Asa

Today we get the opportunity to hear and learn from the life of another king in Asa. While you read through 2 Chronicles 14-16, it has made sense to put these three chapters into two parts. In Asa’s 41 years of reign, after taking over for his father Abijah, Asa for many of his years did what was right and good in the eyes of the Lord, and then towards the ending reign of his life, allowed his walk to drift away from the Lord, making a difference in his ending days.

Part 1

2 Chronicles 14:2 Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God.

Here were some of his actions while Asa first reigned.

  • He removed the alters
  • He smashed the sacred stones
  • He cut down Asherah poles
  • He commanded others to seek and obey Lord

After Asa had done these things, the Lord gave him rest. During this rest, an army formed against Asa and his army. Asa and his army weres outnumbered and under-resourced in the chariot department. Then Asa gives a prayer that would provide victory for any Christian.

2 Chronicles 14:11 Then Asa called to the Lord his God and said, “Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. Lord, you are our God; do not let mere mortals prevail against you.”

This prayer provides absolute confidence in God. The numbers didn’t matter when you have God on your side. There was a total commitment to God, and they gave themselves into God’s hands to accomplish His purpose. Asa and his army had courage in the Lord’s name and reminded the Lord how mere mortals wouldn’t prevail against Him.

What odds are you facing today? Have confidence, commitment, and courage that the Lord can have victory in whatever you are facing.

Part 2

2 Chronicles 15:1-2 The Spirit of God came on Azariah son of Oded. 2 He went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin. The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.

The 35th year of Asa’s reign. He took silver and gold out of the Lord’s temple and gave it to Aram. Avoiding a battle, he pays of Aram. Seer comes and says Asa had messed up.

Verse 16:9 For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war.”

Asa becomes mad and brutally oppresses others. Thirty-nine years afflicted with a disease in his feet, verse 12, didn’t seek help from the Lord, only physicians. In Asa’s 41st year as king, he died.

How could this be? A king who stood so tall in times of victory gave a prayer to the Lord of full commitment. Still, Asa forgot who had trusted throughout his life. Sadly, Asa was eventually afflicted with a disease in his feet.  At this time, he only looked to physicians and not God as he had before.

As we live on this earth, experiences can either draw us closer or farther to our Lord. Unfortunately, we can stray if we start to rely on our strength and pride. We can’t let days slip away; we are not walking with God. We need to make the daily choice to trust God with everything.

Dear God our Father,  We pray for courage, commitment, and confidence in everything you have for our lives. I pray that through our days we don’t lose sight of you and rely on ourselves.  Help us to share this trust and confidence with others through our commitment to you in all aspects of our life. Amen

Jabez

Today’s Reading :  I Chronicles 4:9-10

What is in a name? When Jillian and I were expecting our children, we wanted them to have names that would reflect some part of their history and heritage.  We felt that the name that they had would create a personality or presence that would continue with them.  After long hours of discussions and deep thought we decided that the children would have specific names that would be part of our families’ histories and a reflection of them.

Oliver, was named from our grandfathers.  Upon research we found that Oliver has many possible linkages:  Latin term/name olivarius “olive tree planter”, or the Old Norse Óleifr (Ólaf); or a genuinely West Germanic name, perhaps from ala- “all” and wēra “true” “ All true” , or from alf “elf” and hari “army, warrior” “ Elf Army” .  As Oliver has grown up into a young man, I can identify that the name and the person that he is becoming are true and I am excited to see where this “army of elves” will go.

Ruby, was named in memory of grandmothers.   Her name meaning is associated with the precious stone that ultimately derived from Latin ruber “red”.  Ruby is also considered the short feminine form of the biblical name, Reuben, meaning, “behold, a son” in Hebrew; behold a daughter.  This is name seems to fit her from birth, as she was the first daughter that we had, but also due to her personality.  She is my spicy and passionate child.  She is also one of the most precious and tenderhearted individuals I know.

