Monthly Archives: May 2009

2 Chronicles 34-36

Scripture

Then the king stood in his place and made a covenant before the Lord to walk after the Lord, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all his heart and with all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant written in this book. Moreover, he made all who were present in Jerusalem and Benjamin to stand with him. So the inhabitants of Jerusalem did according to the covenant of God, the God of their fathers. Josiah removed all the abominations from all the lands belonging to the sons of Israel, and made all who were present in Israel to serve the Lord their God. Throughout his lifetime they did not turn from following the Lord God of their fathers.

2 Chronicles 34:31-33 (NASB)

Observation

When I first read this I was a little taken back when I observed the statement in verse 33 that Josiah “made all who were present in Israel to serve the LORD their God.” How after all can you make someone serve the Lord if they do not want to. Then it struck me that it was the influence of his example that caused the change. His leadership and direction and his decisiveness of action caused the people to take notice and to turn back to their God. As a result the curses that were the natural consequence of the sin of Judah were not visited on this people. One faithful and intentional leader saved an entire generation. It is also noteworthy that all of this came about as a result of Josiah’s own personal commitment to follow God in his private life.

Application

This passage gives me pause to examine my own leadership. Am I being the kind of leader who is drawing others to Jesus and causing them to want to serve the Lord? Is my life a model that points people to obedience and faithfulness? Am I, like Josiah, faithfully pursuing God with my heart and not just my actions? Am I as grieved by my sin as he was and as desirous of God’s blessing in my life and on my land? If I were, what difference would this make for my wife and my children? What difference would it make in the lives of my friends and colleagues?

Prayer

Lord God, make us the kind of people who pursue you tenaciously in our own lives that we might, by our own love for you, draw others to know you better. Give us hearts that long for you and are grieved by sin. Give us the desire to ruthlessly tear down the idols in our lives and our hearts that we would have room only for you and that which you have shown us to be good.

Amen and amen.

Mike

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2 Chronicles 31-33

Scripture

 “Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid nor dismayed before the king of Assyria, nor before all the multitude that is with him; for there are more with us than with him.  With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles.”  And the people were strengthened by the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.  2 Chronicles 32:7,8 NKJV

 

Observation

King Hezekiah had a big problem on his hands.  Sennacherib, king of Assyria, had surrounded the city of Judah. Hezekiah first sought out the counsel of his leaders, than he strengthened his defenses, he put captains over the people and than gathered them together and reminded them to not be afraid.  He told them God was in control and would fight the battle for them.   Sennacherib later in the chapter tries to convince Israel that God could not save them.  Hezekiah and Isaiah prayed to God and He sends an angel to kill all his men.

 

Application

Although this story relates to a physical battle, I think there are parallels to battling things in our everyday lives, like negative habits.  God is willing to help and to fight for me but I have to be willing to ask his help.  There are things I can do like Hezekiah.  I can strengthen my defenses by reading God’s word every day, and reading positive literature.  When things are not going well or I’m frustrated I can continue to remind myself that God is in control.   

 

Prayer

Dear God I pray to help me always remember that you are in control.  Help me to remember to ask for your help when I feel surrounded and bound up with worry or frustration.  Thank you for loving me in spite of my mistakes. Amen.

Jon

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2 Chronicles 28-30

Scripture

“Because the Lord, the God of your fathers, was angry with Judah, he gave them into your hand . . . but aren’t you also guilty of sins against the Lord your God?  Now listen to me!  Send back your fellow countrymen you have taken as prisoners, for the Lord’s fierce anger rests on you.”
(2 Chronicles 28:9b, 10b, 11 NIV)

Observation

Throughout the Old Testament we’ve seen God use wicked nations as instruments to judge the unrighteousness of His people.  The wicked nations themselves would eventually be judged, but in the meantime God used them as the rod in his hand to drive His people back to Him.

The twist here is that one of the “wicked nations” God now uses to judge Judah is the northern kingdom of Israel.  So, in the act of punishing and enslaving their own countrymen, Israel is both being used by God and making themselves more culpable before God.  As they return victorious from battle, the prophet Oded stands up and demands that they show mercy to their defeated brothers.

Application

Reading the response of Israel to the prophet’s command to return the prisoners, I was struck with a feeling of déjà vu.  People who have been thoroughly beat up are being clothed by their enemy, being provided with sandals, food, drink, and healing balm.  Too weak to travel, their enemy puts them on a donkey takes them to the city of Jericho.  It wasn’t until the enemy returns to Samaria that it hit me where I’ve seen this before.  I never realized the Good Samaritan came out of an Old Testament backdrop.

So what can I learn from this?

