The importance of Godly Judges!

Scripture reading for April 28: 2nd Chronicles 17-20

A dangerous trend in our own land is the appointment of judges who do not just render decisions based on the law, but try to legislate from the bench.  They feel that they can help tailor the laws of the land to meet the needs of more people rather than just interpreting the laws according to their original intent.   Every government needs a moral base of what is right and what is wrong.  God’s law has proven to be the best definition of right and wrong that was ever written down!

In today’s reading, King Jehoshaphat had narrowly escaped death when he unwisely allied himself with King Ahab of Israel.  When he cried out to the Lord, God spared his life.  King Jehoshaphat decided to bring more reform to the people he served.  He appointed judges in each of the fortified cities and gave them strict instructions about how to serve the Lord and His people.  He told them that each decision should be rendered as from the Lord and that the fear of the Lord should be upon them. (2nd Chronicles 19:5-7)  There should be no injustice, partiality, or bribery, for God is righteous!

In Jerusalem Jehoshaphat appointed some of the Levites to administer the Law of the Lord.  He gave them strict orders to uphold the Law of the Lord and to warn the people not to sin against the Lord or his wrath would come upon them.  (2nd Chronicles 19:9-10)  They were to act with courage and if they did well, God would be with them and reward them.

God Himself places all authority.  (Psalm 75:6-7)   God is pleased when that authority rules and enforces His laws.  When the authority violates His laws, consequences follow that bring God’s wrath and judgment.  Our nation is in peril today because of violating God’s laws.  Unrighteous judges have reinterpreted the laws of our land to remove God and His law from the land.  Every time a judge rules, he is ruling for God.  God does not want to be misrepresented!  We as a nation need to take warning from God’s Word about judges and law.  We are in danger of God’s wrath and are already experiencing it.

Take time today to pray for those in authority.  Pray that they will appoint judges who will impartially interpret the laws.  Pray that there will be no bribery, injustice, or partiality.  After you pray, think about ways God gives you to make a difference.  Vote for godly leaders.  Call elected officials and make  your godly beliefs known.  Teach your children God’s Word and law so that they know what He expects!  Discuss with them where our nation violates God’s law so that they can be informed with a Christian world view.  If we don’t pray and take action, we will be overwhelmed with ungodly laws, unrighteous judges, and God’s wrath!

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Be strong! Do not Give Up!

Scripture reading for April 25:  2nd Chronicles 13-16

“Listen to me, Asa and all of Judah and Benjamin.  The Lord is with you when you are with Him.  If you seek Him, He will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.” 2nd Chronicles 15:2

“But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.” 2nd Chronicles 15:7

God is good at warning and encouraging!  King Asa started out right and did right in the eyes of the Lord.  He proceeded to remove idols from the land and commanded God’s people to seek the Lord and obey His laws.  He rebuilt the fortified cities and the land enjoyed peace under his godly rule.  When an attack came from Zerah the Cushite, Asa called out to the Lord for help and God answered him. (2nd Chronicles 14:11)  King Asa had a great victory and was walking close to the Lord.

God saw something inside of this king that He addressed.  He encouraged Asa by the prophetic ministry of Azariah, son of Oded.  He encouraged this victorious king to keep on seeking the Lord.  He reminded him to stay with the Lord.  He warned him and his followers that if they forsook the Lord, they would find themselves out there on their own and in trouble.  He ended the prophetic message with encouragement. He told King Asa to be strong and not give up.  God would reward him for his work.   Prophesy is always to build up, not to tear down.  (1st Corinthians 14:3)

The prophetic word does build us up, but we must stay humble and teachable.  Asa was humble and teachable at the time of this earlier word, but later Asa went on his own to Damascus and enlisted the Syrian King Ben-Hadad with monies from the Temple treasuries.  Again the Lord sent a prophet to warn and correct Asa.  Hanani came to him and told him he had done a foolish thing and would now be at war.  Asa became angry with the seer and imprisoned him.  He mistreated some of the Lord’s people as well.  He got a disease in his feet, but refused to seek the Lord and only went to doctors.  As a result, he died.  He had started out right, but failed to heed the word of the Lord!

