Category Archives: 2019 History

Men of Valor

1 Chronicles 10-13 tells us the exploits of 30 men of valor, often referred to as the “30”. Actually there were 37 in total listed as part of the heroic group of fighting men. Saul was known for his “drafting” men in support of Israel’s army. David did not draft men, they were “attracted” to him. These chapters record for us the mighty men of valor who surrounded David in his struggle and battles with King Saul and the Philistines to be the reigning king as Samuel the Judge and Prophet had anointed him to be.

I personally like this passage for it reminds me of what men use to be like. My father was a noble man, not a large man at 5′ 7″, but every ounce was true man. All you had to do was talk with him or shake his hand and you would recognize him to be a “man’s man!”

Some of the names are missing from the list here in Chronicles, but found else where [2 Samuel 23:11-12]. I kept on looking for the third man to be named, but had to research it and find his name in the 2 Samuel 23 passage.

It is interesting to see the list as they are presented to us from each of the tribes. Now having already read the Books of Kings, we know that that Judah and Israel were divided over David. Judah quickly embraced David as King, but many in Israel [to become the Northern tribes later] held out over David, but chose to embrace Ishbosheth instead.  Eventually, all of the tribes came to David and claimed him as King.

There is a name that I happen to stumble on of the listed names, but hadn’t made the connection. Really, many names are repeated over and over, so I didn’t make the correlation. The Name is Uriah the Hittite in 1 Chronicles 11:41. Yes you guessed it, this is the same Uriah that King David had an affair with his wife – Bathsheba. Yes the same Uriah that was eventually slain in the battlefield, after Joab left him in the heat of the battle against the enemy. Whoa! Let that sink in a bit. In our reading we find these men are men of distinction and valor. Valor means great courage in the face of danger, especially in battle; Strength of mind in regard to danger; that quality which enables a person to encounter danger with firmness; personal bravery; courage; prowess; intrepidity.

Okay, now that we have identified what kind of man Uriah was, we know what kind of death he was subjected to – does anyone else see the great hypocrisy of David exposed here? The betrayal is beyond words. Uriah counted as one of the “30 men of valor” that secured David the throne of Israel is treated with such utter contempt!

I get the image of Jesus looking at Peter after he denied him three times. Uriah had done nothing wrong, and gave unwavering allegiance to David, and without so much as a second thought David orders Joab to put Uriah up front then withdraw from him so he would be killed – why? SO that David’s sin would be hid – or so he thought.

Sin affects innocent people, valorous people. We live in a world today that is filled with contempt for other human life. I don’t know how many who are reading this have ever been betrayed by someone who took their allegiance and friendship of no value? There will be times in our living that those whom we hold the dearest will let us down, even betray us, cheapened our lives as meaningless. Uriah died – but many of us are still alive. We must know that as believers Jesus has sent us our like lambs before ravenous wolves. Our resolve must be like that of Uriah – faithful to the end.

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Genealogies And Why they are Important

1 Chronicles 1-7 are very important to Jewish history and property rights. Many times Christians come to genealogical records and just skip over all the unpronounceable names. Here in our reading we are privileged to read the multiple records of Judah/Israel ancestries. Genesis is broken-down into various “Record books” of lineage. I just did the 23 and Me genealogy test to find out more about my ancestry. Some people are afraid to do such a thing for fear of what they might find out about their relatives. The capturing of Israel/Judah history speaks to the authenticity of the Bible. If man were writing the Bible we would have left out a lot of the negative shenanigans of the people and cleaned it up to make us look favorable. The writer of 1/2 Chronicles has been attributed to Ezra, the scribe. All of the names and lineages begin with Adam and include the Patriarchal Fathers like Noah, Seth, Abraham, Isaac and Israel [Jacob]. We are given the lines of Isaac and Ishmael and the sons of Keturah, Abraham’s second wife. Quickly the writer delves into the 12 sons of Jacob and their ancestors. We are given extensive accounting of King David’s line, to include his many wives and children. There is a method to all the names; in that the writer is getting to a point of identifying the ancestry line of Jesus Christ. This line can be found in Matthew 1 and Luke 3. It becomes obvious to the reader that the line from Judah is most important; for from that line will come the Messiah.