Nadya is the French form of the Russian Nadya, a nickname form of Nadezha, which is directly derived from the word meaning, “hope”.  Nadya was named for the true namesake of hope.  Hope for the peace and joy of God in our lives.   Jillian and I had experienced many highs and lows as parents with Oliver and Ruby through countless hospitalizations and health issues that we purposefully and intentionally gave her name with a specific blessing.  Nadya has been a true inspiration and joy to our family and continues to give us hope daily.

 

In the reading we are presented with a different naming process:  I Chronicles 4:9-10

Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez,[a] saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” 10 Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.

 

After much research, I was unable to find the direct mother and father of Jabez, but he is known as a direct descendant of Judah and his son Perez.  This would have been a big deal in the ancient times.  The lineage of the person would direct your path in life as well as your name.  Jabez was of the same line of David and Christ.  He knew that he was blessed through God’s anointing his forefathers Israel, Judah, and Perez.

He knew that the name that is given to you does not determine your outlook.  He would have been familiar with the story of his forefather Jacob being converted to Israel.  He would have been familiar with the story of his forefather Perez and how was conceived and how he preserved through these obstacles.  Jabez was aware of his name, it was rooted in sorrow and pain, but he was determine that God would create a blessing in the midst of the anguish and turmoil that he produced in coming into the world.

With the knowledge of whose he was (God’s, YHWH, Jehovah) and the circumstances that placed on him from his name, Jabez knew he had to speak it into existence and create a new direction for his life.  Jabez spoke such power that he is known today for his courage and faith.  He was known to an extent that there was a place: either a city or region that bore his name I Chronicles 2:55.

The example that Jabez has made for us is that no matter the situations that we are born into or have created ourselves, we are still God’s children and we are able to change the situation when we acknowledge God’s presence in us and that we are worthy of his blessings.

Josiah

For the first time ever, I am attempting to read the Bible from beginning to end this year.  I might be a little behind, but my goal is to finish by the end of 2019.  I am reading the One Year Chronological Bible so at this point, I have read through much of the Old Testament.  Many times over the past months I have read about the people constructing and then praising “asherah poles”.  To this day I still can’t fully comprehend why people might stand around a carved pole of some material and worship it.  It seems kind of silly that they think an object could change their life.    Only when I put it into today’s context do I understand that what people put their time and energy into, becomes worship.  In my house and in my life I have an asherah pole.  No, you will not come to my house and see some crazy sculpture in my yard. But, you will see me sitting in a chair in my house with my phone in my hand.  I am not proud to put this out there, but my phone has become my asherah pole.  I spend too many minutes looking at it, living through what I see other people doing.  Thinking that it is motivating me and giving me ideas.  But guess what?  I never put those ideas into motion, because I run out of time from spending too much time worshipping my phone. We barely have our TV on anymore, and normally that would be a great thing, but it is only because we have replaced the TV with a phone.  How can we truly devote ourselves to serving God when we might be distracted by all that is going on with our phone in our hand?

2 Kings 23 is about King Josiah and his life.  Josiah was the King of Judah from approximately 640 to 609 B.C.  He is known as one of the world’s youngest kings, beginning his reign at age 8 after his father King Amon died.  Josiah did what was right in the eyes of the Lord (2 Kings 22:2).  When he was just 18 years old, Josiah raised money to repair the temple.  During the repairs the Book of the Law was found.  Josiah tore his clothes as a sign of mourning and repentance after reading all that the book contained.  

King Josiah then called for a time of national repentance.  Many reforms followed this time.  The temple was cleaned from all objects of pagan worship.  All idolatrous places and asherah poles were demolished. 

The king removed the Asherah pole from the Lord’s Temple and took it outside Jerusalem to the Kidron Valley, where he burned it.  Then he ground the ashes of the pole to dust and threw the dust over the graves of the people. 2 Kings 23:6

He got rid of priests who were leading people astray from the one true God.  Josiah moved further out of the city, ridding all areas and land of all pagan shrines and altars.

