Archive | June 2014

Memorable Verses from Jehoshophat

I almost skipped II Chronicles in my reading through the Bible this year. After all, Chronicles is a re-run of Kings and I Chronicles had so many genealogies. But I read I Chronicles so I wouldn’t miss the prayer of Jabez and the introduction to II Chronicles explained how it was focused on Judah and God’s mercy to those who repent and return to Him. Less depressing reading!

When I got to Jehoshophat, I noticed I was writing down several verses to memorize. (These are all from the Names of God Bible-God’s Word Translation – the version I’m reading this time through.)

“He had the confidence to live the way God wanted Him to live” (17:6) Lord, fill me with the confidence to live the way You want me to live.

“But when Jehoshophat cried out, God helped Him” (18:31) How comforting to know that even when I’ve gotten myself into a jam because of foolish choices, I can cry out and God will help me.

“Pay attention to what you’re doing. When you judge, you aren’t doing in for a human, but for God. He will be with you when you hear a case.” (19:6) Lord, remind me to pay attention to what I’m doing whether it’s work or household chores or enjoying Your creation. I’m not doing it for my boss, or my family or myself, but for You. Teach me to acknowledge Your presence with me every moment of every day.

“Do this wholeheartedly – with the fear (awe and reverence) of God and with faithfulness.” (19:9) Lord, make me a whole-hearted woman. No more half-hearted anything. Fill me with awe and reverence for who You are and what You’re doing. Make me as faithful to You and Your work for me as You are to me.

“Be strong and do your job. May God be with those who do right.” (19:11)

When attacked unjustly: “You (God) possess power and might, and no one can oppose You.” (20:6)

“We will cry out to You in our troubles, and You will hear us and save us.” (20:9)

“You’re our Elohim. Won’t You judge them? We don’t have the strength to face this large crowd that is attacking us. We don’t know what to do, so we’re looking to You.” (20:2)

“This is what Yahweh says to you: ‘Don’t be frightened or terrified by this large crowd. The battle isn’t yours. It’s Elohim’s.’” (20:15) (Feel free to substitute your own issue for the word crowd.)

“You won’t fight this battle. Take your position, stand still, and see the victory of Yahweh for you. Don’t be frightened or terrified. Tomorrow go out to face them. Yahweh is with you.” (20:17) What a relief!

“Trust Yahweh your Elohim and believe. Believe His word and you will succeed.” (20:20) Lord, help my unbelief!

Note what’s next: “He (Jehoshophat) appointed people to sing to Yahweh and praise Him for the beauty of His holiness…they sang ‘Thank Yahweh because His mercy endures forever!’ As they started to sing praises, Yahweh set ambushes…they were defeated.” (20:21-22) Lord, put Your songs onto my heart! Surround me with Your peace (20:30)

Set your heart on God! (20:33)

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Lessons from Asa (II Chronicles 16: 1-12)

King Asa of Judah started out so well, doing what God “considered good and right” (II Chronicles 14:2). He got rid of the idols, told the people to follow God and dedicated his life to serving God. When the Sudanese attacked and he was outnumbered two to one, he called on God, depending on Him, and God fought for him.

But when King Baasha of Israel attacked Judah, Asa sent his treasurer to the King of Aram instead of sending his staff to pray. He depended on an earthly king instead of the King of the Universe. Thirty years of peace seemed to have dulled the memory of how God helped him defeat the Sudanese.

The prophet Hanani went to Asa and pointed out his error. God intended Aram to be Asa’s conquest, not his ally. Hanani told Asa flat out that he acted foolishly and would have to fight wars from now on. Instead of repenting, Asa gets angry, imprisons Hanani and oppresses some of the people.

Asa doesn’t learn from his mistake. He contracts a foot disease and instead of asking God for help, seeks only human help, leaving God out of his healing process. Two years later, he’s dead.

We must regularly remember the things God has done for us so that when trouble comes, He’s our first line of defense, not our last resort. God must be the first one we turn to, not the last.

When someone points out to us that we’ve done something wrong, we should be humble enough to admit our mistakes and learn from them, We shouldn’t get angry at the messenger or at God and we shouldn’t kick the dog in frustration. We should definitely make sure we don’t repeat our mistakes.

We must remember that “God’s eyes scan the whole world to find those whose hearts are committed to Him and strengthen them” (II Chronicles 16:9). God sees us. We must commit our whole hearts to Him and rely on His strength, not our own or any else’s.

Come, Let Us Reason with God

“Come now, and let us reason together”, says the Lord. “Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.”  Isaiah 1:18 (NASB)

Amazing!  The God of the universe wants to reason together with us.  He doesn’t just issue commands and demand obedience.  He’s not oblivious to us up in heaven.  He wants to discuss something with us, have a dialogue, a two-way conversation.  This is proof that God listens to us – our prayers, our side (or snide) remarks, and our running commentary on life.  It’s also proof that we don’t listen to God, for few people talk about their conversations with God the way they relate their conversations with other people.

