Monthly Archives: April 2009

1 Kings 21 & 22

Scripture – But Micaiah said, “As the Lord lives, what the Lord says to me that I will speak.” 1 Kings 22:14 (ESV)

Observation – Ahab was a passive man and a weak leader. He married a domineering, aggressive, Baal worshipping pagan in Jezebel. It was a marriage tragedy on several levels. What makes Ahab’s story even more tragic are the seven hundred false prophets, the veritable “yes” men Ahab has surrounded himself with. These “prophets” are in effect useless, even harmful, advisors. They tell Ahab only what he wants to hear, which in the end leads to his providential demise.

Micaiah on the other hand prophesies truth to Ahab and is thus “hated” for it (1 Kings 22:8).

Application – We are told in Scripture that the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? (Jer. 17:9) We have a deep seeded problem of the heart. The Good News is God’s solution for the heart.

God has given us two primary safeguards against our deceitful and wandering heart.

1.    The presence of Christ in us, aka the Holy Spirit. Is the Holy Spirit acting as a safeguard in my life? I measure this by the time between sin and conviction. Of course when conviction comes between the conception and birth of sin, all the better! Bottom line – am I being made progressively more aware of the real condition of my heart?

2.    The practical presence of the “Body of Christ”, aka the fellowship of believers. Am I surrounded by “true” friends or “false” friends; those who will speak the truth in love, or those who love the relationship more than they love me? Are my friends encouraging me and challenging me to live according to the faith? Or do they watch in passive silence, playing Adam in the garden, as I taste forbidden fruit?

Without the presence of “Christ in me” and without the “true” fellowship of “true” friends I would do well to be concerned about the direction of my life. If I voluntarily remove or passively fail to put in place the safeguards God has provided for me as a NT believer, I have in effect traded in the Good News benefits for a watered down version of Christianity that is without power or protection.

Ahab grieved God by ignoring His commands and statutes. Ahab surrounded himself with “yes” men and “hated” the one who spoke truth. Lord please don’t let me fall into the path of Ahab!

Prayer – Lord I have a deceitful and wandering heart, I need safeguards in my life. You have provided them, may I embrace them and live under their protection. Lord give me true friends, men and women who love You and abide in You, may they have a love for me that is willing to risk friendship for my ultimate good. Lord, I pray I would recognize that You are the source of truth in my life, may I continually draw near to You, may I be obedient and not grieve the Holy Spirit in me. Reveal to me the true condition of my heart according to Your grace. Lord, thank You that You’ve given me all the safeguards I need to live worthy of the name Christian. Help me do so, Amen.

Paul

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1 Kings 19-20

Scripture

“I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” 1 Kings 19: 4 NIV

Observation

Leading to this moment, leader after leader commits sin after sin, provoking anger in the eyes of the Lord. One seems worse than the one before him. Ahab comes along, also committing sin and considering it trivial. Ahab sets an altar to worship Baal, though perhaps he intended to worship God and Baal at the same time. Elijah tells Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.” And then he takes off, going where the Lord tells him to go, and being sustained by the Lord through special provisions.

Prophets are being slain in a search for Elijah. Elijah returns to Ahab for a type of showdown on Mount Carmel where two offerings are presented: one for Baal and one for God. Elijah tells Baal’s prophets to call on the name of their god, and he’ll call on the name of his. The god who answers by fire–he will be the true God. And so it was.

Even through a water soaked altar, God shows his great power by fire. Baal’s prophets are taken away and slaughtered. Still, this doesn’t sit well with his followers, and Jezebel swears an oath to find Elijah and kill him. Elijah takes off, fearing for his life. In the desert, he goes off alone to pray that he would die.

My study notes read: Elijah concluded that his work was fruitless and consequently that life was not worth living. He had lost his confidence in the triumph of the kingdom of God and was withdrawing from the arena of conflict.

Elijah was part of God’s work and witness to miracles: not just being able to hear God so clearly, he was present for a child’s resurrection, he was part of an area drought and famine, and he saw God come through with power and might by fire at the altar. That’s some pretty big stuff. And still he lost confidence in the kingdom of God.