A question I am sure everyone asks while reading the myriad of names is WHY are they so important? Well, 1 Chronicles gives us the historical line from creation to Abraham, then through Jacob’s son’s then through David’s line. The Messianic Line; the line of Promise and perpetual covenant. David was promised that there would always be one of his line on the throne of Judah. Jesus being the final King to sit upon the throne  – as He becomes the Lion of Judah. While there is prophetic and Messianic connections there is one more point that makes the lineage connections important.

With the deportation of all the nobles, craftsmen and skilled people to Babylon and only the poorest of people left remaining; how can the Jews [as they are now called] reestablish their inheritance in the Promise Land when they return? In other words who is rightful owner of the property, what tribe do they belong to and what authority do they have to inhabit the Land? The problem comes when “rightful” owners had to prove their ancestry and inheritance lines. During the 70 years of deportation and exile, the left behind people inter-married with the Assyrian “imported” people. Understanding the rightful owner had to prove purity of line. Ezra condemned the inter-marrying that occurred; not on racial basis, but spiritual lines. [Ezra 9]

The extensive details of who begat who was the litmus test to proving ones line and right to the land upon returning from Babylon. If you could not prove you lineage, you forfeited any claim to the Promised Land. So what does all this mean for us today? While there is growing interest in where we came from, as Believers the ability to prove our lineage/ancestry enables us to know Where we are going.

We are [those by faith in Jesus Christ] now the Sons of God, heirs and joint-heirs with Jesus. There will be a similar requirement of identification. It is found in Revelation 20:11-15. In this verification of lineage; those whose names are recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life will enter into an inheritance of Eternal Life in the New Jerusalem. Those whose names are missing, will be cast out of the Hold City and exiled to Gehenna Hell. Our heavenly ancestry avails us to all rights and privileges of the King – King of Kings and Lord of Lords – Jesus Christ the Son of God who died and gave Himself for me.

It is interesting to know where one came from; but more important to know where was is bound! There are many I am sure that think that because they hang around with heirs of Salvation, that they get to come along, but sadly, only those whom the King recognizes as His will obtain the unsearchable riches of God.

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Judah Cast from Yahweh’s Presence

2 Kings 24-25; the end of the road for Judah. Fallen is Samaria and Israel – the Northern Kingdom [Lost 10 tribes]; a 150 later noting has been learned by Judah. Assyria and Egypt had been fighting for control of the “Promised Land” – somehow through pay-offs and treaties Judah was able to live in relative peace. Kings like Uzziah and Hezekiah who did right in the eyes of the Lord extended their existence. Judah was not without sin; but God was faithful to keep His covenant that he made with David even though Judah deserved the same judgment as Israel for their idolatrous ways. I think that Israel/Judah felt they were exempt from the judgment of God that He displayed on the Canaanite tribes. However, Israel and Judah followed the sins, iniquities, transgressions and abominations of the nations God had expelled out of the “inheritance” of Israel.  This is not the first or the last time that arrogance and pride will cause Judah/Israel to be led into captivity. Jeremiah and so many other prophetic voices warned Israel and Judah to repent and return to the ways of the Lord. Jeremiah preaches 50 years, yet all he gain was deaf ears to his message.

After faithful King Josiah is killed, there is a series of kings with a very limited reign and influence. The world power shifts at this point from Egypt and Assyria to Babylon, more specifically to King Nebuchadnezzar. Because Judah persisted in rebellion and idol worship, God allowed Babylon to come to power and lead them [Judah] into captivity and make the Promise Land desolate except for the poorest of people. The Promise Land laid waste!!!!!!!   Why?  Easy answer Judah and Israel left God for gods – But I think that the Promise Land had become so polluted, God and to “Purge” the land of the people and idols so He could restore it again under Ezra and Nehemiah. Sometimes I think that there needs to be a purging of the Church Body before God can do His work in the lives of the Remnant.

An undertone is how God is Merciful even in His judgment. There were three deportations by Babylon – the land was stripped of all the royalty, educated, skilled and craftsmen. Judah was also allowed to continue [return] to worship Yahweh. The exile of Judah was prescribed and implemented under the Hand of God. Jeremiah told Judah “don’t resist the Babylonians, but go into the land, build houses and live among your captive masters. Isaiah 45-66 is called the Post-Exilic chapters of Isaiah or better known as Deutro-Isaiah. Many prophets foretold of the return of God’s people after 70 years in exile.

