You must, You must not, You must, You must not

2 Kings 17 He loves me, He loves me not

Do you recall reciting this in your earlier years in a sing-song voice? We remember it when we see a daisy because of the rhythm. God has a sing-song pattern for us to remember what He says. It goes like this “you must worship Me, you must not worship other gods; you must worship Me, you must not worship other gods.” We don’t want to lessen God’s Word to a sing-song pattern but wonder if we said this over and over; it would remind us of what God’s Word says to do and not do.

One wonders if the children had that pattern would they have refrained from worshiping those idols from other pagan nations. They paid no attention to Yahweh; instead, they observed their earlier practices. They worshiped the Lord, and for an added benefit, they served their idols just as their fathers had done. It is no wonder then that God allowed the pagan Assyrians to conquer Israel, and soon the Babylonians will do this to Judah.

There is a lesson for us. We need to be in the Word daily. We need strong biblical leaders that will guide us and teach us. Unfortunately, today we see that we are just like the nation of Israel. Remember these words:  “For a person will reap what he sows because the person who sows to his own flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit.” [Gal 6]

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Be Discerning

1Kings 13 & Gal 1 & Acts 17 (Be A Berean)

After Paul left Galatia, grievous wolves had entered and taken captive their hearts. Paul said to them, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting…” The author of 1Kings has recorded the story of the disobedient unnamed prophet sent to the wicked king Jeroboam. Before we judge this prophet harshly, we need to stop and see ourselves in this tale.

The prophet had stood tall and strong in the face of Jeroboam to warn him! God had sent a sign by Jeroboam’s shriveled hand and the broken altar. He had refused Jeroboam’s gracious gift of a meal and rest. YET—on his way home, he stopped to rest. God had said not to eat or drink or return the same way, but not about resting. An old man approached him, saying he too was a prophet with an angelic message. Was the old man a true prophet? This is when we let our guard down! We wonder why the prophet did not ask God for confirmation. But…why do we not ask God when we hear someone say, God has told me to tell you this or that? Beware of contradicting messages; if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t. God is not a man that changes his mind. If we want to know, pray and ask for discernment. Be forewarned; the adversary can use even what seems like righteous words.  

Stay alert! Be on your guard. Check the source; be like the Bereans in Acts 17. Check to see if it is true.

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Lamps and Light

2Samuel 22:29/Psalm 18 “Indeed, you are my lamp, Lord. The Lord illumines the darkness around me.” The scriptures are filled with verses that teach us about the benefit of light.  Science has proven that plants lean toward the light, and if you want them to grow straight, you must rotate them each day. The Israelites were used to the Lamp of God, a.k.a. the pillar of fire, leading them in the desert. Jesus called himself the “Light of the World.” He illumines our soul with truth because, as he said: “I am the Truth.”

When God instructed the Israelites to build the Tabernacle, he chose the Menorah to illumine the Holy Place. It was to be made of beaten gold and exhibited seven branches. It was to be placed on the south side opposite the table of shewbread and illumined this place for the priests to do their work. The wicks were to be trimmed each week—what a beautiful picture of the Light illumining our work for Him.

Jesus illumines our soul with truth and is a guide out of the darkness of the sin-filled world in which we live and move and have our being. “Only bats, and owls, and unclean and ravenous things are fond of the night. Children of light walk in the light and reflect the light.” [Spurgeon]

Where are you reflecting the Light to others in this time of uncertainty?

Photo credit: One for Israel Ministries

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“Shelter in Place”

2Samuel 22

We are told to shelter in place as this Corona Virus slithers into our communities. We often think of the word “shelter” as a structure where we can be safe from intruders or marauders but listen to David “My God is my rocky summit where I take shelter.” [vs3] If we look closely we see that David wasn’t talking about a permanent structure but God Himself. He was talking about confiding his hope in God.

