Tag Archives: Prophets

1 Kings 22; 2 Chronicles 18; Matthew 2

“Are you talking to me?” In comedy, the question implies a refusal to engage seriously with the speaker. I can relate. Like King Ahab in the Bible, I don’t always want to hear prophetic words that warn of disaster or deny my prayers. Yet, like Ahab’s contemporary, King Jehoshaphat, I do not want to make bad decisions because I failed to ask the Lord God for direction. Sadly, also like both kings, I may inquire of the Lord, receive an answer, and then choose to do things my way, regardless of the warnings. Why is that? Is it a listening problem?

Listening has several components besides the act of hearing sound. A good listener is one who can wait patiently for the speaker to finish. I have a family member who speaks with long pauses between words or thoughts. Yet what this person says is meaningful and often witty if one listens intently. Rushing ahead of what someone might be saying, finishing their sentences before they speak, interrupting their words with “I know that,” or “I understand what you mean,” can cause frustration for the speaker and cause the listener to misinterpret what the speaker intended to say.

Listening also involves being open to opposing viewpoints. Angry outbursts and verbal bullying are more likely to occur when the listener forms preconceived ideas about the speaker’s intent. When the prophet Micaiah was brought before the kings Ahab and Jehoshaphat, Ahab had this to say about the prophet, “…but I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil.” That’s how I feel sometimes when I watch the news or listen to talking heads; I just want to turn off the television or radio because I’m tired of hearing the speaker or the message that opposes my point of view. Do you, too, become frustrated with the friend who argues with you on topics which you are passionate and opinionated? I had a conversation recently about the effects of marijuana on drivers of motor vehicles. The speaker was adamant that for those who have smoked for years marijuana enhances driving abilities. Since addiction, hence drug information and research, is the focus of my career, and as the self-appointed expert in the conversation I became offended at such misinformation and felt it was my duty to set this person straight. Listening to the friend was not happening as I climbed upon the proverbial soap box. It was only after jumping off of the box that I heard the speaker’s real intent for defending the driver – relief in the restoration of their relationship that, yes, still has challenges to overcome. I had made the conversation about me, instead of listening to the speaker’s heart.

Another problem with listening is our natural desire to be with the ‘in crowd.’ There were four hundred other prophets who advised with one accord that Ahab and Jehoshaphat should embark on their desire to war, saying that the Lord would bring victory to the kings’ armies. This need to be with the popular crowd may cause the listener to turn a deaf ear to internal or external warnings. Making an unpopular decision based on the urging of the Holy Spirit, a dream, or a word from the Bible may seem odd and unconventional or even foolhardy to many.

However, there were five divine dreams that spoke to the important players in the birth and safety of Jesus Christ. First, Christ’s mother’s betrothed, Joseph, was told to take Mary as his wife because the Child she carried was born of the Holy Spirit. Second, the wise men from the East who found the Messiah shortly after His birth were warned not to return to King Herod who would later kill male children in an attempt to murder the Christ child. Third, Joseph was warned to flee to Egypt until Herod was dead. Fourth, Joseph was told to return to Israel to raise God’s Son. Fifth, after being warned to avoid the area of Christ’s birth, Joseph moved his family to the safety of a city called Nazareth.

Imagine if any one of these five dreams had been denied, ignored, or deliberated by those who heard the messengers. Mary could have been an outcast trying to raise an illegitimate son. Herod could have found and killed Jesus. Joseph might have been responsible for the capture or death of the Son of God. And the prophecies concerning the birth of the Messiah could not have been fulfilled.

Perhaps listening is more than just being polite. By actively listening we may receive the message that saves us from ourselves, from our egos, from impending doom, and therefore receive the blessings that God has reserved for us.

“Are you talking to me, Lord?”

“I am listening.”