Josiah also got rid of the mediums and psychics, the household gods, the idols, an every other kind of detestable practice, both in Jerusalem and throughout the land of Judah.  He did this in obedience to the laws written in the scroll that Hilkiah the priest had found in the Lord’s Temple.  Never before had there been a king like Josiah, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and soul and strength, obeying all the laws of Moses.  And there has bever been a king like him since.                                      2 Kings 23:24 &25

Josiah’s zeal pleased God.  God desires us all to have a desire to rid every trace of sin in our life.  We have replaced asherah poles with phones, altars with food, and we worship our time more than we worship God.  

Josiah was the first and only King to please God and keep continuous devotion to Him.  What is it in your life that you may be worshipping a little too much?  I challenge you to rid that time consuming thing from your life.  See what God can replace it with.  

From Geha-A to Gehazi

Today’s reading is on Elisha’s servant Gehazi in 2 Kings 5.

You know when you take a bite of something delicious, immediately followed by a rotten, disgusting one? Or when some pleasing scent passes by your notice, only to be replaced in the next moment by the smell of old garbage or sewage? That foul sensation, made all the more unpleasant from the contrast provided by the enjoyable one beforehand, reminds me a little bit of Gehazi in this passage. Elisha, having been passed the Lord’s blessings that resided in his master Elijah, was in his own right showing the miraculous power of the Lord. 2 Kings 5 tells of the meeting of Elisha and Naaman, a powerful army commander stricken with leprosy, asking for help. After obeying Elisha’s guidance and declaring how he has seen the Lord’s power for himself, Naaman offers payment to the prophet as reward. Elisha refuses, Naaman offers allegiance to God and goes on his way.

Enter Gehazi. Not able to hold his own tongue when the opportunity presents itself, he follows after Naaman, asking for two talents of silver in his master’s name. Two talents of silver – the wage of a few dozen people for about two months – is a huge amount for one person to ask for, much less for something they themselves didn’t do. After profiting off of God’s work enacted through his master, Elisha instead decides to pay Gehazi’s inequity with the leprosy Naaman had removed. Through receiving judgement for his actions this way, we see a few sobering reminders of how easy it can be to misstep in our faith.

  • At this point, Gehazi has witnessed a number of miracles in service of Elisha, including raising the dead. He is personally witnessing incredible displays of God’s command over all things, yet still fails to recognize the levity and weight of what he’s seen. I admit to being guilty of this – there are miracles the Lord performs every day that I might see and jump to assume “oh, that’s just how the world is” or “how lucky that happened to that person.” We must train our minds at all times to look for and rejoice in the miracles the Lord provides, so that in a moment of weakness, we too won’t find ourselves affronting God’s instructions and desires.
  • Elisha states in verse 16, “As surely as the Lord lives, whom I serve, I will not accept a thing.” To put something as temporary and fleeting as monetary gain above the Lord is foolish – how much more to put it above sharing the word of the Lord with those who need it. As Christians, we know salvation comes through faith alone, not buying our way into Heaven. Likewise, we should not look to gain anything from others for sharing our faith as Gehazi attempted, but should find joy in our Lord and sharing His gospel.
  • Most of all, the Bible is very clear about our relationship with money, and Gehazi’s behavior is a demonstration of how not to behave with it. Matthew 6:24 puts it best: “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Putting money in the forefront of our thoughts is easier than ever to do these days. Not that it’s bad to be mindful of your finances either – love of money is the root of all evil, not money itself. But in all manners, including financial, put God first.

All these reminders together help us realize, even if Gehazi was pretty boneheaded in this moment, he was generally righteous in action. He was a prophet’s servant, giving his life to helping advance the Lord’s work in Israel and spreading His message. But ultimately his heart was not devoted to the Lord, and in one opportune moment, Satan slipped into his heart and sin prevailed. Gehazi was not some storybook villain – just an ordinary guy who’s heart was not 100% trained on God. So take this as a reminder today: above all else, we must keep our hearts trained on God at all times. If not, sin is sure to take hold in those moments of weakness. But luckily we serve a forgiving God, and when we do slip up, He will be willing to forgive us when we ask Him with all our hearts. The important part then is to learn from our mistakes so we may better serve the Lord when next these moments arise. I pray that in time in Scripture and prayer today, you may learn a little more how to train your heart on God always, so that you may hold fast on God’s teachings against temptation.

