How many of my own sins, that I freely myself chose to commit against God, does God use against me to keep His promises with me???
Today in the Bible reading we meet Josiah for the second time. We read about him for the first time back in 2 Kings 21-22. Josiah is one of my favorite Bible characters and at the same time he is also a very interesting character to study deeper. Josiah becomes King at 8 years old. Wow, God can use anyone at any age for His purposes. I have a 9 year old and could never imagine him being King over God’s people, so this shows that even at 8 God can and will use anyone for His plans and will give that person the wisdom needed to fulfill said plans. At the age of 16 Josiah begins to earnestly seek after God. This shows again that any person at any age can be a true pure worshipper of God. There should never be any excuse from anyone that they cannot serve God because of age or whatever else can be an excuse. When I was 16, I went to church and would worship God on Sundays, but I would not have said that I was seeking wholeheartedly after God in all that I did. And I grew up in the church. Josiah did not grow up at a young age in Yahweh worship, yet here he is at 16 seeking after only God. That means we can seek after God only at any age, any life circumstance, and with any background. There is never any excuse. Then at 26 Josiah becomes a full fledge leader in reforming the worship in Israel back to God only. Josiah, already seeking God, humbles himself and leads others with him back to God alone. This shows us that God can use anyone, young or old, to be a leader for Him. Do you have God honoring worshipful influence on others? Then you’re a leader for God to, just like Josiah was. Because Josiah is faithful to God and is leading God’s people back to a worship of God only, God makes a promise to Josiah telling him that Josiah would not see the promised coming destruction of the Temple and Israel. God tells Josiah, “because you were faithful to Me, I will be faithful to you and not allow you to see the coming judgment”. And how does God keep His promise? This I find to be one of the most interesting things about Josiah. Josiah at 39, still a younger man, gets full of pride and picks a fight he should have never done with Pharaoh Neco, who is passing through the land. See Pharaoh Neco was passing through the land to do God’s bidding in going to help destroy the Assyrians. Neco tells Josiah, “God has sent me on this mission, please do not stop me or fight against be but let me do God’s bidding”. Josiah does not listen to Neco, gets prideful and goes to war and gets killed. Josiah dies at a young age because of Hs pride. This strikes me very interestingly in that God keeps His promise to Josiah in not seeing the coming judgement by using Josiah’s sin against Him. God fulfills His plan, keeps His promise, and does His will by using the sin of Josiah, while using Neco to fulfill it, against himself. This always makes me wonder,
How many of my own sins, that I freely myself chose to commit against God, does God use against me to keep His promises with me???
As the Bible reading and devotional pointed out, Judah when Hezekiah became King was in a stay of spiritual and physical impending death. As the devotional also pointed out, Hezekiah also knew where to start. When things are in crumbles, focus and restore a pure worship of God. Repent of the sin that was and is being committed, reorganize life around God, and begin again to set your love and focus on Him. After all of this is done, leave the rest of it to Him to figure out and just continue to worship and look to Him. This is what Hezekiah does and is a reminder for us about what to do. When all that we do is focus and worship God, He will respond by taking care of us. God will protect us, provide for us, bless us, equip us to serve and do life better, and reward us for blessing Him. This is true for us in all aspects of life. Do not focus on the broken down car, the sickness, stress of work, the church decline, the impending retirement, and any other worldly distractions. Focus on God only and worship Him, and He will take care of all those other things for you. Follow Hezekiah’s example and when life gets you down and things seem depressing, focus on God only, worship Him, and know He will take care of you.
Monday’s readings were a bit shorter and slowed down the narrative of the writings a little bit. This gave us the chance to seem in more detail some of the good and bad points of 3 Kings of Judah. And as the reading and story slowed down and gave more attention to detail one important truth and theme came through in all 3 chapters. 2 Chronicles 26:18 highlights that one day Uzziah got proud and went into the Temple to offer sacrifices of his own to God. This pride led to disobedience and ultimately resulted in the death of Uzziah. The next verse states that men of courage went it and got Uzziah out of the Temple and set him straight. Then later in chapter 28, King Ahaz deals with pride himself and instead of going back to God for help and worship, Ahaz runs to other countries and other gods for help. The pride of Ahaz led him astray right from the start. I found the themes of pride running all through the text as I read and I believe that verse 18 is a key to beating pride in our lives. Courage is I believe opposite of pride. When we are courageous, we do what is right no matter what the cost. When we are courageous we take risks even at the expense of ourselves. When we are courageous we know God has it all figured out and is in control and we obey Him no matter what. When we are courageous we trust that Jesus will work it all out for His good and glory. When we are courageous we are never full of pride. And I think courage is a lost attribute of Christians today. We would rather just go with the flow and not offend anyone or look bad. We would sooner be comfortable than do what is right. We would sooner have more friends and feel the love of the world than know the love of God by loving Him first. We would rather not feel pain so we do whatever is necessary to not have it. If you love Jesus, you need to find more courage in every single aspect of your life. That is the bottom line and courage when it is found leads to humility and not pride.
