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Showing posts from June, 2012

A Good Attitude

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Classic ingratitude.

The king of Israel is being stalked by his enemy, the king of Aram. Elisha, who seems to be gifted with the ability to hear through walls at long distances, continually warns him of the ambushes and attacks being planned so that he can avoid getting killed (2 Kings 6:8-12).

"Royally" annoyed, the king of Aram plots to kill Elisha, but that too is foiled in that famous episode in Dothan. Elisha's servant discovers what the prophet knew all along: "Those who are with us are more than those who are with them" (6:16, NIV). The angelic hosts surround God's servants.

But then things change. Aram attacks Israel and besieges the city of Samaria. Things are very grim—no exaggeration considering it appears that people resorted to cannibalism during the siege (6:26-29). The king of Israel is angry at Elisha and now wants to kill him (6:31).

The end of the story sees God doing a miracle to save the city. We wonder why He waited so long and can only s…

Virginia, There is a God

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"Is it because there is no God in Israel for you to consult that you…" (2 Kings 1:16, NIV).

Ahab is dead and Ahaziah is king. He had suffered a bad fall and, concerned about his health, sends messengers to ask Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron, if he is going to recover.

We don't have to use much imagination to know something about this god that Ahaziah chose to consult. Baal-Zebub is "a Semitic deity that was worshiped in the Philistine city of Ekron. In later Christian and Biblical sources, he is referred to as another name for Satan, and in demonology, is one of the seven princes of Hell."

Before the messengers get to their destination they are met by God's prophet, Elijah, who asks the critical question. Elijah also delivers the answer to Ahaziah's question. The king's death is imminent.

I got stuck on Elijah's question because, with all the resources we have at hand today, it is easy to consult other "gods" before we consult the Lord.

I re…

Doing the Ferengi

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On one of the many spin-offs of the original Star Trek series, there appears a race, the Ferengi, that gets extreme pleasure out of having its ears rubbed. I wonder if they ever read Paul's letter to Timothy? Paul warns his son in the faith, "…the time will come when men 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" (I Timothy 4:3, NIV).

Back in the days of King Ahab, human nature wasn't any different. I Kings 22 records for us the last major incident in Ahab's life. He had made a pact with Judah's King Jehosaphat, to fight against Aram.

Before going to battle, Jehosaphat insisted that they consult a man of God to find out what the Lord had to say about all this. Ahab had plenty of "prophets" around him who told him exactly what he wanted to hear—they rubbed his ears—but the King of Judah was not deceived. So they called i…

An Encounter With God

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I sat on my balcony watching the rain the other night. The clouds marched along to the north and west. From my vantage point it was dry and sunny but somewhere, someone was getting wet. I am in awe at the God Who controls the winds, the clouds and the rain. Like Job, I shut my mouth (Job 40:3-5), my complaints that God wasn't paying attention sounding ridiculous in the presence of the One who formed the world and sustains it to this day.

It's me who doesn't pay attention. The universe constantly proclaims the presence of a God who IS in control, Who is paying attention to every detail—even the petty ones of my life. Job's response to an encounter with God was to repent (42:6), just as Isaiah repented when he saw God in the vision recorded for us in Isaiah 6.

When we have a "close encounter" with God, there is no other response but repentance, worship and total abandonment to the will and purpose of the Almighty. After seeing God, Isaiah cried, "Here am …

"Baal-out"

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"How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him, but if Baal is God, follow him" (1 Kings 18:21, NIV).

The silence was deafening (vs. 21).

If we were to ask the same question today, substituting for "Baal" whatever gods we cling to in our vain attempts to keep one foot in the world and follow God with the other, the silence would also be deafening.

Syncretism is defined as the attempt to merge religions, cultures, thoughts. And we are a syncretistic society. Like a moth tries to get as close to the flame as it can without being burned, we try very hard to assimilate as many of the world's values while claiming to love God. This attitude is nothing new—Elijah accused Israel of the same and challenged them to make up their minds one way or the other.