Thank God today for the prophetic word that seeks to warn and encourage us.  Ask the Lord to teach you what you need to know and how to stay humble and able to obey.  If you have a hard heart, open up to His amazing love and let this word encourage you.  Be strong, do not give up, for your work will be rewarded! 2nd Chronicles 15:7

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Pastor’s Walk Podcast: Leviticus Summary Part 3

In this podcast Pastor John concludes his summary of the book of Leviticus.

Sunday rest and reflection: seeking God.

Greetings! Today is another day of rest and reflection and a time to catch up if you have fallen behind.   There is to be no condemnation if you fall behind!  Sometimes things do happen and we have things that keep us from doing what we ought to do.  The “tyranny of the urgent” often intrudes in our schedules.  Sometimes it is the “drooping eyelids” of the weary that also slips up on us.  God is understanding and gracious.  We need not feel condemnation!

From the past week of reading, I want to reflect on the idea of  seeking the Lord.  Solomon built a temple for the Lord as a place where God’s people could come and seek the Lord.  At the dedication of the temple, Solomon’s prayer petitioned God to let His eyes be on the temple and asked that God’s ears would be attentive to the prayers of His people.  (2nd Chronicles 6:20-21)  God answered Solomon by appearing to him and answering his petitions.  God promised that His Name would always be there and that His eyes and heart would also be there.  (2nd Chronicles 7:15)  God also warned Solomon not to forsake seeking Him and turn away to other gods.  The consequences would not be good!

What factors are involved in seeking the Lord?  I believe that the first thing needed is faith.  Anyone who comes to God, must believe that He is.  Since God is Spirit, we can not see Him with our physical eyes.  So if we are seeking to contact God, we must approach Him as if He is really there and can hear and see us.  Solomon’s approach was this  kind of approach.  How did Solomon know that God was there?  God actually appeared to him after he had prayed and petitioned God.  As we approach God in faith, He reveals Himself to us.

We must also believe that God wants to reward us for seeking Him.  (Hebrews 11:6)  It wouldn’t do much good to seek out God if we did not feel that He would actually hear and understand what we needed.  Our God not only understands us, but has compassion on us and loves us.  He desires our highest good and wants to bless us.  We understand these truths by faith through believing God’s Word.  We must choose to believe because we hear the Word.  The Word of God has spiritual life and power in it to bring faith to the hearts of those who hear and believe, not just listen.

As the living stones of the new Temple of the Lord, we have direct access to the Lord at any time.  We have fellowship with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  We can walk in the Spirit daily.  We can pray without ceasing.  We do not need to go to a designated place to seek the Lord.  God’s heart and eyes dwell within us and are always watching to show us support and answer prayer!  What a great God we’ve found!

It was said of Rehoboam that he did evil in the sight of the Lord because he failed to seek the Lord.  (2nd Chronicles 12:14)

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Shishak–A ‘wake-up’ call from God!

Scripture reading for April 25: 2nd Chronicles 10-12

Have you ever slept through an important event or meeting that you were supposed to attend?  Have you shut the alarm off or hit the “snooze” button and then failed to make it to work or an important gathering?  King Rehoboam got an unusual “wake-up” call from a prophet of God and a pagan king, Shishak of Egypt, and his 1200 chariots!  (2nd Chronicles 12:3)  Sometimes the wake-up call is death staring us in the face!

The problem with Rehoboam was his failure to keep regular appointments with God and obedience to God’s law after he was established and became strong.  (2nd Chronicles 12:1-2)  Rehoboam followed his father Solomon to the throne.  But he failed to listen to wise advise and evidently failed to seek the Lord and obey His law.  Instead he sought the advice of his own peers and sought his own way and welfare over the welfare of the people God had entrusted to him.  We may get by doing this for a while, but soon our sins find us out.