Elisha

Today’s reading is 2 Kings 2, 4, and 6 as we focus on the prophet Elisha.

A famous movie line many know from the movie Top Gun is, “I’m not leaving my wingman.” Maverick, the movie’s main character, learned his lesson after leaving his wingman earlier in the movie for selfish ambition which led to a bad outcome. When he made the decision later to stay and protect his wingman, putting others’ needs above his, good things happened, and he ultimately became the hero. Elisha was the long-time servant of the prophet Elijah. As we read here in 2 Kings 2, Elijah tells Elisha to leave him 3 separate times because Elijah must travel further. However, Elisha stays true to his master, his mission, and purpose by staying with Elijah to the very end. And what happens, but he receives a double-portion of the same prophetic gifts Elijah had. As we read on, not only does God help Elisha perform many miracles in the Lord’s name, but we see God protect him with horses and chariots of fire, who we can assume to be angels, in 2 Kings 6:15-17 when the king of Syria sends his men to kill Elisha. A few weeks ago, we read about how God rewarded Ruth for her steadfast loyalty to her mother-in-law Naomi which led her to not only receiving gifts at the end of her life, but also naming a book after her and becoming part of the genealogy of Jesus. We also know about the prostitute Rahab who showed courage to protect the prophets of Israel and as a result is referenced throughout the Bible and who also became part of the lineage of Jesus. The people we just mentioned showed an unfailing courage and trust in God for their lives. Over the past weeks we have also read in the Old Testament about many kings and rulers who abandoned God and things didn’t go so well for them.

Here is my question…what is God asking you to do in your life to serve Him, your family, and others in His name that is not an easy decision and choice to make requiring great faith and trust in Him? It could be helping a friend or stranger in need, a financial change or commitment, dedication of more of your time to person or a cause or even your own family, or could be a change in career direction. Whatever it is, I can assume it’s not easy. It may put your time or money at risk which are two things I know I hold far too tightly far to often because wrongly I see them as 2 of my most valuable resources which in my mind are also scarce. However, God sees our spiritual gifts to serve others in His name as being way more valuable and has no limitations on what He can do if He sees fit financially…and His timeline is also eternity. I have seen it time after time, and we can also see in the Bible, where it may not come for a very long time, but God rewards this faithfulness to Him and his purpose in ways we could never imagine. Yet, it is still very hard to completely trust and follow Him and His will for our lives. No, these choices will not get us to Heaven, only belief in Jesus’ loving sacrifice on the cross will (Ephesians 2:8-9), but scripture does tell us we will be rewarded when we get there (Revelation 22:12, Revelation 2:23). In what way, I’m not sure…but isn’t hearing Him say to you, “Well done my good and faithful servant” enough?

See His Vision.

Work His Mission.

Live His Values.

 

 

 

 

Elijah

1Kings 17:1-9, 18

Elijah said, “As surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word!” This is quite a bold statement to proclaim in the face of the king of the land…especially a Baal worshiping King, with a strong military. King Ahab, along with his predecessors as we read yesterday with Holly, had been leading God’s people away from God and replacing Him with other gods. Elijah was the first in a long line of prophets that God used to try to get His people’s attention. Ahab had built a sense of security around himself and his kingdom with his powerful military so God used something that Ahab’s military couldn’t muscle their way around, and Ahab’s god was completely powerless against. Nature.

Three years into the drought, God sends Elijah back to King Ahab with another message. Elijah says, “You have refused to obey the commands of the Lord and have worshiped Baal instead. Now summon all Israel to join me at Mount Carmel, along with the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah.” When everyone was gathered Elijah said to all, “ How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him! But if Baal is god, then follow him!” …and the people were completely silent. So Elijah had the people bring two bulls to be prepared for sacrifice, team Baal against God to see who could prove their power to the people by producing fire. Each alter of wood was prepared, a bull placed on top of each alter and then each team was to call out to their god/God to ask for fire. The god who answered with fire would be the one true God…and all the people agreed.