As bad as it was in the destruction and deportation of Judah, the siege of Jerusalem and the starvation of the people; God was still merciful in that He did not destroy all the people, but left a remnant. We may be looking at a similar situation here in our own USA; the condition of the Church is deplorable; the Gospel has been polluted; we worship our worship not God in our services. I truly believe God is not pleased with the Bride! But there is a remnant that hold to the Truth of God’s Word, it will be the Remnant that God will use – like the Church in Sardis there are those who have not “soiled their garments.” We the Church today must take heed to the warning given to Strengthen what remains, to Hold fast to the Truth.

Years ago America thought it was invincible from attack from an enemy on its own shores – thinking that the distance was too far for the enemy to attack unnoticed – then Pearl Harbor happened and took away the arrogance and pride of invincibility. God is doing a great work among many other “pagan” nations. The Chinese and the Muslim countries are experiencing great numbers of converts to Christ. Yet here in America the church is dying and has gone into apostasy in much of the land.

Will America be restored? Will there be a revival? Will the Church heed the warnings of Israel and Judah? Will America have to Fall before it returns to the Lord? All questions we must answer personally and collectively.

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Boy King acts Like a Man

2 Kings 22-23 is the account of Josiah the 8 year old king of Judah and how he grows into a man of God. When we left off Kings Hezekiah was sick and asked the Lord to heal him and extend his life. God hears his prayers and grants him 15 more years to live. The are not productive years, for he acts foolish during those years with prideful boasting of the riches in the Temple. He also has a son names Manasseh, the most wicked immoral king Judah ever had. He worshipped the god Molech and makes Judah sin by throwing their sons into the fire to appease Molech. Now it makes you wonder sometimes, if it would have been better for Hezekiah to have died earlier instead of getting a longer life? We would not have had Manasseh or Amon the two wicked idolatrous kings rule over Judah; but then again we would have had Josiah as king either. Amon doesn’t reign very long as king, I suppose the people got tired of all the idolatry. Anyway Josiah becomes king at 8 years old. At 18 we read that he tells all the money collected in the Temple tax from the people to be used to restore and repair the dilapidated Temple of Solomon. Incidentally; Jeremiah begins his prophetic ministry during this time. [See Jeremiah 1]

A sad commentary happens when the priest Hilkiah tells Shaphan the scribe that he has found the “book of the Law” in the ruins of the Temple. Now before you get to thinking too far in advance – the Temple had not been attacked by outsiders, but had been neglected by the people of God. I have seen this happen in my time as pastor, where the Church facility had become a disgrace to the Lord and the public because it had not been cared for properly. Some may be saying right now that the Church isn’t the building – sure but it is the place of worship and people come to it to worship – what statement does your church facilities say about your commitment to God? The community does notice such things. The sad thing here is the Temple [Church] is in ruins from neglect, yet there was plenty of money to do what was necessary – in fact they didn’t even keep strict accounting of what was spent! Back to the Book of the Law, most likely it is the Book of Deuteronomy. When it is read Josiah tears his clothes in sorrow and repentence.

I have an outline for you here:

Remember, read, repent, restore and reform.

This is what happened when Josiah heard the Word of God. It sound like it could be a prescription for revitalization and revival.  Josiah this child King will bring glory back to the House of the Lord, and begin tearing down the “high places” that his grandfather and father built and maintained. It is said that Josiah did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord. Josiah had to tear down the high places that even Solomon built for Ashtoreth and Baal. The reason they were built  was Solomon married many foreign women as a means to keep peace on his borders; but the result was apostasy for Judah.

Josiah does extensive reforms during his short time as king [31 years]; the problem was that it was a result of Josiah coming under convictions and repentance not the people. For as soon as Josiah dies [because of an ill-advised war] the people and priesthood return to idolatry with Baal.