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Filed under 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Matthew, New Testament, Old Testament, Uncategorized

Ezekiel 20-21, 2 Timothy 4

“Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘Because you people have brought to mind your guilt by your open rebellion, revealing your sins in all that you do—because you have done this, you will be taken captive. Ezekiel 21:24 

Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist,  discharge all the duties of your ministry. 2 Timothy 4:2-5

This is a timeless warning from the Lord God. True, yesterday, today and always. We will be taken captive by our own rebellion. Whatever the sin of our choosing that exalts itself above God, that thing will bind us up so that we are unable to move freely toward the God we say we love.

Just as it is impossible to walk in the light and the dark at the same time. It is impossible to serve our God with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength while we are serving some other idol. We can not split ourselves in half and say we are totally devoted to God.

God wants all of us, not just the part that is left over after we serve our bosses, families, clubs, charities, hobbies or ourselves. We can engage in these things for the Lord, but not without Him.

Timothy and Ezekiel had the same job. They were charged with telling the truth, no matter what the people wanted to hear. A thankless and sometimes dangerous job.

I hope and pray that I am up to the task. I would much rather say the positive words of salvation and not have to point to the ugliness of sin. But without seeing and understanding our need for redemption, the salvation message just sounds like a sales job for a newer and better face cream. Why would anyone elect to partake of something they don’t really see a need for?

Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.  Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses. Take care that what the prophets have said does not happen to you:

“‘Look, you scoffers, wonder and perish, for I am going to do something in your days that you would never believe,  even if someone told you.’” Acts 13:38-41

We are deeply steeped in sin, every single one of us. We all need a Savior. Until we all get on our faces and admit our depravity and our need for a cure, the wrath of God will hang over us. Be forewarned. God will not be mocked, not then, not now.

Let Jesus cleanse you of all your sins by believing He died for you sins. Let it be finished.

yicareggie

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Jeremiah 25,45-46; Hebrews 1

And though the Lord has sent all his servants the prophets to you again and again, you have not listened or paid any attention. They said, “Turn now, each of you, from your evil ways and your evil practices, and you can stay in the land the Lord gave to you and your ancestors for ever and ever. Do not follow other gods to serve and worship them; do not arouse my anger with what your hands have made. Then I will not harm you.”

“But you did not listen to me,” declares the Lord, “and you have aroused my anger with what your hands have made, and you have brought harm to yourselves.” Jeremiah 25:4-7

I will discipline you but only in due measure; I will not let you go entirely unpunished.”

Jeremiah 46:28

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways,  but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. Hebrews 1:1,3b  

Jesus told the parable of the talents to illustrate how the Jews repeatedly rejected the prophets. (Matthew 21:33-45)

God could not leave sins unpunished. The owner of the vineyard- God used the death of his heir – Jesus, as part of the plan to save even the tenants. God’s only Son took the penalty for the sins of the world.

I praise and thank you Lord that your Son may a way for us wayward people. I am no different in my behavior than Israel. Like the song says “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart, Lord take and seal it. Seal it for Thy courts above.” (Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing)

yicareggie

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A LETTER TO AMOS

Dear Amos,

You are making me a bit uncomfortable. You lived in Old Covenant times.  Don’t I get a break because I live under the New Covenant?  Don’t I escape judgement because I am  a redeemed and forgiven believer?

You see, life is comfortable and secure. I can divert my eyes and ignore corruption, perversion and oppression. It is as simple as changing my television channel from the News to the Food Network.  After all, I am only one in a billion.  What difference can I make?  Besides, it’s easier to keep quiet and not stir up trouble. What do you expect from me?

But you, Amos have been in my face these past couple of days.  You could have stayed in Judah and tended your flocks and orchard, but God’s truth was stronger than your desire to live a quiet,  secure, low resistance life.  The same truth that burned within you got Jesus hung on a cross.  That same truth also raised him from the dead and bought my freedom.

So what am I to do with you and the words God gave you?  I am not really sure.  I know that your words change me and God’s truth remains the same today as in your time.  God wants to be worshiped wholeheartedly.  He is not one of those idols I can take out to feel better about myself and then tuck away when my fears are assuaged.  You tell me that He longs for justice and restored relationships here on earth.  You had the conviction to stand up and  speak the difficult but healing word.  I pray that I am more like you when the time comes to speak up and do what God asks me to do.  The truth does not give me any other viable option.