When we disobey and dishonor the Lord, we open the door to Satan’s attack.  Rehoboam found himself under attack by Shishak, King of Egypt.  Shishak had 1200 chariots and many hired warriors.  God sent a prophet named Shemaiah to warn Rehoboam and the leaders of Judah and to help them see their errors.  Upon hearing the Word of the Lord, the king and the leaders humbled themselves and God relented of destroying them.  He did allow Shishak to carry off the treasures of the Temple and the royal palace.  (2nd Chronicles 12:6-9) The king and the people became subjects of Egypt.

Rehoboam heard the wake-up call and responded temporarily.  He was spared destruction but did not truly repent.  He continued to do evil in God’s eyes and failed to set his heart on seeking the Lord in everything.  (2nd Chronicles 12:14)

This is a sad story that is repeated often in our time as well.  Many have divided loyalties and God sends his “wake-up” calls.  Sometimes we humble ourselves and repent but often we go right back to doing the same old things that cause us to not seek the Lord fully.  If you have trouble in this area today, ask the Lord to fill you with the Holy Spirit.  Take this message as your “wake-up” call and respond with all your heart!  You wouldn’t want to miss the most important appointment in all eternity!

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The half has not been told!

Scripture reading for April 24: 2nd Chronicles 6-9

Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived other than Jesus Christ.  Solomon got his wisdom by asking for it! (James 1:5)  God appeared to him early in his rule and asked him what he needed.  Solomon asked for wisdom to rule God’s people and knowledge.  (2nd Chronicles 1:7-10) God granted him his request and  gave him fame and fortune as well.  Solomon became well-known for his wisdom and for the wealth that God had lavished on him.

The Queen of Sheba was a foreign dignitary of Solomon’s time who had heard reports of Solomon’s wisdom and wealth.  She wanted to come and see for herself and when she arrived and took it all in, her recorded remark was “not even half the greatness of your wisdom was told me”.  (2nd Chronicles 9:6)  This pagan Queen also made another remark that is amazing.  She praised Solomon’s God for delighting in Solomon and placing him on the throne.  She noted that the Lord loved his people and appointed Solomon as king to uphold them and rule them for God!  She had great understanding herself as she stood in Solomon’s presence.  It appears that this wisdom rubs off!

The Queen of Sheba also lavished gifts of gold and spices on Solomon.  She gave him over 25 tons of gold by our measure!  A king who is full of wisdom deserves great honor and recognition!

Well, how does this story from 3000 years ago affect us today?  Solomon had a distant grandson, Jesus Christ, who was also filled with wisdom from God.  Luke records that he grew in wisdom and stature and favor with God and man. (Luke 2:51)  Paul records that in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.  (Colossians 2:2-3)  This same Jesus has been made unto us wisdom from God.  (1st Corinthians 1:30)  If we need wisdom, we can simply ask God and He will give us liberally!  (James 1:5)  We have record of Jesus’ unequaled wisdom, yet the half has not been told!  When we see Him we will know fully what we only know in part now!

Not only that, but as Solomon’s fame spread far and wide, so Jesus Christ’s fame is spreading to all the nations!  As the Queen of Sheba gave lavish gifts to Solomon, so we are to honor Jesus Christ and give our tithes and lives to Him who is worthy!  We are to tell of the riches of His glorious Kingdom and publish his fame and wisdom for all who will listen!  We bring him the precious “gold” of our faith and the “spices” of prayer and worship.  All nations will worship Him of whom “the half has not been told”!

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God is Good! His Love endures forever!

Scripture reading for April 23rd: 2nd Chronicles 1-5

Two great truths about God are voiced in this simple song that was sung when the priests and Solomon moved the Ark of the Covenant into the completed temple of the Lord.  These truths are so simple and obvious that one would think everyone should know them and had experienced them but Satan is a liar!  He is always questioning God’s goodness and His enduring love!