In chapter 23:21 a very confusing statement – Josiah commands that the Passover be reinstituted, for it had not been observed since the time of the Judges. What is the world? That’s over 500 years of failure to remember what God did miraculously at the Red Sea and Egypt? Scripture also tells us that Josiah removes the “mediums, spiritisms, teraphim, idols and all the abominations.” How low Judah had fallen; yet we cannot say much because if we look at our own churches and nation, we will be indicted for our idolatry – oh that we would remember the Word of the Lord, Read it and Repent of our sins, begin to restore the glory of God back to His place of worship and institute Reforms for the Church and the Community. Sadly, Josiah was the las king to have favorable comments from the Lord about him.

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Kings and More Kings

2 Kings 11-17; I have included a number of chapters together. Most of the reading over the last couple of weeks seemed to get boring if not redundant. King and king is described with how he took the throne, and how he was removed from the throne. The kings we read about are from Aram, Assyria, Judah and Israel. Out of my own curiosity I search to see if there was a single document that listed all the kings – yes there is – Google The kings of Israel & Judah and you will get a nice colorized version of all the kings during the united and divided kingdoms. This period of time in bible history is very depressing. Kings would come to power in Israel [northern kingdom] through coup de tat or through relatives  killing the off. Of the 19 kingdoms in the North – all did evil, the only exception was Jehu, who was considered mixed. The Northern ten tribes are whisked off the pages of history with the fall of Samaria in 722 BC. I found it quite interesting how Israel and Judah tried to buy their security with the very enemy that would destroy them, and in Judah’s case, the buying cost came from the riches of the Temple that Solomon built. Two historical figures from world history are identified – Tiglath-pileser of Assyria and Shalmanesar also king of Assyria. These two kings from Damascus were used by God to punish the idolatry and wickedness that reigned in Israel. I kept reading the same sentence over and over in regards to the evil Israelite kings – “He did evil in the sight of the Lord; he did not depart  from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat; which he made Israel sin.” All I could think of was how shameful the name and legacy of Jeroboam was to be identified with the continual sin of Israel for 19 generations! 

Judah was somewhat better, but Judah doesn’t get a free pass. Judah had their evil kings too. Twelve of Nineteen did evil in the sight of the LORD. Two long reigning kings Asa and Uzziah were the longest “good kings.” If we go back to the united kingdoms we find that Saul did evil, and Solomon did right in his youth, but evil in his old age.

When I think of all the despots and tyrants that have ruled the earth in the last few hundred years, I wonder how our God in heaven has been able to tolerate we – His creation?! The times of the kings indicates how absolute corruption is the default condition for most earthly kings. I’m reminded the Jesus said – “My kingdom is not of this world.” Even when there were good kings, there was always one BUT. . . they did not tear down the high places, and people offered incense on the high places. This tells me that there were “reforms” but not repentance. We find that King Josiah a good king, did a great work in trying to restore Judah back to the Father. However, it was seen as Josiah reforms, not the people, for as soon as he departs history, four evil kings follow.

I think back at our own day and time – we ask the question whether a president is a good one or a bad one? We have to be careful with this because we do have deconstructionists that are trying to rewrite history to their liking. Time has to pass of sufficient length for that to be known. Our deconstructionists friends have brought great dispute on what many of us have been taught throughout our lives. Anyway! Scripture tells us that there is no power given except that which is given by God. A thought I had when reading about all the evil in high places; what about the people that lived during the time of an evil king? Now I know back then most of the people were far enough removed, that who was in power didn’t affect their lives. Let’s ask that question of today? Are w living in good government or bad? The question has an answer besides yes or no – God knows! He is in control, therefore we are admonished to be in subjection to all authority over us. Kings and Presidents will give an account for their power given them to rule; we will give account for our obedience.

Kings and Queens concepts that as Americans we miss – We have a King in Jesus Christ – He has absolute power to rule, it has been given to Him [Matthew 28:18-20], yet how many of us subjects of His divine kingdom, give him the just due respect and obedience? We are subjects of an eternal kingdom; we must not let ourselves be taken in by the here and now kingdoms. Be found faithful in honoring and obeying laws of the Land and the Law of Truth in our hearts.

