Archive for November, 2007

2 Chronicles 21

Jehoram takes over as king when Jehoshaphat dies.  Things turn quickly away from God.  The first thing Jehoram does is kill all his brothers.  No reason to take a chance that one of them might make a run for the throne.  This guy is a bad egg.  Scripture tells us: “God considered him an evil man”.  He did not follow in the footsteps of his father and walk with God.  In fact, he turned completely the other way and married “into the Ahab dynasty” which is exactly what God said not to do.  “He brazenly led Jerusalem away from God”.  Oh how fast things change.  There is one statement that stands out to me about how Jehoshaphat raised his kids.  Check out what it says here: “Their father had lavished them with gifts–silver, gold, and other valuables, plus the fortress cities in Judah. But Jehoram was his firstborn son and he gave him the kingdom of Judah”.  Maybe the word spoiled comes to mind here.  These kids were not lacking and did not learn to trust and obey God.  In a matter of days the kingdom moves away from God – they didn’t need Him or anyone for that matter.  Of course God responds.  We have learned that God often waits for us to move before He takes action.  Well that works both ways.  Jehoram takes action to move away, God “is going to afflict your people…with a terrible plague”.  He gives them a terrible disease and the enemies come in and route the kingdom.  A very prominent place is turned upside down.  Jehoram only lasts 8 years on the throne, and the last two he spent “writhing in pain”.  What a lesson guys.  We have to stay tuned into God and we have to make sure our kids learn that as well.  Walking away from God is not a wise decision.  If we don’t train up the next generation correctly, we face similar results.  “No tears shed when he died”.  He was a loser of a king.

Joel 3

Joel ends his book with a prophecy of how God will come to the aid of His people Israel.  The enemies are in for a very tough time, but God’s blessing will be enormous for those whom He has chosen.  Based on God’s response, Joel says: “Then you’ll know for sure that I’m your God”.  We can see it if we only look guys.  He is our God.  He is our fortress.  He is our strength.  He is our source of blessing.  We can look forward to promises like this if we will only walk with our Lord – what a vision Joel paints for us: “What a day! Wine streaming off the mountains, Milk rivering out of the hills, water flowing everywhere”.  Can you see it.  God’s hand of blessing is just waiting to be turned on for us.  He wants to  bless us indeed.  He will if we only get lined up with His plan and direction.  For those who are not, they will be “reduced to weeds…turned into barren badlands”.  Things are not good for those who are not in God’s plan.  God also  promises forgiveness along with His blessing if we get it right with Him.  We have so much to look forward to in our relationship with the Father.  Lord help us walk in your ways and follow your leading – trust and obey!

Joel 2

Joel finishes chapter 2 with some great news.  The devastation is over.  Look at how it ends: “At that, God went into action…” .  At what you may be wondering.  The first half of the book tells us what the people did to get right with God.  There was a long list of things – all focused on renewing the relationship with God the Father.  When did God  move?  “At that” – when the people took action.  Over and over the scriptures repeat the need for us to move first and then God is free to get after it.  We hold the release of God’s power in our freedom of choice.  That is what free will is all about.  God waits for us to begin, even with just a step, to start doing the right thing and then He immediately takes action.  Guys – it doesn’t happen when we are sitting back waiting for God to move. It happens when we are actively pursuing God’s will and moving toward Him.  Here it is again.  “At that” simple set of actions taken by the people to get right with God – He opened the blessings from heaven and everything got good again – “bumper crop…plenty of food….plenty”.  Joel also says “that’s just the beginning….your old men will dream, your young men will see visions”.  God wants to give us access to His will for our lives.  He wants us to see from His perspective.When does that happen?  When we are in right relationship – when we are seeking Him – when we are moving toward Him.  He wants us to know His mind and our future.  Joel goes on to say “I’ll even pour out my Spirit on the servants”.  How much more on His children then guys.  God wants us to be full of His love and is waiting for us to move first.  Are  you moving toward Him?  Are you focused on being a man of God that is plugged in to His power?  Are you committed to living life for Him?  If we do – He is ready to take action – not just a little – but an overwhelming response of His love and impact in our lives.  Joel ends with this promise: “Whoever calls, “Help, GOD!’ gets help”.  God is there and waiting for us to call.  He wants to be intimately involved in our lives.  He will move, but we have to free Him to do that.  He doesn’t just do it without us opening that door.  Guys – take action and let God loose in your life.  Watch what He does.  Share that with your children and this group.  He is a God who can’t wait to make a difference through you!