Team Baal prepped their alter and began calling out to Baal from morning to noon time, but there was no reply. So the people shouted louder and cut themselves with knives until the blood gushed out. They raved all afternoon until the time of the evening sacrifice but there was still no response. So Elijah gathered twelve stones to represent the twelve tribes of Israel and rebuilt the alter in the Lords name. Then he dug a trench around the alter and asked for four jars of water to be brought to him. He dowsed the alter and sacrifice with water from the four jars and asked for the jars to be refilled two more times. By the third watering, the trench was full of standing water. Elijah stood next to the drenched alter and prayed, “O Lord of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, answer me so these people will know that you are God and that you have brought them back to yourself.” Immediately the fire of the Lord flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull, the wood, the stones, the dust and it even licked up all the water in the trench! When the people saw it they fell face down on the ground and cried out, “The Lord-he is God!” God had Elijah, kill all of the prophets of Baal, and then He brought the rain! “The sky was black with clouds and a heavy wind brought a terrific rainstorm!” Then the Lord gave special strength to Elijah and he ran ahead of Ahab’s chariot all the way to Jezreel.”

A few things I learned studying this story:

1-God’s power is astounding! That He can stop the dew and rain for 3 years, call fire from heaven to burn up stones and water, deliver a thunderstorm on a given afternoon, and give a man superhuman strength to run faster than horses is all beyond what my human mind can comprehend. This One is who I get to call Father and who I can speak to any second of any day or night about what ever is on my mind.

2-I don’t ever want to be a part of a group of people who are completely silent when asked who their God is. I can’t really say that I have been in this exact situation, but we can all think of conversations we have been in where we could have said more to support God’s character or align ourselves with Him and we chose not to. The truth is that I have, and probably will again, smile and sit quiet when I know I should speak. I so quickly justify in my mind that it isn’t the proper setting, or this is not the hill to die on, or a private conversation would be so much more effective,,,the list goes on and on. I want to live more in God’s power and less in human fear while still being gentle, kind and truthful.

3-I have a lot to learn from Elijah! He was more bold and brave than I have ever dreamt of being. (I do realize that 4 verses later in chapter 19, he tells God that he has had enough and wants God to take his life. But he did the crazy hard jobs required of him in chapters17 and 18. He actually did them!) He heard God’s voice and obeyed God’s commands no matter how difficult the task.

4-God will always win! He is the ultimate power, the only one true God, the One who controls nature and the One who has a plan to make a way for every person on this earth able to have relationship with Him!

Ahab and Ben Hadad

Today’s reading comes from 1 Kings 16:29-34 and 1 Kings 20:1-21; 29

The first twelve verses of 1 Kings 20 describe the problems facing the northern nation of Israel, summarized briefly in bullet points:

  • Ben-hadad is the king of Syria and leads an attack against Samaria, the capital city of Israel.
  • Ben-hadad sends messengers to Ahab, the king of Israel, with a choice. Either be destroyed or hand over your silver, gold, wives, and children
  • Basically everything and everyone is now under Syrian rule
  • Ahab agrees but it his quick acceptance seems to have caused the king of Syria to up the ante
  • Ben-hadad sends messengers back to Ahab to say that he is going to send his servants into Ahab’s palace and homes to take whatever they want – tomorrow
  • This is too outrageous and Ahab rejects the terms of the treaty
  • Verse 10 records Ben-hadad’s response that he is going to turn Samaria into dust. “There will be so little left of the city that there would not be enough for a handful of dust for each of my soldiers.”
  • Ahab’s response in verse 11 is pretty humorous. “You act like the battle is already over and we have not begun to fight.”  With this response the preparations are made for battle.

THEN an amazing grace from the Lord happens. A prophet comes to Ahab and tells him that the Lord is delivering the multitude of armies from Syria into his hand. The young officers are going to win this battle and Ahab must lead them into the battle. Ben-hadad is so confident in the victory that he is drinking himself drunk in his tent along with the 32 other kings who are fighting against Israel. So the army of Israel comes against the Syrians and just wipes them out. The Syrians go into full retreat and Ben-hadad must escape for his life. Rather than seeing the power of God, the Syrians come up with a foolish plan. They figure that Israel’s gods are gods of the hills and that is why they were stronger than us. They had a false understanding of God. They thought that the God of Israel had limitations.