The Apostle John would have likened Israel and the modern church to the church of Laodicea: "I know your deeds, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish you were either one or the oth…

Trusting in the Promises

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I love this story—at least theoretically.

Elijah's been in hiding. The land is suffering from drought and Ahab is after the prophet's hide because of it. At God's direction, Elijah heads to Zarephath to encounter a widow whom God will use to feed God's messenger.

She's not a wealthy woman. In fact, when the prophet arrives she is about to use the last of her resources to make a final meal for herself and her son. It's not that Elijah asks her to share what she will make; he asks her to make his meal first and THEN make hers (1Kings 17:13). Sounds like a scam to me!

Elijah says: "For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: 'The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord gives rain on the land" (17:14, NIV).

The natural reaction (mine, at least) would be to say: "Give me a sign of good faith first and then I'll make your meal." Faith doesn't work that way. We obey first, and th…

Am I "Normal"?

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Henry and Richard Blackaby, in their book Fresh Encounter, describe the characteristics of a normal Christian life this way:

1. Intimate fellowship with God
2. Joy in God's presence
3. A sense of peace
4. A holy life
5. A Spirit-filled life
6. Recognizing God's voice
7. Filled with the fruit of the Spirit
8. Experiencing God's power

This is only page three and I'm already convicted!

Last night I was taking a couple of candidates through the church membership class and caught myself saying, "But we're only human" as though that excuses us from reaching for the goal for which Christ had destined us as believers. There are numerous passages that remind us that being "only human" doesn't cut it but this one from Ephesians 4:23, 24 (NIV) is particularly pointed: "You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; a…

The Sins of the Fathers

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"As for you, go back home. When you set foot in your city, the boy will die. All Israel will mourn for him and bury him. He is the only one belonging to Jeroboam who will be buried, because he is the only one in the house of Jeroboam in whom the Lord, the God of Israel, has found anything good" (1 Kings 14:12, 13, NIV).

This is one of the saddest verses of the Old Testament. God rescues a child because his father, and his father's house, are so evil that God will not allow the child to be contaminated further.

But the southern kingdom of Judah was no better. Solomon, touted to be the wisest man in the world, contributed to the ruin of his own family. He married pagan women and then indulged them by encouraging and participating in the worship of their gods. It only took a generation for his son, Rehoboam, and the people of Judah to abandon their God (1 Kings 14:22-24).

The beautiful temple that Solomon had built and filled with priceless treasures for the worship of the L…

Letting God Be God

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"Go home, every one of you, for this is my doing" (1 Kings 12:14, NIV).

The threat exists—they are bigger and stronger. How long will it be before they turn their eyes southward and scoop up the two remaining tribes outside of their control? Now, while the northern tribes are still basking in the euphoria of crowning Jeroboam as their king, is the time to strike.

But God sent Rehoboam and the tribes of Judah and Benjamin back to their homes. And though Rehoboam was no saint, he did as he was told.

There would come many battles between Israel and Judah. But this would not be one of them.

One of the phrases that sticks in my head comes from a series of studies we just completed. We have to make a conscious choice to BE God, or to let God be God, to muddle up God's plan by playing God, or to believe that God has our backs covered and let Him take care of business.

There is so little we have control over in life—though we work really hard to maintain the fiction that we have e…

The New "Morning and Evening"

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To wrap oneself in His love at the beginning of the day and then to rejoice in His faithfulness at the end of the day seems like a great plan to me.

Elephant in the Room

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The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7, NIV).

At the Lord’s command, Samuel has gone to Bethlehem to choose a new king. He’s impressed by all of Jesse’s sons, but God has a different plan and the youngest, David, is brought to the prophet’s attention. David’s heart is turned to the Lord which makes him the right choice to govern God’s people.

As I read the story my thoughts immediately turned to something David would write years later after that heart had turned from God. In his psalm of repentance David writes: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit with me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me” (Psalm 51:10-12, NIV).

Often people ask how it is possible for us to be removed from God’s presence when we have promises from the Scripture that indicate tha…