  • Don’t be too quick to judge others; take a close look at your own guilt before God and address that instead.
  • Love your neighbor as yourself, and to do that, you have to show mercy to your enemies.

There’s probably a few other lessons here, but I think I’ll have my work cut out for me with just those two.

Prayer

Father in Heaven, in saving me from my sin, you gave me a new heart.  You gave me the ability and the resources to be a conduit of your love to others.  Give me the grace to show mercy and tend to the needs of those I dislike; help me to show others the love that you’ve shown me.  Make me aware of my own sin, and help me to turn from it to be an instrument that is worthy of your name, for your glory, and my good.

(wordisalive)

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2 Chronicles 25 – 27

Scripture
“And he (Amaziah) did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, yet not with a whole heart.” (2 Chronicles 25:2)

“And he (Uzziah) did what was right in the eyes of the LORD…” (2 Chronicles 26:4) “But when he (Uzziah) was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction…” (2 Chronicles 26:16)

Observation
In the stories of these two kings, we see the living out of Proverbs 16:18, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Amaziah’s divided loyalty (his heart) becomes evident when he defeats the Edomites, captures their gods, and sets them up for personal worship. Even the prophet sent by God seems perplexed when he asks, “What is this? Why on earth would you pray to inferior gods who couldn’t so much as help their own people from you?” (2Chronicles 25:15, The Message). As the story progresses, God gives Amaziah into the hands of his enemies because in his pride he turned to other gods and away from the one true God.

Uzziah’s story has a similar tone. He is successful in battle, his fame spreads and he becomes very strong – strength turns to pride and pride to destruction. In the end, he usurps the priest’s role, is confronted, responds in anger (a prideful response to correction), and is stricken with leprosy by the LORD and becomes a social outcast. “Being a leper… he was excluded from the house of the LORD.” (2 Chronicles 26:21)

These two kings began on the right track, but their success led to pride. In the New Testament, both James and Peter remind their listener’s of this timeless biblical principle “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5)

Application
When we are successful (in marriage, ministry, vocation, parenting…) pride has an insipid way of invading our hearts with the goal of consuming our minds and controlling our actions. Pride always draws us away from God. “Wow, I have really done quite well!” “I’m a real asset to my family, to my work, to my church…”

There is no quicker way to shipwreck our faith than to steal the glory that is due God for the work He chooses to do in us and through us – pride attempts to rob the honor and praise from God and place it on ‘self’.

Because of the danger of pride and my natural inclination towards it, I need to constantly ask myself these questions:
–    Have I thanked God today for what he is doing in me and through me, or am I taking the credit myself?
–    Am I in awe at God’s provision and goodness, or am I simply impressed at my own accomplishments?
–    In my heart have I rightly given God the credit He is due, or have I fallen into self-worship behind a self-constructed veil of pride?

Prayer
Lord, this is such a core issue for all humanity. I know I have been prideful, and sometimes the harder I try not to be prideful, the more prideful I become! Lord, you know I love you. I acknowledge that You are behind any success I may experience in this life – it all comes from You. You know that in my heart I want You to receive all the glory. You also know that I sometimes wrongly attempt to grab just a little recognition, a little credit. The good news is that when I seek You with my whole heart, Your Spirit helps me by increasing my awareness of pride.

Lord, give me eyes to see with more clarity the reality behind what my limited human eyes can see. Help me be more aware of Your presence, Your work and Your power – I pray that this awareness helps me resist the pride that so persistently pursues me. Amen.

Paul

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2 Chronicles 21-24

Scripture 

He was buried with the kings in the City of David, because of the good he had done in Israel for God and his temple. 2 Chronicles 24:15 

Observation 

2 Chronicles 21-24 is filled with drama and intrigue. King Jehoram murdered all his brothers, died painfully after an eight year reign, and was refused burial in the tombs of the kings.  Athaliah, King Ahaziah’s mother, encouraged  his wrong doing.  After his death, she destroyed the royal family. The priest Johoiada rescued young prince, Joash, and hid him in the temple for six years. Crowned at the age of seven, Joash did right in God’s eyes and repaired the temple. However, when Johoaida died, Joash abandoned God. The priest, Jehoaida, unlike King Jehoram, was buried in the tombs of the kings because he did good for God and Israel. 

Application 

Joash started his reign well, but poor advisers led him astray. Sometimes seemingly innocuous choices lead to things I don’t anticipate. I’ve never intentionally encouraged my child to do wrong, but some really bonehead advice still slipped through. I have no desire to kill my family, although they may be exasperated with me. Only by God’s power am I able to bless and not curse my enemies. I want my walk with the Lord to end as well as it started.  I know I won’t be buried royally, but I hope somebody benefits by my time on earth and notices when I’m gone. Nichole Nordeman’s song “Legacy” expresses my desire well. 