We can make the same mistake as Ben-hadad. We may think that we know that God is over all places and people, but our actions may not reflect this truth.

What limits have you placed on God? One limit sometimes placed on God by his people is “limitations in sight” – we will believe that he only sees us at worship. People act like God is limited in sight and that he does not see what we are doing Monday through Saturday. He only sees us on Sunday and he sees me as a good, moral Christian. But God sees all that we do.

Sometimes we act like God is limited in knowledge. We think that God does not understand what we are going through. We feel like we are alone. We feel like God does not comprehend the challenges we are facing. Jesus said that God the Father knows what we need even before we ask him (Matthew 6:8, 32).

Think about God’s full power and presence in your life. Are you “limiting” or minimizing what He is capable of in your life?

Dynasties

1 Kings 11:26-40, 12:25-14:20

“I will always be with you. I will establish an enduring dynasty for you as I did for David, and I will give Israel to you.” (1 Kings 11:38”)

That’s quite a promise.  God gave it to Jeraboam as he became king.  As I reflect on it, I am amazed at the big promises that God makes to people.  He offers them freedom, power, riches, and this time, for Jeraboam, he offers up a dynasty.   That’s a big deal!  It’s a serious promise that Jereboam will be remembered.  That his life, his family and future generations will matter because of his life.  If you haven’t read today’s verses yet, I’ll give you one guess as to what happened.  It’s not hard to figure out.  I mean, Jereboam is not exactly a household name.  Why not?  The promise was conditional.  Jereboam did not hold up his end.

Before God promised Jereboam a dynasty, he said: “If you listen to what I tell you and follow my ways and do whatever I consider to be right, and if you obey my decrees and commands, as my servant David did, then…”.  You see, if Jereboam did not put God first, then the promise was null.  Of course, Jereboam did everything but worship God.  It seems as if he had no intention of serving God.  In fact, his actions suggest that he was only in it for himself. Thankfully, we are not like Jereboam.  Right?

Most Sunday services at Eastview include a baptism.  Baptism by immersion, we believe, is the outward expression of our inward desire to follow Christ.  To put God first.  This baptism is among the first steps of obedience in becoming a Christ-follower (Romans 10:9).  The tradition, at Eastview, is to ask the baptizee this simple question.  “Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God and do you take him to be your personal Lord and Savior?”  Today, I’ve been thinking about that phrase as it related to Jereboam.

Jereboam accepted the promise of God with the conditions given. And, he didn’t follow through. I fear, that sometimes we also accept the promise of God without intending to follow through.  In reality, we easily accept him to be our Savior but want nothing to do with him being our Lord.  Isn’t that what Jereboam did?  Give me everything, so that…. “I.”

I am grateful for the reminder that Jereboam provides me today.  All too often in my quest to be a good and influential leader, to establish a legacy and a dynasty, I miss the only important thing.  God gives, so that… “HE.”  Dynasties are not awarded to the best leaders.  God gives them only to the faithful followers.

Decisions, Decisions

Talk about a pressure cooker… Rehoboam is following quite a legacy. He’s King David’s grandson, the man after God’s own heart that God promised to establish his kingdom through. And he’s the son of King Solomon, known for the unmatched amount of wisdom that God blessed him with. As Rehoboam becomes King himself, his very first order of business presents itself. The pressure is on.

1 Kings 12:1-20 outlines this start as King.

This feels a little bit like ‘one step forward, two steps back’. King Rehoboam takes his step forward by first seeking counsel in making the decision of lightening the workload and burden of the Israelites (requested of him by Jeroboam). Great idea to get advice, and especially to seek it from those with experience and history in the situation. And then he takes his first step back – not liking that advice and instead seeking out people that will validate his own desires. And then, he hastily makes the decision and announces it within three days, without praying and seeking direction from God.