*26:22 mentions Isaiah son of Amoz. This is the Prophet Isaiah that is a book of the Bible, which we will be reading through later this summer together. *
As has become my custom over the last few weeks, I would like to share some thoughts from the reading this past weekend and I will take a look at today’s reading in the blog tomorrow.
Many times we can understand the application of a particular text by understanding the conflict between the characters. Most times the conflict takes place between God and His people so the verbs related to their actions towards one another (God and His people) are a key to understanding what is to be taken away. Sometimes it is good for us through, to also look at the adjectives given to the characters of the story. In the reading this weekend one verb and one adjective jumped out at me and reminded me of important Biblical implicational truth for my life.
The people of Judah were prostituting themselves to idol worship. This verb is very relevant for us today. Just this past weekend in the news a story surfaced about a gentlemen running a prostitution ring out of his business. Prostitution is a real thing that is very wrong, very real, very gross, very sinful, very focused on the experience of pleasure, and very contrary towards God and His character. As a good Christian man I would never partake of prostitution for many reasons starting with the fact I love my wife more than life itself. But the text this weekend reminded me I partake of prostitution every day. Anytime I worship an idol or god other than God almighty, I am committing an act of prostitution. Any time I find more pleasure in something other than God, I prostituted myself out. Any time I find more satisfaction in something or someone, than in God my Savior, I have been a part of prostitution. This weekend I was reminded that I am not any better than the gentlemen that was caught running real physical prostitution. Oh but for the grace of God, I.
This adjective jumped out to me yesterday in the reading of another King of Judah. David was a man after the heart of God, which means David’s heart was set, focused, and bent to worship God only. This other King of Judah, and ancestor of David, had his heart compromised. Yes, King Amaziah did worship God as God but he also had other junk in his heart sitting on a throne next to God. Do you know why Amaziah had his heart compromised? He was compromised because it was comfortable for him. And this is the same for us today in this life. Who else is sharing your heart with God; America, a sports team, a friend or spouse, a child, a food, some money, a job, comfort? The list can go on. We, especially in America have comprised hearts for God because it keeps us happy and comfortable. Remember, worship of God alone is challenging, work, risky, comes with suffering, and is a daily demand. How many of us compromise our hearts and are not whole hearted in our worship and joy of God because we do not want to work at our relationship with Him?
Over the last couple of days and even continuing into the next couple, repentance has been talked about and shown in the lives of the Kings of Judah. Sometimes we see true repentance happening and at other times we see a fake repentance happening. This coming Sunday we will be looking at the topic of repentance and understanding what it actually is. In the teaching time I will be giving 12 signs to know that a genuine heart experienced repentance. Today I want to list in writing the 12 signs for us.
Today’s reading continues the topic of worship. We read a prayer of Solomon as he is worshipping God at the dedication of the Temple. This coming Sunday we will look at God’s response in the teaching time in chapter 7. But reading through Solomon’s prayer got me thinking about prayer as worship. It also got me to thinking what would a prayer of mine look like if it was written down. So today I want to share a prayer of mine that I wrote down. Try writing some of your prayers down and reading over them hours, days, weeks, and even years later. So what you can learn about your prayer life and how it is worship to God.
Perfect Father, thank You for who You are.
Thanks for the ways I saw you working today in my life even in this broken world.
Father your grace and mercy were evident everywhere today, so thank you for allowing me to see it
and I pray that you would open my eyes to see more tomorrow.
Father, your love is great
and thank you for loving me today even when I hurt you in my sin.
Thank you for allowing me to love others in a simple form like the way you love me
and I pray that you can give me more courage and patience tomorrow to love even more people through you
Father you know I stumble and fall a lot
so I pray that you will forgive me of the ways and hurts that I have committed to you.
thank you for the joy you have in me as you forgive me and purify me
and I pray to that I can find the joy in forgiveness of others
Father, thank you for the ways that you provide for me in my needs even before I know them
and thank you for the ways you are already meeting my needs tomorrow.
I pray that you can provide in my life right now in my preparation for the test
and I thank you already for the way you will meet my needs on Thursday.
Father, I pray now that you will guard me as I study to learn more of you
and to retain my knowledge so I can give you more glory through this experience.
I also ask that you will calm my nerves so that I can focus this week on what is more important
and thank you for my wife who is caring for me this week as I study
and help me not to neglect her but give her the due time she needs
Father, thank you for this opportunity and chance to learn
Help me to praise and worship you even through the stress and challenge it is.