Joel 2

Joel finishes chapter 2 with some great news.  The devastation is over.  Look at how it ends: “At that, God went into action…” .  At what you may be wondering.  The first half of the book tells us what the people did to get right with God.  There was a long list of things – all focused on renewing the relationship with God the Father.  When did God  move?  “At that” – when the people took action.  Over and over the scriptures repeat the need for us to move first and then God is free to get after it.  We hold the release of God’s power in our freedom of choice.  That is what free will is all about.  God waits for us to begin, even with just a step, to start doing the right thing and then He immediately takes action.  Guys – it doesn’t happen when we are sitting back waiting for God to move. It happens when we are actively pursuing God’s will and moving toward Him.  Here it is again.  “At that” simple set of actions taken by the people to get right with God – He opened the blessings from heaven and everything got good again – “bumper crop…plenty of food….plenty”.  Joel also says “that’s just the beginning….your old men will dream, your young men will see visions”.  God wants to give us access to His will for our lives.  He wants us to see from His perspective.When does that happen?  When we are in right relationship – when we are seeking Him – when we are moving toward Him.  He wants us to know His mind and our future.  Joel goes on to say “I’ll even pour out my Spirit on the servants”.  How much more on His children then guys.  God wants us to be full of His love and is waiting for us to move first.  Are  you moving toward Him?  Are you focused on being a man of God that is plugged in to His power?  Are you committed to living life for Him?  If we do – He is ready to take action – not just a little – but an overwhelming response of His love and impact in our lives.  Joel ends with this promise: “Whoever calls, “Help, GOD!’ gets help”.  God is there and waiting for us to call.  He wants to be intimately involved in our lives.  He will move, but we have to free Him to do that.  He doesn’t just do it without us opening that door.  Guys – take action and let God loose in your life.  Watch what He does.  Share that with your children and this group.  He is a God who can’t wait to make a difference through you!

Joel 2

Joel paints a bleak picture in the first part of chapter 2 regarding the doom that is facing the people.  But he gives them hope – check this out: “Come back to me and really mean it! Come fasting and weeping, sorry for your sins”.  God is a God of second chances.  He is ready to welcome us back if we “change your life, not just your clothes”.  We need to understand just how deep the Father’s love for us really is.  Joel gives them a list of actions to take – pay attention to these things:

1.      Blow the rams trumpet

2.      Declare a day of repentance

3.      A Holy fast day

4.      Call a public meeting

5.      Get everyone there

6.      Consecrate the congregation

7.      Make sure the elders come

8.      Bring the children too (even nursing babies)

9.      Even men and women on their honeymoon

10.  Weep tears of repentance

11.  Let the priests intercede

These are the steps Joel gives to get things right with God.  It is an entire congregation thing – everyone from nursing babies to honeymooners to elders are to be there and the priests are to consecrate, intercede and lead the people in repentance.  God wants us to come home – to come back to Him and His love and grace.  He stands there waiting.  Sometimes we feel like we have done something that keeps us away from Him.  In reality, nothing can ever separate us from the love of God.  If we are willing to repent and come back, He stands there ready to bring us unto Himself.  Are you back with God?  Are you on a personal level with Him?  That is His desire for each of us.  And He stands ready to welcome us back!

Joel 1

 Joel writes about a very difficult set of circumstances for the people of his day.  Things are bad, very bad, and God is trying to get their attention.  This first chapter lays out the devestation that is happening in the land.  There is no food, there is no worship, there is no joy.  Joel tells the people to “round up everyone in the country and get them into God’s sanctuary for serious prayer to God”.  Seems that the people have moved very far away from God.  They are focused on themselves and fixing the problems on their own.   It isn’t working very well.  “The whole country is burning up”.  It is hot and dry – there is no water and the crops have failed.  What did not fail the insects have destroyed.  Joel sets the stage for what has to happen – revival.  Pay attention to this message: “Make sure you tell your children, and your children tell their children, and their children their children. Don’t let this message die out”.  Guys – people don’t get the message of God’s love by osmosis.  It is our job as the spiritual leader in our home to “train up a child in the way he should go”.  That is the only way it will happen.  It is not the job of the church, or the school, or the village – it is the job of the men to tell their children about God.  It is our job – we can’t duck and whimp out here – it is a God given responsibility that we need to step up and lead.  The stakes are high.  This book really is about what happens when people forget about God.  This is an example of the legacy of men who failed to do their job.  They did not teach their children generations earlier and now the country is in despair.  Things are not bad – they are a disaster.  Scripture says “this is serious business”.  It really is guys.  We often want to defer to our wives or the church to do the spiritual training.  It doesn’t really fit us well, am I right?  We want to be focused on the serious and important stuff – work, hunting, football…..  There is nothing more important for us than what Joel tells us here.  We cannot let the message of God’s truth and love “die out” – we must tell our children, grand children and great grand children.  Are you doing the heavy lifting of spiritual training in your family?  What legacy will future generations have because of the investment you are making today?