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Days of Elisha

2 Kings 3-7; we have all probably heard the song “These are the days of Elijah” on Christian radio; but this blog will reflect on the days of Elisha, the successor to Elijah. Elisha followed Elijah around to various places including Bethel and Jordan before being taken up in a whirlwind and as we all know the Chariots of fire. Elijah was a renown prophet, famous for being caught away by the Spirit just when people thought they had captured him. Elisha followed Elijah in a very strange exchange from one prophet to another. While reading the story it seemed as if Elijah could care less about Elisha.  We know that Elijah has a second person like unto him – John the Baptist, who was prophesied in Malachi 4.  Elijah tells Elisha only if he is present and catches the mantle/coat of Elijah as he is taken up will he receive his request of getting a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. As the story goes, Elisha does catch the mantle and is ushered in as the prophet heir-apparent during this very volatile time in Judah/Israel history.

What follows in our reading is miracle after miracle from the hands of Elisha. I wondered why we don’t celebrate miracles more often? Could it be that we are not looking for them? Or worse yet we really don’t believe that God still does miracles; so we don’t “pray through” for them? In our current skeptical and charlatan days where people fake miracles to draw a crowd or to take advantage of naïve desperate people in their malady’s; few see healings as miracles.

Faith healers have given a bad testimony to the work of the Lord Jesus and the faith expressed by praying saints. In our day of science and modern medicine, and I guess we could include the ever-increasing “essential oils” movement – people attribute healings or cures “other than God.” Jesus spoke truth to people, but they clamored inside packed houses and even tore roofs off houses to get a chance at being healed. Jesus told his skeptics that “if they didn’t believe His words, believe the works that He did” as testimony that He was the Son of God, doing the work of God.

In the stories recounted for us in our readings this week, they are desperate situations; yet they are not without similar stories in the Old and New Testament elsewhere. The Widow’s oil miracle in 2 Kings 4- resonates with Jesus feeding of the 5,000 and the miracle with Elijah and the widow of Zarephath oil and meal being replenished. Even the story of the Shunamite woman becoming pregnant reminds us of Hannah and Samuel and Elizabeth and John the Baptist. Elisha continues miracles with the Shunamite woman when her son dies and is brought back to life. Three people were raised from the dead by Jesus, and Paul revived a boy who fell out of the balcony while he was preaching. Elisha and the healing of the leper Naaman by dipping in the river Jordan, speaks of the mud and blind man Jesus heals. Over and over in the scripture we have story after story of how people were healed or delivered from a crisis by the work and word of God.

The greatest work of miracles is the salvation of people by the “faith in Jesus as the Son of God and Savior’s work at Calvary.” Can a leopard’s spots be changed? Yes, a thousand times yes. Can a sinner’s past sins and reprobate mind be transformed – absolutely. Now I know that God doesn’t heal everyone, in the bible and in our day. What determines if a person gets healed or not? Not up to me – I have no answer for that – way above my pay grade. Yet I cringe at pastors and other believers who condemn people because healing didn’t occur. The indictment for those not healed is explained away by “you just didn’t have enough faith.” Nothing could be more asinine that to tell someone who in their despair. DO I believe miracles happen today? Yes, sure do, but I think the miracles are missed because we can explain them away. Does a miracle have to be something that is only explainable by God’s doing – probably. But doesn’t God work in the world we live?

Elisha was used to show forth the glory of God through countless miracles – even the floating axe head that was borrowed. The vision/miracle in 2 Kings 6 with the King of Aram coming against Israel, and the fearful servant asks “what shall we do?” Elisha says “Oh Lord I pray open his eyes that he may see!”  Opening the eyes of the servant – he saw the Mighty army of God – I challenge all of us to open our eyes and see that our salvation draweth nigh!

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What goes around comes around

1 Kings 20-22; I am always amazed at the grace and mercy of God towards people. In these three chapters, we find the climax of King Ahab of Israel [Northern Tribes]. As notorious and idolatrous that he and his abominable wife Jezebel were, God still extended mercy to King Ahab for the mere display of humility [1 Kings 21:27-29] In God’s extending mercy to Ahab, I hear the so often repeated “I can’t believe God would forgive someone like him/her! Our God is so merciful and longsuffering towards ANYONE who is willing to show authentic repentance and humility. Good thing for if not we all would be doomed!