Kathy

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Judges 7; Acts 11; Jeremiah 20; Mark 6

Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.”  He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.    Mark 6:4-6

 Jesus was amazed.  I am too.  Then again, not really.  Prophets were not appreciated by those who knew them best because those who knew them best were most familiar with them.  Short of death, familiarity might just be the most vile ‘gift’ we inherit courtesy of the fall.  It turns the extraordinary into the ordinary, the rare into the everyday, the special into the common.  It causes boredom and discontentment.  It is the source of so much contempt.  It makes the grass perpetually greener wherever you are NOT.  Its source can’t possibly be anything other than Satan himself.

Prophets weren’t born spouting prophecy.  They were born and grew up within families, among friends, and surrounded by a community of neighbors.  All of them first knew the prophet as an ordinary Jew for a long period of time before God gave the person in question His prophetic call.  By then, familiarity had set in within the family and community, and their ability to comprehend their family member / friend / neighbor’s new status was hopelessly compromised.

Jesus was of course more than a prophet.  He was the long promised Messiah, and He didn’t mind announcing it in ways unmistakable to Jewish ears.  Not only were His siblings and neighbors battling familiarity, they were also battling their misconceptions about the nature of their God.  As much as they may have believed that His thoughts were higher than their thoughts and His ways were higher than their ways, they never considered that maybe, just maybe, this One God revealed to them through Moses and the prophets was more complex in His internal nature (i.e. the Trinity) than can be comprehended by fallen human minds.  Their assumptions concerning God didn’t include His possible incarnation as a man, a Jewish Rabbi, hailing from a backwater region such as Galilee.  If the promised Messiah was really going to be God in human flesh, then it would most certainly be the flesh of a great conquering warrior king in the mold of David.

Familiarity.  False, unsupported assumptions about God, His nature, or His plans.  Either can play havoc with our ability to perceive truth.  Combined, they caused people privileged to spend many years living their lives with God incarnate to be thoroughly blinded to the Light of the World walking among them.

Dear God, please show me all the blessings You’ve given me that I’m blinded to because of the curse of familiarity, and give me the capacity to appreciate them as fully as they deserve.  Even more importantly, please destroy every assumption I have of You that does not come from Your own revelation provided in scripture.  Please let me always see You for who You truly are. Lord, open my eyes that I may see!  Amen.

Michael  (mmattix)

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Filed under 66 Books, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Mark, New Testament

Malachi 1-4

Scripture

“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the LORD Almighty. “It you, O priests, who show contempt for my name. “But you ask, ‘How have we shown contempt for your name?” Malachi 1:6 NIV

When you say, ‘The altar of God is not important anymore; worship of God is no longer a priority,’ that’s defiling. Malachi 1:7 The Message

And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.  Malachi 3:18 NIV

Observation

Israel angered God with their disrespect, sacrifices of blemished animals, intermarriage with pagans and withholding of tithes and offerings.  God was in their lives, but he was clearly not a priority.  The people needed reminding, warning, and encouragement.  God would provide for their salvation.  The way was being prepared for One who would be God’s reflection shining in his chosen faithful.  God would be exalted once more and relationship with his people would be restored.

Application

Though I may deny it, God is not always a priority in my life. When my family and friends get my best, God often gets my leftovers – the last fruits of my time, talents and treasure. My bible time and devotions slide further down the to-do list, where I have little energy to spare. God gets the dregs of my attention. How am I any different than Israel? God does not deserve sloppy seconds.  Instead of becoming an idol and building a fan base, I should desire to be God’s biggest fan and to idolize Him alone.

Prayer

Lord, I don’t want to keep defiling what should be sacred. Redirect my gaze away from myself and toward you. Forgive me. Restore me. May I appreciative  how Jesus paid my sin debt forever. Only in Jesus I believe and pray. Amen

Yica reggie

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