurrence of what happened at Kadesh Barnea if they disobeyed. They saw what was in front but not what was ahead. They failed to trust that God knows best.  How often are we like that? We can’t see ahead, but we still think we know better than God.

Being older and wiser, Moses knew that their hearts were lukewarm, but also Moses too did not seek the Lord in this decision. Why he did not is uncertain, but we do know these men were like Lot, thinking of the moment before them rather than the future that God had planned.

Beware of being contented with the lesser when God has the best already set aside for you.  As Moses warned them, if they did not obey, their sin would be found out. [Num 32:23]  

“If…then…but”

Simple: obey and be blessed, disobey and be cursed

Lev 26 God desires that His people to be light among the nations. He desires that we obey Him and receive blessings but just like an errant child who has been warned, God will bring about cursings to correct His children. “Be sure your sins will find you out.” [Num 32:23] This is as true today as it was then: “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.” [Prov 22:15] Like the Israelites of old, today we too face fallow land and fallow hearts.

We foolishly say this was OT; not for us who live under grace and in the NT. A principle is a principle, and God is God. He is does not go back on his word or change his mind, for he is not a human being who changes his mind.” [1Sam 15:29] God desires that we obey Him now and forever so that He may bless us.  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” [1Jn 1:9] Then He will return and heal our land and our people.

Last Words in the Tapestry

WE are God's workmanship

Genesis 48 to 50 The covenantal blessing precedes the deaths of Jacob and Joseph as well as their last words. Abraham blessed Isaac and Ishmael, and now Jacob follows that tradition by blessing his 12 sons. In forward sight, Jacob blessed Judah noting that the Lion of Judah/the Messiah would come from his line. Judah’s is the longest, followed by Joseph’s. Moses continued that tradition in Deut 33 for all the tribes of Israel, minus Simeon, because of his sin of murdering the Shechemites.

As Jacob was nearing death, he blessed Joseph’s sons by placing his hands on their heads and symbolically passed on the gifts of heritage and inheritance. Jacob blessed the younger over the eldest just as has been seen throughout the book of Genesis: Isaac over Ishmael, Jacob over Esau, Joseph over Reuben, and Ephraim over Manasseh. Later Moses would continue that. Jacob thus passed on the privileges and blessing of land and peoples to Joseph’s sons just as he had received.

Jacob’s and Joseph’s last words are like the finishing threads of a tapestry. The underside threads may be scattered, but the top reveals God’s hand upon their life. Truly “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them,” [Eph 2:10].

What will your tapestry reveal? What are you passing on to your children and your children’s children?

“Family Dynamics”

Pray for the parents

Gen 35 to 37 It all began with Abraham, who fathered Ishmael and begged God to make him his legacy, but God said no. Isaac fathered Jacob and Esau, heard the prophecy that the younger would serve the elder but because he favored Esau, the eldest, he conveniently chose to forget God’s words. Jacob, favored by Rebekah, ignored his inner ear and deceived Isaac. Jacob, like his grandfather and father, played favorites. “Fathers, do not provoke your children, so they will not become disheartened.” [Col 3:21] Jacob’s behavior caused three heart behaviors to erupt amongst his sons: jealousy, envy, and hatred for Joseph.

The Proverbs author lists 7 character qualities God hates:

“haughty eyes, lying tongues, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift to run to evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a person who spreads discord among family members.”[Prov 6]

If we walk down that list, we see all 7 of these qualities in Jacob’s sons. Later Joseph would note: “you meant to harm me, but God intended it for a good purpose so that he could preserve the lives of many people.”  Amazingly, God can and will use our wickedness to accomplish his purposes because He can see the end from the beginning.

Fathers have a unique responsibility to raise children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Today take time to pray for the fathers ( and the mothers) of our children.  

“Prayers of Righteous Men/Women”

Prayer is effective

Genesis 25 & 26 What is the value of prayer? Why should I pray? What should I pray for? Over and over, the scriptures teach the value of prayer. As we follow the men and women in the pages of this sacred book, we see those who followed the Lord believed in prayer. Prayer is the answer to that which is upon our hearts. O Lord, hear my prayer!” [Ps 86:6] “Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God.” [Phil 4:6]

After many years, Isaac and Rebekah were still childless, yet Isaac did not seek other women to fill his quiver as others had done. Instead, Isaac “prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife because she was childless.” [Gen 25:21] God remembered Rebekah and opened her womb, a direct response that God was pleased and answered his prayer. Isaac’s example led Rebekah also to seek the face of the Lord when she was wondering what was going on in her womb once she conceived. 

In the NT, we find Zechariah offering prayers at the altar of incense at his time of chosen duty. An angel appears and tells him that his prayers for a son have been heard and answered. Truly, “The effective, fervent prayer of the righteous has great effectiveness.”[James 5:16] 

Prayer is the divine path to receiving answers from the Lord. What prayer need is on your heart today?