What’s even more amazing is the topic of the conversation.  The heading for this section in the God’s Word Translation is “The Lord Invites Israel to Turn Away from Sin”.  Okay, so it’s not so amazing that a holy God wants to talk to us about sin.  Rather, what’s amazing is the way He wants to talk about it.  God’s not condemning, speaking harshly, or yelling at us the way some parents yell at their children.  The holy God of the universe calmly and lovingly invites us to reason together about our sin and turn away from it.

Ever remember being in trouble at home and having absolutely no clue why?  “What on earth have I done now?”  Israel knew the Ten Commandments and so do we, but nevertheless, God clearly describes what the problem is – how they are not applying the Ten Commandments in everyday life.  “Your hands are full of blood.  Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from My sight.  Cease to do evil.  Learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless; defend the orphans, plead for the widow.”  (Isaiah 1:15b-17)  The problem was the shed blood, the evil deeds, injustice, allowing ruthless people to thrive unchecked, orphans and widows in desperate straits.

Ever remember being in trouble at home, finding out what the problem was, but not having a clue as to why it was an issue?  “Why is this such a big deal?”  God didn’t leave Israel clueless, and He explains to them and us.  God has done so much for us, rearing us and bringing us up as beloved children (v2).  Sin weighs us down (v4) and prevents us from enjoying God’s presence (v 15) and the abundant life He has planned for us (John 10:10).  God is Holy, sin is not, and sin separates us from our Holy God (v4).  Sin brings unpleasant and often times harsh consequences (vv 5-9).

Ever remember being in trouble at home, finding out what the problem was and why, but not having a clue about fixing it and making it right?  “How do I make it up to them?”  What’s so neat about God is that when He tells Israel (and us), what the problem is, He’s also telling us the solution. “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from My sight.  Cease to do evil.  Learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless; defend the orphans, plead for the widow.”  (Isaiah 1:16-17).

God isn’t a God who just sets out impossible rules and regulations and leaves us on our own to struggle with trying to keep them.  God clearly explains what His expectations are, knowing full well we can’t live up to them, which is why He sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins and the Holy Spirit to help us with everyday life.  When we sin and miss the mark, God invites us to reason with Him and turn away from our sin and back to Him.  He clearly shows us what we’ve done, will show us why we’ve done it (if we’re willing to go that deep) and how to repent (turn away 180 degrees).

Are you thinking this is all theology?  How about a concrete example?

I was driving on a two lane highway that merged left into one lane.  Knowing about the merge, I’m always in the left lane and since I’m conscious of the price of gas, I don’t gun the engine when the light turns green – especially since it’s uphill.  As a result, people are always passing me on the right.  That morning, two cars had already passed me and I was fine with that.  But when I saw the third car get ready to do the same, I had had enough and gunned it so he couldn’t.

God didn’t scold – He simply asked me why I do that.  Why do I have such a hard time letting people pass me?  It’s a long list.  It starts in grammar school where I was made fun of and was always the last one chosen for the school yard games.  It continues in high school and college when no one asked me out on a date.  Then there was marriage, where we were always behind the Jones’.  The divorce tripled the list at least.  I am tired of all the injustices in my life and I want to be on top somewhere, somehow, even if it’s only on the highway. 

My attitude is not right and if I don’t do something about it now, it will lead to sin.  It’s an attitude that will cause pain and hurt to me and to others if allowed to continue.  I need to work with God (and perhaps another person) on healing old hurts.  For now, I can fix my attitude by yielding to others on the highway, at home, in church, at work.  Yielding will turn into service and a deeper, better relationship with the Trinity.

So be daring – the next time the opportunity presents itself, sit down (or drive along) and reason with God.

 

The River of My Life (and Love)

I stood on the bank of the creek and looked back.

I saw a piece of driftwood coming – slowly and uncertain.

It passed a rose, reached out for it, and flowed toward me.

A daisy saw them and froze with fear and hurt.

For though she was plain, she wanted to be with the driftwood.

 

Suddenly the rose pushed herself away and drifted toward the bank.

The driftwood sail dejectedly near the daisy and she reached out and latched on to him.

The driftwood and the daisy travelled happily for a little way

Until some unknown force of the creek made him push the daisy away.

He drifted ashore – not wanting to return to the creek, but still longing to be with the rose – in spite of

                her painful thorns.

The daisy was caught in the middle of a whirlpool – not knowing what to do.

Her petals split and were carried away.

 

Then I turned away.

For the creek was too much like the river of my life.

The driftwood too much like my first love,

The rose like the old love that split us apart,

The daisy too much like me.

But before I had gone, my tears turned the creek into a river.

The stormy, uncertain river of my life – and love.

Don’t be a Rehoboam!

“When Rehoboam had established his kingdom and made himself strong, he and all Israel abandoned Yahweh’s teachings.” II Chronicles 12:1

Rehoboam – his kingdom, his strength, no God.

We must remember always that everything we are and have us given to us by God. We must remember that we can’t do anything apart from God’s strength. As long as we are acknowledging God and depending on Him, we will not abandon Him. He has promised to never, never, never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5 complete with the triple negative in the original Greek text). He will never abandon us, therefore if we’re ever in a situation where we find ourselves apart from God, either we’re listening to and believing a lie, or we have abandoned Him.