God is so good and doesn’t give up on Elijah, even in Elijah’s great doubt of his own work and fruit. God sends a powerful wind, an earthquake and a fire, but the Lord was not in them. No, it was after the fire that came a gentle whisper. And God said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Application

How often am I discouraged when things don’t go the way I expect them and seem … fruitless? How many times have I been ready to throw in the towel of the job at hand and say, “God, this isn’t working. I’m not getting anywhere.” Discouraged, I might miss the bigger things God is doing because I’m so focused on what I perceive the results should be. I fail to notice all the miracles around me, the answers to prayer. It’s only in the midst of my own spiritual trial, the fearful places of mighty winds, earthquakes or fires, that God reaches out to me in my place of worry or doubt with his gentle whisper and says, “Courtney, what are you doing here?”

Prayer

Father, I trust in you. Thank you for your reminders, your whisperings to me, that you are in control even when things don’t turn out the way I expect. Please forgive my fearful heart, Lord. When I run, I pray that it is always to you. Amen

Courtney

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1 Kings 16-18

Scripture:

1 Kings 17: 1-6,  1Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.” 2And the word of the LORD came to him: 3“Depart from here and turn eastward and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. 4You shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” 5So he went and did according to the word of the LORD. He went and lived by the brook Cherith that is east of the Jordan. 6And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook (English Standard Version).

Observation:

Elijah was a man who obeyed God’s leading in his life.  And God provided for Elijah in his service of Him.  Really the rest of this chapter speaks to that provision and how it spilled over to a family that Elijah helped spare from starvation.  God provided for Elijah with protection and nourishment.  There were times in Elijah’s life when he did what was right in obeying God, but panicked in the process, but God never abandoned him.  He always provided for Elijah’s needs.  I tried to picture being fed by ravens.  What an interesting experience that must have been.  Every day, twice a day, the ravens brought him food.  And God provided water for Elijah.  The equation was simple, you serve me — even in dangerous situations — and I’ll provide for you.  These provisions were signs of God’s presence with Elijah.  I wonder if he thanked God when the ravens came?  God met his physical needs and protected him from King Ahab.

Application:

I understand the provision that comes from God when we do His will.  I also know he lets some of us die in the process of doing His will.  I remember Stephen who was the church’s first martyr.  He served God more diligently than I have and paid for it with his life.  Five young men in 1956 lost their lives carrying the good news of Jesus to a tribe of people in Ecuador.  So I ask myself why do some live and enjoy protection from God, while others lose their lives serving the same God.  My only answer can be it’s not the preservation that we must focus on, but God’s presence.  It is evident from the text that God was with Elijah.  It is evident from the New Testament text God was with Stephen.  It is evident from first hand accounts that God was with those five men in the jungle.  We will always have God’s presence in our lives.  It’s something we cannot lose, but His temporal deliverance, well that’s up to Him.  My focus is on the One who is with me through my serving and if I lose my life in the process I am assured I will not lose His presence.

Prayer:

Father God I forget many times that you are with me.  You are with me all the time.  Help me to take comfort in that fact and not whether you spare me in this life or not.  Help me to set my mind on Your Spirit and walk in You every moment of my life, so that deliverance becomes secondary to Your presence.  I pray these things in Jesus Name, Amen.

dmbaldwin

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I Kings 14-15

 Scripture:

 6 So when Ahijah heard the sound of her footsteps at the door, he said, “Come in, wife of Jeroboam. Why this pretense? I have been sent to you with bad news. 7 Go, tell Jeroboam that this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I raised you up from among the people and made you a leader over my people Israel. 8 I tore the kingdom away from the house of David and gave it to you, but you have not been like my servant David, who kept my commands and followed me with all his heart, doing only what was right in my eyes. 9 You have done more evil than all who lived before you. You have made for yourself other gods, idols made of metal; you have provoked me to anger and thrust me behind your back.

 10 ” ‘Because of this, I am going to bring disaster on the house of Jeroboam. I will cut off from Jeroboam every last male in Israel—slave or free. I will burn up the house of Jeroboam as one burns dung, until it is all gone. 11 Dogs will eat those belonging to Jeroboam who die in the city, and the birds of the air will feed on those who die in the country. The LORD has spoken!’ I Kings 14:6-11 (NIV)

Observation:

 

It is clear in this passage that God is extremely disappointed and frustrated with both Jeroboam and his wife (who interestingly remains nameless in this passage), and clearly spreads his wrath on them and their family. I think it is interesting how the term “dung” is used in this context. In some translations, “trash” is used, but dung is the prevailing term in verse 10. Nevertheless, the point is well taken. God is quite unhappy! He uses the prophet Ahijah as His voice.