King Rehoboam wanted to show his power and strength, mightier than his father or grandfather. He wanted to make his own name for himself, and so instead of building trust with the people by easing the already heavy burden, he increased it. It seems like a mixture of pride, immaturity, and haste all led to this decision.

This created the divide across the tribes that is still present today. The ten northern tribes separated and lived under the rule of Jeroboam, while King Rehoboam maintained Judah in the south. During his 17 years of reign, Judah lived in conflict and great sin (1 Kings 14:21-31).

What a great lesson in decision making and leading people. We all have to make hard decisions at times – whether it’s in the workplace, in our personal relationship, health situations, etc. I can look back at decisions made too quickly, without the right input, and without seeking God’s direction.  King Rehoboam had access to the same things we do: God’s guidance, wisdom from God followers, and history/scriptures. Think about all of the generations before him and lessons he would have learned.

Exodus 18:21 Choose trustworthy, God-fearing men from the people and appoint them over the people to help you

Leviticus 19:18 Love your neighbor as yourself

Psalm 27:14 Wait on the Lord, take heart and wait

It’s not always easy to wait to make a decision – sometimes we want to just move forward in a direction. Not all decisions need to be made today. Can more time in prayer or seeking more advice lead to a better decision and outcome? Or at least a decision made with more peace and confidence?

And then there are other decisions we have to make with little time to even think. We pray for direction, doors to open, and gather input and advice from the best sources in the moment. White knuckling our way through and praying it was the right choice.

I’m thinking back on decisions I’ve made recently, and where I gathered input and advice.

        • Do the people in my circle challenge my thinking?
        • Am I mostly surrounded by those that will validate and agree with me?
        • Who can I rely on for their experience and wisdom, that doesn’t have anything to gain or lose by the decision being made?
        • What pride or blind spots do I have that keeps me from asking for advice?

God knew the decisions Rehoboam was going to make, just like he knows each decision we have made and will make. He is faithful to give us wisdom if we seek it and ask. He is here to lead and guide us, and help us when we mess up and make the wrong decisions.

Betrayed

Think of a time when you were betrayed and how you felt.

Some of the emotions that go along with betrayal: anger, fear, loss, resentment, isolation, bitterness, pain, distrust. These emotions became all too real through a recent situation where I was betrayed and it hurt deeply.

but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, (1 Peter 3:15)

After wasting time on self-pity, I focused on the one who will never betray me; my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Because of my faith I was able to quickly see the reasons behind the betrayal: We live in a broken world and there is an enemy who wants to distract us from our relationship with God.

Satan is a deceiver and in this betrayal someone made a slight adjustment to the truth to convey a message of negativity at my expense.

As a result of my own faith:

  1. It was easier (not easy, easier) to forgive those who hurt me. The pain lessened with the realization that mankind is not the enemy. The enemy wants me to hate and seek revenge thus resulting in further turmoil, perpetuating the sin.
  2. There was peace in my heart! When I turned from anger I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit showing me the way. I saw the situation almost from afar; it was a trap, narrowly averted.
  3. Joy returned quickly. One of the most important phrases spoken to me in the last 20 years: “We are responsible for our own feelings.” Choosing anger and bitterness blocks the potential for joy in our lives. Trusting in Jesus and not ourselves enables us to experience that joy that we were meant to have.

Today’s reading: 2 Samuel 15, 17-18

Today we read about King David’s son Absalom who betrayed his father. The end result was a grueling death for Absalom and deep despair and grief for his father. Absalom conspired against King David to take the throne and worse, he sets out to have his own father killed.

What struck me in this story was David’s love and forgiveness which is beyond human understanding:

And the king ordered Joab and Abishai and Ittai, “Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom.” And all the people heard when the king gave orders to all the commanders about Absalom. (2 Samuel 18:5)

These chapters were assigned to me long before the recent betrayal in my life, but yet the timing was miraculous. Reading God’s word through my own situation provided a blueprint as to how to respond in a Godly manner. God’s word is alive and he continues to be faithful. Pick up those Bibles my friends, your creator wants to speak to you today!