I want to leave a legacy.

How will they remember me?

Did I choose to love?

Did I point to You enough

To make a mark on things?

I want to leave an offering.

A child of mercy and grace who

Blessed your name unapologetically

And leave that kind of legacy. 

Prayer 

Lord, my mighty rock and strong tower, thank you for fresh mercy every morning and your Holy Spirit who counsels me. Please help me to throw off everything that hinders my faith race, so I may finish even better than I started. May I run after You so hard that  whoever comes after me drafts/ slipstreams toward your Son Jesus in whose Name I pray. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drafting_(racing)

yicareggie

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2 Chronicles 18-20

Scripture:

2 Chronicles 20:15-17,  15And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the LORD to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s. 16Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz. You will find them at the end of the valley, east of the wilderness of Jeruel. 17You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem. ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the LORD will be with you.” (English Standard Version)

Observation:

Jehoshaphat had been a good king.  He had instituted religious reforms and turned the nation of Judah back to God.  Now came his most challenging situation.  The Moabites and Ammonites were coming against Judah and the writer uses the term “horde” to describe how many of them there were.  And yet a prophet speaks the words above.  The people of Judah didn’t need to do anything but show up.  Now in an interesting strategic move Jehoshaphat puts the choir out front of the people, but it seemed to be the right thing to do!  The result?  It took three full days and on the fourth day they were done plundering the dead bodies of their enemy.  God had delivered Judah from her enemies and all the people had to do was pick-up after God’s deliverance.

Application:

How many times do I trust God as a leader knowing he has gone before me to fight the battle?  Not me, I scheme, think, work really hard, but rarely seek God’s counsel first.  Jehoshaphat sought God’s counsel first.  In fact the people of Jerusalem stood waiting to hear a word from God.  Me, I don’t stand quietly waiting for His word.  No, I strike out on my own trying to scale the next obstacle in ministry, or fix this relationship or bring this resource to bear on the situation.  But Jehoshaphat stood quietly before the Lord till He spoke.  I need to do more listening and less doing.  God’s power and wisdom are what I need to look for, not my own.

Prayer:

Father God, thank you for Jehoshaphat’s example of a leader who fully trusted in your deliverance.  Help me to be a leader like him.  One who waits on You for direction and deliverance instead of on my own puny resources and intellect.  Thank You for the times in the past when you have rescued me from the enemy.  Help me to learn from those experiences as well.  I pray these things in Jesus Name, Amen.

dmbaldwin

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2 Chronicles 14-17

Scripture:

1 The Spirit of God came upon 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. 3 For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach and without the law. 4 But in their distress they turned to the LORD, the God of Israel, and sought him, and he was found by them.   2 Chronicles 15: 1-4

Observation:

In Chronicles 14, it is said that God gave Asa rest, as Asa had turned his nation back toward God and away from the idolatry from past regimes. Asa spent nearly all of his reign following God and it was a peaceful and fruitful reign. However, at the end of his reign, in its 36th year, a seer named Hanani called out Asa for turning toward men and not God to solve some issues with his kingdom. He put Hanani in prison simply for Hanani calling Asa out for not seeking God and Asa then oppressed some of his people. His ways still didn’t change in the 39th year of his reign as he had a disease that affected his feet. He still turned toward men for help and never sought God and died in his 41st year of his reign.

 Application:

It is amazing how when we seek God earnestly how he does give us rest. Even under dire circumstances, we have peace. However, when we drift away, as Asa did, we seem to not have anything go right for us. I think that Asa became complacent and the expression “fat, dumb, and happy” probably applied. I know that I have been in a bit of a winter season with God over the last year to year and a half. I still pray. I read his word occassionaly, but not every day. I have noticed that the days I seek him earnestly – read his word, pray more than the “laundry list,” and earnestly seek him are my best days. Things are starting to thaw and I feel the warmth of God’s sun on my face. I just pray that I never turn totally away from God like Asa did. He started so passionately and earnestly. God blessed him mightily for it, but then as he slowly turned from God, Asa no longer had rest.

Prayer:

Lord, I pray that I seek you always, when things are good and when they aren’t so good. You have blessed me beyond what I have dreamed, but not beyond what you have called me for. Don’t let me get complacent and settle. Certainly don’t let me forsake you and turn toward men, or this world for satisfaction and guidance. Help me seek YOU and only you, so that I will have peace and rest.

 

Amen

jtgavigan

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