 

Application:

 

What strikes me is that I am so glad that God doesn’t do this with us today. We are saved through the blood of Jesus Christ and He shows us grace and mercy every day. We probably are as bad as Jeroboam and his wife at times, and we certainly don’t have the heart of David, yet God never treats us like he does Jeroboam and his wife. Christ paid this price for all of us and we can take solace in this.

 

I think it is important to reflect, however, that God can choose not to have mercy on us at any point, and the fact that He shows his love for us through grace everyday should draw us closer to Him. I have always found the term “God fearing” a curious statement, but it is apropos to be used  here in watching God’s actions. He is certainly worthy of fear, although a fear not based on terror or being afraid, but one out of respect for His power and might.

 

What other “idols” do we have that keep us from God every day? Is it work? Television? Hobbies? Money? Something else? Idols don’t have to be a metal figure that we worship, it can be anything. We just need to steer clear of them. I certainly have been going through a winter in my relationship with God and I need to get rid of some idols that keep me from Him.

 

Prayer:

 

Dear Lord, I am so sorry when I put things of this world before You and worship them as idols instead of worshipping you. Thank you for having mercy on me and showing me your grace. I take this for granted sometimes. Lord, please do not let me take for granted your majesty and power as we all could be gone in a flash if it is your will. I thank you for the blood of Jesus that atones for our sins. Thank you for sending Him. Please let me have the heart of David and follow you with my thoughts and actions. Amen.

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1 Kings 12-13

Scripture

“Even after this, Jeroboam did not change his evil ways, but once more appointed priests for the high places from all sorts of people.  Anyone who wanted to become a priest he consecrated for the high places.  This was the sin of the house of jeroboam that led to its downfall and to its destruction from the face of the earth”.

1 Kings 13:33, 34  NIV

Observation

What an awful and tragic event is taking place in this time of history!  Jeroboam, single handedly, was putting into motion the events that would subsequently lead to a entire nation’s downfall and destruction from the face of the earth.

We find here in this section of the Word of God, that Jeroboam came to the throne and was given an opportunity to really serve God.  This opportunity however, was tragically removed because of his fear.  Jeroboam had a fear that the tribes of the newly formed nation of the north would go back to Jerusalem in the southern kingdom of Judah to worship.  This, Jeroboam thought, would reunite the two kingdoms.  Jeroboam desired to keep them both separate.  As a way of keeping the two kingdoms separate, he sets up golden calves for them to worship and he appoints priests from outside of the tribe of Levi.

Jeroboam and the the entire northern kingdom of Israel suffered awful consequences as a result of these sins.   Even though the consequences were not immediate, Jeroboam and the entire northern kingdom of Israel did not get away with their actions and subsequently, these events led to the destruction of the northern kingdom.

Application

There are many lessons to be learned from Jeroboam’s life.  As I read through these passages of Scripture, I found myself wondering how many great opportunities God has given me to share His love with the world, and instead of following the guidance of the Holy Spirit in my life, I ended up destroying those great opportunities because I made excuses and acted in my own selfishness instead of the promises that God makes in His Word.

I want so desperately to honor God with all of my heart and do it every day of my life.  I find however,  that so many times I get so frustrated and discouraged at those times in my life when I decide to take over God’s role in a situation and do things my way instead of His.  I find that I am especially vulnerable to these sins during trials and difficulties or when I am feeling sad or depressed.

I know that God’s love for me is unfailing and very real.  I must not think I ever have the answers to any situation, big or small, happy or sad, apart from His amazing love and incredible grace.   I must also recognize my daily and very frequent need to to admit those times in my life that I lean on my own strength and constantly ask God to restore me to fellowship with Him.   Finally, I must never be fooled into thinking that there are no consequences to foolish decisions I make, just because I do not see disaster happen right away.  God’s Word is clear.    There are ALWAYS consequences to sin and the very worst of these consequences is grieving the Holy Spirit and being out of fellowship with Him.

Prayer

Lord, I thank you with every part of my heart, that you are an unending fountain of love and grace.  You are always faithful, all the time, even when I am faithless.  Even in my weakness and frailty, you still allow me the awesome privilege of coming before your beautiful throne of grace, that I may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  What an amazing God you are!  You are so merciful and good, so loving and caring, so omniscient, all-powerful, all knowing and so completely and perfectly pure and lovely.  You are the author of everything holy and beautiful, you are the unsearchable Ancient of Days and you are MY GOD!