David notes there is a greater shelter that is not tangible but is spiritual. In the OT, the Israelites were given a shelter of fire by night and a cloud by day to protect them. It provided shade from the desert heat and protection from the desert freezing temperatures at night. However, we are not in the desert and yet we still need that shelter’s presence. We find it in the scriptures, in prayer, and in community, therefore constantly pray.

The Lord is our shelter: Psa 91:1 As for you, the one who lives in the shelter of the Most High, and resides in the protective shadow of the Sovereign One –

God’s chosen leaders: Isa 32:2 Each of them will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from a rainstorm; like streams of water in a dry region and like the shade of a large cliff in a parched land, therefore pray for them.

The world would have us fearful, but God is our shelter in times like this. Where do you go to shelter?

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The Product of an Indulgent Father

2 Samuel 16-18 Proverbs 22:6 wisely admonishes parents to “Train a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”  David was a man after God’s own heart yet he failed Parenting 101 class as well as the one man-one woman rule. He was a dysfunctional parent and husband to his many children of many wives. His first child, Absalom, was the first child with honors awaiting him to rule after his father passed off the scene but as we read this story we see that Absalom was foolish, prideful, arrogant, bitter and lacked respect for his father and the role he should inherit. And so now he seeks to usurp the king’s position all because David indulged him. Spoiled children do make a king or queen as we can ascertain from history, not just here.

And all of this began one night long ago when David allowed lust to rule rather than God.

We can learn a lot from this story if we are willing to look. Look at the fruit of indulgence. Look at the fruit of not being discerning. David fits all categories. If we read Psalm 55 along with today’s passage we see the heart of David. We wish we could undo life but we can’t. It is wiser to learn from our mistakes and seek the heart of God.

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Lucky Charms Don’t Cut It!

1Samuel 4 to 7 The whole nation noted that God had raised Samuel as a prophet in their midst. But, just because there is a godly man in our midst, however, does not mean men have changed their ways. The Israelites went out to fight against the Philistines and were defeated and returned, asking: “why did the Lord let us be defeated?” Instead of waiting on God’s answer, they decided to remove the Ark of the Covenant from its place and take it with them into battle, much like a lucky charm.

There is a principle here:

Right questions do not have the right answers when we do not seek his face. 

The Israelites were not only defeated again, but this time, the Philistines captured the Ark. God will not be mocked! Eli’s sons died in battle; the Ark was captured, and now God would prove He was the greater God. 

The Philistines knew that the Hebrews God had struck down the Egyptians with all sorts of plagues, but like men today, they refused to yield to him. “Although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God…they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for an image…and served the creation rather than the Creator.” [Rom 1 selected verses] 

 God is God, and He will not share His glory with a stone god or any god. Do you have a stone idol in your life that you are trusting in? Listen to the psalmist? “Some trust in chariots and others in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” [Psa 20:7 ]

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God Directs Our Steps

Ruth 1-4  In Judges, the people ignored and rebelled against God, and every man did what was right in his own heart. Yet God can and will direct our steps, whether we can see it or not.  The time frame is the same, but the responses are 180 degrees apart. One Levite left us with a sour taste, but in Ruth, the sweetness of His aroma draws us to Him.

A famine is a test; will you trust God or self?  Elimelech, from Bethlehem, chose to trust in his ways, not God’s. He moved his family to Moab, the country that lived, breathed, and worshiped the idols of wood and stone. Yet, God was at work to change the heart of one woman that we might know the truth of Isaiah 55, “my ways are higher than yours.”

In Moab, Elimelech and his two sons passed away, leaving Naomi destitute. The rumor mills are busy, and Naomi hears that there is food in Israel now. Deciding to return to her roots in Bethlehem, she begged her daughters-in-law to return to Moab. But God had other plans for God is a promise keeper and He is in the business of preparing the Messianic line through one submissive daughter-in-law, Ruth, who chooses to accompany Naomi with these famous words: “your God will be my God.”

God can and will work even if we fail to trust Him. He has his people ready to complete his promise and bring them to Jesus.

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What principles guide your life?