But let’s think about this – King Ahab, the same guy who battled with Elijah, who brought Jezebel and the Baal worship, was worse than any that had gone before him; this wimp of a man who whimpers to his wife because Naboth wouldn’t sell him his vineyard, the one who is arrogant, conceited, vile, abominable, a reprobate, despicable person and because he shows some remorse over his sentence from God and humbles himself; God, Jehovah, Elohim, the creator of the universe and all that exist, the God who delivered Moses and the people from Egypt, parted the Red sea, condemned and destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, destroyed the entire world with a Flood, save 8 people. This God who names the stars and tells the waves to refrain – this omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent God recognized a worthless man display some humility – and pardons all the fury and wrath He intended to do to him? Yes, sure, uh huh, absolutely. You know what He did the very same thing for you and me! Praise be the name of our Father in Heaven for His unsearchable riches in mercy!

The wrath of God is only exceeded by His Mercy and Grace. You and I wouldn’t do anything like that; what goes around comes around – old Ahab gonna get just what he dished out – I’m not forgiving or forgetting the sorry so and so! Or so we would act in our own smug righteousness. Praise God we have a Savior and God in heaven that isn’t like us!

Looking at this passage we also see some of the dastardly actions of Ahab – he hates God’s prophets – Elijah and Micaiah because all they do is tell the Word of the Lord – which understandably is against King Ahab. I wonder how many people we surround ourselves with just so they can tell us what we want to hear?

The sad part about these chapters is when God recognized Ahab’s humility [because of a crisis of his own making] and spares the wrath intended; Ahab goes right back to doing the same junk all over again activating the Anger of the Lord back upon himself. I think we all are a bit like Ahab; if there is a crisis coming upon us because of our own foolishness; we turn and cry out the name of God; but as soon as the crisis or pain subsides, we are right back at what we were doing before against God. I like Micaiah, he wasn’t afraid to say the truth while everyone else gave the lie. Yet when it came down to it – Ahab wanted Micaiah to speak the truth.

Ahab ended his life sadly, when it could have been so different – please since you are reading this far, I wonder would you give God in Heaven a display of repentance and humility that is authentic so He may bestow His benevolent love and mercy on you? Jesus is prepared to forgive all your sins; and restore you to a right standing before God; the added gift of eternal life [His life in you] is yours for the asking. Don’t turn the mercy and longsuffering of God away!

 

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Much More [Easter blog]

Romans 5:8-10; Much More
Romans 5:8-10 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” [NASB]
This is an amazing passage from the Apostle Paul. The message in these few verses enunciates the message of the Gospel in a nutshell. The wonderful news that the Lord Jesus loves us [me] is the good news to a hurting sinner. God is the initiator of this love for us. There is nothing we can do to deserve or earn the love of God. [Eph. 2:8-10]. We know the Gospel, that Jesus saves the sinner from the reality of suffering in separation from Him in a real place called Gehenna Hell. Everyone I talk to seems to know that Jesus died because of sin, our sins. That is a Friday night message. I am sure that the Jerusalem Times ran the front page with “JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE GALILEAN PROPHET WAS CRUCIFIED ON GOLGOTHA’S HILL TODAY. The death of Jesus, barbaric as it was, is the plan of God to restore mankind and deliver us from the penalty, power and presence of sin. The initiator, God, loves you and I “while we are still in our sins.” While we were helpless – Romans 5:6; Jesus’ mission was to come and in obedience give His life a ransom for many. I am still overwhelmed by the love of God for me.
Millions have trusted in the vicarious death of Jesus for the forgiveness of sin, and deliverance from an eternity in Hell. I have heard so many preachers say that people are only interested in “fire insurance” as the reason for professing Jesus and being baptized. This cheapens salvation; Salvation is not about a destination change, but a destiny change.
On Friday we have the message of the cruel cross, the mock trials and the betrayal of the disciples. Friday means death. It is gruesome to read about and any visuals we could conger up in our minds would fall short of the agony Jesus endured. But while verse 8 extenuates the death of Jesus verse 9 says – MUCH MORE, having been justified by His blood we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. Again, this is the message, that Heaven not Hell is our destiny.
I walked the Friday night message in my walk with Jesus. I did so for some 15 years. But something was wrong, I wanted more than just a hope someday, I needed hope for the day! I learned that much of my Christian teaching was teaching me to trust Christ for salvation but work like a dog to prove that I was saved and do the proving/work in Church. I was churched not discipled! No, I needed more than just an escape from my sin penalty. I wanted life, the joy and power that John 10:10b says I can have. This is where verse 10 comes, we are cleansed and justified by the blood of Jesus – that’s Friday. But we are “saved” by His resurrected life! Oh, how grand that message. Yes, Jesus died, but the rest of the story is that Jesus lives. Not just resurrected, but somebody [Jesus] living in somebody [me]. That is Sunday morning news, that is Resurrection News. Sunday changed everything. The empty tomb confirms the promise of John 11:25-26, that anyone who believes in Jesus will never die.
The message of Easter is that Jesus did die, was buried, AND resurrected. I have found so many believers living out a self-defeated Christian life, absent of the power of the resurrection. If we are just content with not going to Hell, that’s only a Friday message. But if you want more, Much More – experience the Sunday Good News – Jesus the Christ is Alive – and He is alive in you. Galatians 2:20 – “I am crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I that live, but Christ lives in ME; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loves me and gave Himself up for me.” Quit living a Friday salvation, start enjoying the Resurrection power of Jesus Christ. His death gave us life; our death to self gives us His life in us! The Exchanged Life!!