2 Chronicles 20

Jehoshaphat has won a huge battle, not by fighting at all, but by obeying and trusting God.  Now it is time to gather the plunder and they “found more loot than they could carry off” according to scripture.  What a victory.  “It took three days to cart it away”.  That is one big victory.  J leads the people back to Jerusalem in an “exuberant parade”.  They celebrate God’s power and as a result of that day, there were no more attacks on the kingdom during J’s 25 year reign.  Guys – I want you to catch what scripture tells us about this man: “He continued the kind of life characteristic of his father Asa–no detours, no dead-ends–pleasing GOD with his life”.  He wasn’t perfect – but his foundation in the faith carried him into a life pleasing of God.  He was single minded in his pursuit of the Father.  God was pleased with most of what he did.  You may remember that he had made one prior big boo boo when he associated with the wrong folks.  Unfortunately, he does it again at the end of his life.  Pay attention to what we are told: “Late in life Jehoshaphat formed a trading syndicate with Ahaziah king of Israel–which was very wrong of him to do….because you joined forces with Ahaziah, GOD has shipwrecked your work”.  So twice in his life J cuts deals with folks that are not pleasing to God.  The results of this last attempt to gain riches by working with the wrong partner was for naught as all the ships they built were smashed and “nothing ever came of the trade partnership”.  It reminds me of scripture that tells us “there is a way which seems right to a man, but the end thereof is death”.  We can’t do things just because they “seem right” to us.  God cares about the people and the details of how we live and do business.  Jehoshaphat was referred to as a godly man who pleased God.  But he derailed when he connected with the wrong people.  We just can’t allow the things of this world to get between us and God.  We can’t just run off and do things without checking with the Father first.  Too often I do exactly that and then wonder why it doesn’t work out.  We need to learn to pray first and obey, not make decisions and ask God to bless whatever it is we decide to do.  There is a tough balancing act between all these decisions we face as leaders.  When to act and when to wait?  The key is to pray, pray and pray some more and then obey what God has shown us.  I believe God will give us direction if we seek it.  J didn’t do that in either of his failed relationships.  But he did when faced with big battle problems and God was always there. 

2 Chronicles 20

Jehoshaphat (J for short) wakes up to a real problem.  The armies from around his kingdom are poised to attack.  Things look bleak.  Guess what happens?  Shaken, Jehoshaphat prayed. He went to GOD for help…country of Judah united in seeking GOD’s help”.  J has been a pretty good man for the most part.  He screwed up a bit in associating with the wrong folks, but overall he was a man single minded in his following of God.  Now that things look tough, he runs to God.  That is the right response guys.  Our default needs to be to seek God, not try and deal with trouble on our own.  Too often God is the last resort, not the first reaction when issues fly our way.  Do you always run to God when you are “shaken” by something bigger than you can handle?  Or do you try to fix it first and then when you run out of your own ability run to God?  I confess the latter is my approach too many times.  God desires that we seek Him first.  He wants to act.  J calls the entire nation together – men, women and children – and gives them this message: “We don’t know what to do; we’re looking to you.  Everyone in Judah was there–little children, wives, sons–all present and attentive to GOD”.  How’s that for setting the tone for the upcoming battle.  He pretty much admits he can’t handle things and it is up to God.  He calls for a nationwide day of fasting and prayer and God responds with this truth: “This is God’s war, not yours….You won’t have to lift a hand in this battle; just stand firm… March out boldly”.  God takes responsibility here for the results.  He only asks J and the team to do one thing – to march out boldly.  There is some faith required here.  How can you march boldly when you are overpowered and know you are out manned in every way?  By trusting God to be true to His word.  Pay very close attention to what happens next: “As soon as they started shouting and praising, GOD set ambushes… all ended up killed…not a living soul among them”.  God showed up WHEN J and his men did what God required.  As soon as they obeyed – God was set free to act on their behalf.  Scripture is full of examples like this guys.  God shows up when people obey.  The Red Sea parts when they stick their toe in the water, Peter walks on water when he gets out of the boat and on and on it goes.  God is always true to His word.  Sometimes though it takes us “marching out boldly” to bring that power into action.  More often than not we release God’s power when we are obedient.  The secret to success – PRAY and OBEY and then let God handle the results.  J shows it to us clearly as do many other great men of faith in scripture.  Let’s make that our way of living life with our Father and the world we are part of.