You love me so perfectly and completely despite my sin, my weaknesses, my imperfections. Lord, I confess my desperate need for you.  I pour all of myself before you and ask you to fill me to overflowing with your mercy and grace.  I am nothing apart from you.  I cast my burdens on you and ask you to completely search every single area of my life and every corner of my heart.  Help me Lord, to empty myself of all the emptiness that I cling so tightly to, and help me to trust in you alone with every fiber of my being.  Take all of this anxiety, worry and fear and take this existence and use me for your glory.

I kneel before you, Lord and I offer this vessel and I want you to know that I love you.  I want to show the world that I love you and that you are the most important part of my life.  I can only accomplish this if I follow you and cling so tightly to your hand as a helpless child, never forgetting the nail scarred hands and feet that you paid out of love for me.  Help me Lord to never lose sight that you are God, who is rich in mercy, with the great love that you have loved me with, even when I was dead in my trespasses, you have made me alive together with your beautiful Son, who paid the ransom for me.

I love you!

John (johnd7264)

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1 Kings 9 – 11

Scripture

 

“‘Praise be to the LORD your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the LORD’s eternal love for Israel, He has made you king, to maintain justice and righteousness.’” 1 Kings 10:9 (NIV)

 

“The LORD became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the LORD’s command.” 1 Kings 11:9 & 10 NIV

 

Observation

 

The Queen of Sheba visits Solomon to see with her own eyes, the report of Solomon’s achievements and wisdom. She gives the glory for Solomon’s wealth, accomplishments & wisdom to the Lord. God had indeed blessed Solomon immensely. Solomon had a huge responsibility as King of Israel to uphold the Lord’s commands as he led the people.

 

But, Solomon had a profound weakness for foreign women, women that God had forbidden Israel from marrying, because they would turn their hearts after other gods.

 

His 700 wives and 300 concubines led him astray “and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David father had been.” (1 Kings 11:4 NIV)

 

 

Application

 

I, unlike Solomon, am not married to 700 husbands, etc. but there are still things that I must be on guard from, that can lead me astray and turn my heart from fully being devoted to God. And, I may not be the king of a mighty nation, but I am still one of my children’s primary role models and that carries a huge responsibility for me to cling to God with a heart of pure devotion.

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father,

You have blessed me immensely with a wonderful husband and five beautiful and healthy children. Thank you so much! Please help me to not take for granted the blessings you pour into my life and to always give the glory to You. I pray that You will give me a heart of pure devotion only to You and that I will not be led astray by the things of this world. If I am led astray, please help me to turn and run, as fast as I possibly can, back into Your loving arms of grace and mercy.

Amen.

 

Beckie (look2thehills)

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1 Kings 8

Scripture

“And may these words of mine which I have prayed before the Lord, be near to the Lord our God day and night, that he may uphold the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel according to each day’s need, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God and that there is no other. But your hearts must be fully committed to the Lord our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands, as at this time.” 1 Kings 8:59-61 (NIV)

Observation

Solomon has completed construction of the temple and is dedicating it to the Lord. It is a joyous occasion. A two-week celebration.

Application

I’ve never read 1 Kings 8 before. I wondered what I would find. And as I sit down to think about its content to choose just one verse, so many things pop out at me: God’s fulfillment of promises, praise to Him for being the one true God, the pleas of His people to hear them and forgive them when they sin, and their need for direction for His purpose. All I can think is: Yeah, me too. All of it.

As I approach the chapter again, I look down and see this verse waiting patiently for me. I read it and savor it. How rich and intimate. May these words that I have prayed … be near the Lord our God day and night. To know my own prayers reach his ears leaves me in awe. That he may uphold the cause of his servant … and people … according to each day’s need. He is my provider on a daily basis, whether it is food, clothing or the right words. Only I can take credit for the wrong ones. So that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God and that there is no other. My testimony and outreach. Lord that you would give me the words to say and the ability to speak humbly and from my heart. But your hearts must be fully committed to the Lord our God …  I do love you so very much … to live by his decrees and obey his commands … I’m getting better at this, at least getting better at hearing Your voice in me.   

Prayer

 Lord, my heart is full of thanks that you keep your promises, that you hear me and forgive my sin, and that you are the one true God. I pray for direction in my life for your purpose. I pray that I would see opportunities to share your love, and that you would give me the words to say to suit the occasion. Amen

Courtney

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