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Days of Elijah

1 Kings 15-19; this is such a packed passage of reading, it seems almost unfair to only blog once on the passage. In the midst of the revolving door of kings both for Judah and Israel; God brings a mighty prophet to the forefront to deal with a most derogatory person in Ahab and his wife Jezebel.  The spiraling down spiritually for Israel has hit an all time low; Jezebel is the real ruler, all one has to do is read about the wimp of a man he is with respect to the belligerent Jezebel. The Northern Tribes have been entrenched in Baal worship, even Jezebel is credited with killing God’s prophets. Enter Elijah – from Tishbite, but no other advanced information is known about him. We do know that he was a powerful prayer warrior [James 5:17], to be able to pray and it not rain for 3 years. The phrase “and the word of the Lord came to him” is repeated in these chapters. At a time when it seems that everything has gone completely paganistic, there is an Elijah.

Elijah confronts Ahab, then disappears into the wilderness. Elijah is feed by ravens – they bring him daily bread and meat and he drinks from a brook. To be sure, ravens are carnage feeding birds – the eat road kill. I’m not sure how many of us actually catch the fact that for a time Elijah had a diet from the LORD of road kill! Soon he is aligned with the widow of Zarephath, and her son. I find the story a bit appalling in that on her way to fix a last meal, Elijah says feed me first. Her obedience as a non-Jew is particularly significant. As a result, the three of them live off a miracle of multiplication from the Lord [see the feeding of five thousand, another place where God multiplies little to feed His people].  Of course there is more to the story, the son dies and Elijah prays over him and lies on him and the “life” is returned. I found it humorous that the widow only after the son is revived that she knows that Elijah is a man of God. How soon she forgot the daily provision from an empty jar! The story of Elijah is a short one, his dealing with the Widow, the thorn in the side of Ahab and Jezebel and the Battle on Mt. Carmel. Just as quickly he comes on the scene, he departs leaving one called Elisha in his place. Before that, the rains come and Elijah hides from Jezebel in a cave, not just any cave, but a cave on Mt. Horeb i.e. Sinai. The story of Obadiah is a significant reminder to all pastors and ministers – we are not alone, we are not all that God has at His disposal. Elijah winds up running from Jezebel after a monumental victory on the Mountain. How often is that true in ministry? When there has been a great victory and blessing from God, we become fearful and faithless in the face of conflict.  The conversation between Elijah and Obadiah is sort of funny, but I guess that would only be true if you were Elijah. “Go tell Ahab I am here” – Obadiah “yeah right” just as soon as I say that, you’ll disappear and Ahab will kill me! The Spirit had a habit of whisking Elijah off to various places avoiding being caught – I thought of Phillip in Acts being whisked off to Gaza to meet the Eunuch.