Judges 18-19 As the Israelites moved farther and farther away from Yahweh, people began to look for other means to bring them success. Unfortunately, the principle of pursuing God’s kingdom and his righteousness has taken a back seat. Meet Micah, whose name means “who is like God” as an example. He lived in the time when Israel had no king, and each man did what he considered right. He lived just a stone’s throw from the tent of God in Shiloh, but God’s word and principles were far from his memories of a holy lifestyle. Instead, if someone stole from you and you had the opportunity to steal back, it was rewarded with words of affirmation. How far they have fallen to have forgotten the Commandment: “Thou shalt not steal.” Micah steals, but instead of correcting him, his own mother “blesses” and has an idol made to honor his treachery. Then Micah bribed the Levite to stay with him offering ten pieces of silver per year. That loyalty lasted until a better offer came to the Levite. Micah then met his match in the Danites, who plundered an innocent town “just because” they were little and peaceful and when he faced them was told to “back off,” or he would face the same consequences.

These stories remind us of gang wars and the memory of Al Capone; bribery, murder, payoffs, and more. When God is absent, men’s hearts are evil continually as they look for prosperity, and the wealth and prosperity gospel takes precedence. We read about it in Noah’s day and now again here in Micah’s day and fast forward to today.

It is stories like this that should drive us back to God and His word. Proverbs 3: do not let mercy and truth leave you; bind them around your neck. Acknowledge God and follow Him in all your ways, and he will make your paths straight.

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How much faith do you have?

faith ps 16 to 18

Judges 13 This chapter reveals a God who cares for His people even if they don’t seem to care for Him. God loves all His people, especially barren women and wants to bless these them. For four chapters, we read about Samson, the son of Manoah and “Mrs. Manoah.” It is the “Mrs.” that has the initial contact with the angel of God. It is she that quoted verbatim his words to her husband, Manoah. But, like Zechariah, when Manoah heard that his wife would bear a child, he needed more confirmation. And, both sons, John the Baptist and Samson would be a Nazarite.

Mr. Manoah may not have understood all the details about Samson’s birth, but he is commended for his obedience and faith as he entreated the Lord.  And like Jacob, he wanted to know the name of the “man of God.” He needs confirmation on all accounts. After seeing the miracle of the flame and the rising of the angel to heaven, he then has a crisis of belief: “surely we will die for we have seen God.”  Not so, Mrs. Manoah! She was perceptive: look at the evidence, God answered our prayer, he accepted our offering, he wouldn’t have shown us these things or let us hear things like this! How great was her faith! And God blessed her with a son.

When God speaks, do we believe Him 100 %! Or do we need more confirmation like Manoah and Zechariah did?

 

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Lessons from the Gibeonites

Joshua 10 deceitful2aJoshua 9 – 10 Have you ever been duped? To be duped means another has taken advantage of you in some clever way. Take a lesson from Joshua who was deceived or duped by the Gibeonites.

One of the lessons Moses sought to impress upon his servant was to always check with God before stepping out. Joshua is learning this lesson fast and furiously. First, he failed to check with God about Ai, and now he fails to check with God about the Gibeonites. In both circumstances, Joshua failed, but God still used him in His service, and that is something we need to remember. Just because you failed once doesn’t mean God can’t and won’t use you. God uses imperfect people to complete His perfect plan.

God allows tests into our life to check our understanding of His Word. He also allows them to test our faith and obedience to Him. The city of Ai and the tribe of the Gibeonites was Joshua’s test. What is yours?

The Gibeonites were cunning and deceitful, and we will meet those people as we traverse the world. Joshua assumed they had a good motive from all appearances, but they were lying. We can only see through the lies and facades with God’s eyes. Joshua is an example of allowing his own eyes and the pity he felt for the Gibeonites to lead him rather than God’s eyes.

We must be discerning, and the only way we can be is through prayer and scripture and yes, sometimes seeking wise counsel. Joshua failed on all points; how about you?

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