Thank you for being in control and running the show
I pray that you will help me to trust you more and more each day
So yesterday we started the book of 2 Chronicles (today is a catch-up day). 2 Chronicles picks right up where 1 Chronicles leaves off. That is because in the original Hebrew Scriptures they were 1 entire book. So the train of thought continues from 1 Chronicles into 2 Chronicles. This train of thought is about orderly worship and the organization and structure of the Temple of Yahweh. We need to remember as we read through this book over the next 10 days that it was written by Priests (most likely Ezra) after the return of the exiles. This is why worship is such an important focus in the writing because it was written by men who all they cared about was worship in life and in the Temple.
That begs the questions for us, how much do we care about worship. One scholar has stated that we always every time become what we worship. That means whatever we worship with our lives is what we become. We worship money, well we become greedy penny-pinchers who are selfish and could be called Scrooge. We worship sex and lustful pleasure, well we will become the next sex offender in some form. We worship fame, we become someone who is only out for attention and get it any way possible and any expense necessary. We worship food, we become 400 pounds and die of a heart attack at 50. We worship success, we become all about promotion and getting our due no matter what that effects. We worship being comfortable, then we will never sacrifice or do anything hard or challenging in life. And this list could go on and on and on. What we worship we become, every time. So that means if we want to become more like Jesus, the only way to do that is to only every time worship Him.
How much does your worship matter to you?
I have been away the last 2 days, so today I want to share an important thought I found from the reading that closed the end of 1 Chronicles. Today we read the first few chapters of 2 Chronicles and I will deal with those chapters in the blog tomorrow as it is a catch-up day.
As I was reading through the last 9 chapters of 1 Chronicles and getting a picture of how David was preparing for the coming temple, it struck me how organized and structured it all was. The Temple is about worship of God. God wanted the worship of Him to be very structured and organized. I believe this is teaching us something about the character of God. God likes order and structure in worship to Him. This also means God wants us to think ahead and be proactive with our lives and worship towards Him. Think about it, when we are reactive to things and simply respond most of the time, sin becomes all that much easier and we become lazy worshippers of the King. God wants worship of Him to be structured into our lives and in an orderly fashion that honors Him. God wants organization and the same important elements in worship to Him. This truth about His character of God gives us 2 practical points for our lives.
1-Our worship services and church gatherings must be done in a way of structure, organization, and order. The service must be proactive in how it leads the people of God to worship God.
2-In our lives each day we must be proactive and intentional with our worship of God. Worship for God does not come naturally for 100% of the people. People would rather worship another god instead of the True Living God. We must arrange our lives each day in a way that leads us to the best worship of God possible. (This is an important Biblical truth I will look at in the months ahead).
Reading through the story of David again this week has been a blessing and also a challenge. It has been a challenge because I just read this like a month ago and now I am reading it again. This means I tend to read it faster and skim over parts that I already now. This makes the reading less beneficial and transformational for me. But the blessing of reading the same story again from a different point of view also allows different aspects to be noticed. In the reading today I noticed something different from when I read it in 2 Samuel. In the reading today I noticed something new that I had never noticed before. When God talks He uses personal pronouns; I, my, and mine. When David talks to God, he uses different pronouns; you, yours, and our. This tells me that everything including the life and kingdom of David, is God’s. While David also knows that he has no control and God is in complete control of everything.
Listen to yourself next time you talk, are you using personal pronouns or are you using the language od David?
Today was another long read in the Bible reading plan. There are so many nuggets to mine in the reading I am not sure where to begin. The Bible reading devotional plan points out the partial obedience of David when he is bringing the Ark to Jerusalem and the resulting death of a man because David only obeys part of the way. As I have said numerous times during the teaching time, obedience is all or nothing. This is one example of it in action. Obedience must be 100% or else we are sinning. I know that is hard to swallow but it is Biblical truth and something we need to hear daily.
Another nugget I found very important in the reading today was in the reading of David’s mighty men. In chapters 10 and 11 we see the list of David’s mighty warriors. In the middle of the list we see the name Uriah the Hittite. This name should jump out at us every time we read it, because it does for me. Do you remember where else we see Uriah at? Uriah is the husband of Bathsheba, whom David gets killed because of his sin. Uriah was a good, valiant, courageous, God honoring man. And Uriah pays a price for the sin of David. Reading the name Uriah always makes me think of who my sin effects. See when we sin, it is never in private alone with no consequences. Someone other than us always pays the price for our sin. For me, people that pay the price for my sin are usually; my wife, my kids, my extended family, my close friends, my other friends, my neighbors, my church family, even people I do not even know. Sin is this impactful. David sinned and Uriah died. Uriah is a good man yet he dies.
Who is dying because of your sin?
Who is dying because of your partial obedience?