We have the amazing display of God’s fire/power on Mt. Carmel in chapter 18. The confidence Elijah displays is in measure of his fear later with Jezebel. Elijah runs away, hides for 40 days on Mt. Horeb, the same place Moses had audience with God and received the Tablets of stone. In Chapter 19, Elijah is subjected to various natural phenomenon, yet God is not in any of the boisterous displays – it is in the “still small voice, rustling of wind that God is heard. I don’t have any idea how many times this scene has been encountered in reminding mankind that God is in the still small voice, that we must almost strain to hear.  Elijah, is as James says a man like unto us. We become fearful in the face of opposition, often forgetting what God has already brought us through. Elijah brings a valid excuse or reason from why he was there, but God doesn’t listen to the excuse and asks Elijah again “What are you doing here?” The same excuse is stated. I mentioned how slow the Widow of Zarephath was – Elijah has a memory problem too. God tells him, “get back to work” – so he returns and sets Hazael as king, Jehu as king and anoints Elisha as his successor. So are the days of Elijah. Huh, that’s it? Yep – Elijah is known for three or so years and then is ushered off the pages of history and scripture. This should remind us that our worth to God is not always in a long tenure, but being in the right place at the right time for the Glory of God! We live in a day where we need to have some Elijah’s to stand against the Ahab’s and Jezebel’s.

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Foolish Kings

1 Kings 10-14; David the King of Judah is gone, the man who was after God’s own heart, gone. Solomon now reigns in his place, but not without conflict. Solomon as we read last week was an extravagant king. All the luxury he enjoyed came with a price. Solomon had too many women/wives. To keep them content and happy he constructed idols of their gods. The wisest man ever, in his last days forsook God. While there was peace on all the borders, there was an up rise brewing in the people. Now we read that Solomon did not use the people of Israel to do the work of construction, but the taxing seems to be the issue Israel objected to. When Solomon fades on the scene, Rehoboam his son asks for advise from two groups of people. I talked with the elders, and the elders told him to give relief from the taxation. Rehoboam then talked with his peers [younger generation] and they advised him to not to relief the burden, but increase it. I’m not much on looking at polls and surveys, but this is one time Rehoboam should have listened to the Elders. Enter Jeroboam – who rebels against the king. The people were ready [i.e. Israel] to leave. Rehoboam had other adversaries raised up by God. God was going to do a work – Jeroboam would rule over ten tribes and Rehoboam over two [Benjamin and Judah] only because of God’s word given to David. We have issues today with listening to various generations. Pastors and leaders are encouraged to give full audience to the Millennials and Gen X and Z people. I can’t think of a more volatile time in history. So many polls/surveys are being conducted to find out what people want and what they will support. Our own political system appears to be bankrupt, with socialism gaining more and more support. It is a sad few chapters we have to read this week. From a glorious reign of a king, to a divided kingdom. Jeroboam is so arrogant that he rejects God who gave him the ten tribes. He raises up Baal and Asherah idols for fear that the people will return to Jerusalem to worship and wind up staying. Our passage says that Jeroboam did more evil than all the fathers before him. There is a ray of hope – we hear the prophecy of Josiah being born. Albeit, the revival will only be temporary and superficial. This divided kingdoms of North and South, Judah and Israel will continue on until, the fall of Israel and Samaria around 722 BC. We will have kings like Hezekiah, Ammon, Ahab and the like. The idolatry and immorality will become so entrenched into the life of both kingdoms, God will scatter Israel, and send Judah into Babylonian captivity. 19 kings and one dynasty [Davidic] for Judah, but 19 kings and 19 dynasties for Israel in the North. How could such a blessed people forget so soon the blessings they received from Jehovah? I guess America could ask the same question. This point in history is filled with politics, immorality, deception and fear. Except the fear is not of the LORD, but of man. When I think of all the Father did to establish Israel as His people, and we as His Bride the Church, I am saddened because people knew better and still chose to satisfy their own fleshly appetites, rejecting God who literally “birthed” them into a people. Warning after warning is given for people to repent, yet the warning goes unheeded. We pray today for revival – revival of the Church, of the people of God. Yet there seems to be a demonic hold on mankind to continually reject the Savior Jesus. I wonder how log-suffering and merciful with God continue to be with us; Personally and collectively before He acts in judgment?

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