2 Chronicles 19

 Jehoshaphat is confronted by Jehu about his actions.  You have no business helping evil, cozying up to GOD-haters. Because you did this, GOD is good and angry with you. 3 But you’re not all bad–you made a clean sweep of the polluting sex-and-religion shrines; and you were single-minded in seeking God.”  At first read this seems a little contradictory, but when you think about it, there is a difference between how Jehoshaphat lived (single minded) and who he associated with (cozying up to).  J (going to short cut his name now as it is too long) lived his personal life walking with God but his public live associating with the wrong crowd.  I see this pattern often in the lives of Christians, myself included.  Call it closet Christianity or whatever you want, but too often we are fine with God when we are alone and don’t live it on our shirtsleeve in public.  I was that way for far too many years.  I thought there had to be a separation between faith and work – that I couldn’t boldly live for Jesus in the marketplace.  I have come to understand that is exactly where God wants me to live for Him – in the everyday part of life.  I need to be very careful in how I live and who I associate with in the marketplace.  Having a great relationship with God personally is very important – don’t get me wrong – but living that relationship in the day to day is equally as important and cannot be separated.  I don’t want to be half right with God.  I want to hear the “well done good and faithful servant” greeting, not the “but you’re not all bad” when I get to heaven.  J does give it straight to those who he charged to be judges: “Live in fear of God – be most careful, for God hates dishonesty, partiality, and bribery….do you work in the fear of God; be dependable and honest in your duties”.  He has great counsel for how we should live as we do our jobs.  His mistake was being unwilling to stay away from people who were “God haters” – folks who refused to live life the way God desired and commanded.  I know from experience that who we associate with will impact how we act and live over time.  We need to surround ourselves with godly men and also make sure we remain godly ourselves in how we relate to those around us.  Be bold and diligent” is how J ends the chapter.  What great counsel for how then we should live!

2 Chronicles 18

 Jehoshaphat makes a mistake in chapter 18 and creates a “marriage alliance” with Ahab, king of Israel.  To celebrate Jehoshaphat makes a visit to see him in Samaria.  I knew I liked Jehoshaphat for a few reasons but check this out: they “celebrated…..huge barbeque…..all the lamb and beef you could eat”.  Guess I see now why he went.  I love that stuff.  But unfortunately Jehoshaphat gets pulled into Ahab’s desire to attack an enemy and go to war.  Jehoshaphat does try and put the skids on – look at what he insists: “But before you do anything, ask GOD for guidance”.  He said he would go and help do battle with this caveat.  Ahab calls all the priests together and they wholeheartedly say go for it.  But Jehoshaphat doesn’t feel comfortable – he asks if there are any other priests and of course there is one more – Micaiah – whom Ahab doesn’t like because he always tells the truth not what the king wants to hear.  And that happens again.  Micaiah tells them they will not have a cake walk and the king will be killed.  Micaiah says it like this: “As sure as GOD lives, what God says, I’ll say”.  Not willing to say what is popular or wanted – just the truth, the whole truth.  And as you would expect from a prophet, he is right and Ahab dies that day in battle.  Jehoshaphat is captured by the enemy “but God intervened and they let him go”.  He was a lucky man that day.  How did Ahab die?  He had been careful to dress as just one of the tens of thousands of regular warriors so they couldn’t identify him.  Scripture has this play by play: “Just then someone, without aiming, shot an arrow into the crowd and hit the king of Israel in the chink of his armor”.  Don’t tell me that God is not in control of all things.  And never doubt that the Word of God will come true.  Jehoshaphat learned a hard lesson here.  He almost died and lost his kingdom because he chose to associate with a king who led him down a bad path.  He tried to follow his gut and get God involved in direction, but in the end, he was pulled along down a path contrary to God’s desire.  Who we run with matters men.  Those we associate with can lead us places we don’t want to go.  We need to pay close attention to that.

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