The first truth is that God is good!  God is good in all his ways and character.  His goodness and mercy follow us all the days of our lives.  (Psalm 23:6)  He is good in his creation through which He has provided for all creatures food and drink to sustain them.  Everything we eat ultimately comes from His hands.  He is good to both the evil and the good.  He shows mercy by his goodness in sending rain and bringing forth crops and food for all, no matter how they might treat Him!  God is good in His character as well.  He is pure and holy and righteous in every way. (Revelation 15:3-4)   His perfection and holiness causes the hosts of heaven to adore Him, crying: “Holy, Holy, Holy!”  ( Revelation 4:8)  Ultimately all nations will come and worship Him for his goodness, justice and truth!

The second truth declared by those who moved the Ark into the Temple was that God’s love endures forever.  God is love.  (1st John 4:16)  His nature is good because He is love that is eternal.  God is from everlasting to everlasting!  (Psalm 90:2)  He pours out His love on those He has made in His image and likeness!  “God so loved the world” (John 3:16) is one of the most quoted verses of the Bible.  God’s love moved Him to send His only Son, Jesus Christ, to the earth to seek out lost men and save them. (Luke 19:10)  His love heals the sick, cleanses the defiled, and restores broken lives to trophies of love!

Today, try singing this simple song as you go through your day.  Look for all the ways that God is good to you and thank Him as you are reminded of His goodness!  Tell Him that you love Him today and appreciate his eternal love!  As you do, remember that you now bear His presence and glory as a living stone in his temple!  You join Solomon and the hosts of heaven as they worship eternally!

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God loves willing givers!

Scripture reading for April 22: 1st Chronicles 28-29

“Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion,  for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things, at all times, having all you that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2nd Corinthians 9:7-8

Preachers are sometimes pushy or manipulative in asking the people to give.  There are so many needs and money is often a limiting factor in the work of the church, at least in our minds.    The love of money keeps many from giving and holds back God’s blessing in the people as well.  This area is a touchy area for many because of the various abuses and the strongholds of idolatry to money and materialism in this land.

I love the 29th chapter of 1st Chronicles.  In this chapter, King David sets forth what he is personally giving to fund the vision he has been given of building the temple of the Lord.  He sets the example of personal dedication by first giving sacrificially himself.  A good leader will always lead the way for those he is calling to help.  David gives of his personal treasure 188 tons of gold, 375 tons of silver, 675 tons of bronze and 3,750 tons of iron.  This would be vast fortune by today’s values!  From this position of personal dedication, he challenges his other leaders to willingly give as well.

The leaders catch the spirit of generosity that King David had modeled.  They also contribute “willingly and wholeheartedly” to the Lord.  (1st Chronicles 29:6-9)  David rejoices with a psalm of praise to the Lord!  In this psalm he praises God for His greatness and power.  He attributes everything that he has to God’s grace! (1st Chronicles 29:11-12)  We can boast about nothing!  All things come from God’s hand to us!  He alone is to be praised!

David prays for the people: “And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you.  O, Lord, God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, keep this desire in the hearts of your people forever and keep their hearts loyal to you.” (1st Chronicles 29:17-18)  That is my prayer for each of us today!  May you have a willing heart to give!  If you are a leader, may you set an example of extravagant giving.  May your heart remain loyal to the Lord and open to be generous forever!  God does love a cheerful giver!

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Transition of Leadership

Scripture reading for April 21: 1st Chronicles 22-27

As I have attended and worked in different church families, one of the things that is often done poorly is the transition of leadership.  Often the pastor resigns or sometimes is forced to leave because of some problem.  No preparation or thinking has been done by the deacons or core leadership of the church and a crisis is at hand.  People have different ideas and pastors are invited to come share their ministry and it becomes a popularity contest.  It sometimes divides the church and there is great turmoil.  Many people forget that God is a God of order and He has a plan of succession and a plan for success!  We see such a plan in action in today’s reading!

David was old and “full of years”. (1st Chronicles 23:1)  He made Solomon king over Israel.    David’s son Adonijah had tried to make himself king and Bathsheba and Nathan worked together to redirect the situation according to the will of the Lord.  (1st Kings 1:1-5)   There was a power struggle here as well.  People often want to be in charge and often seek to take power or to control the one who is in power.  It is one of the strategies of Satan to bring division and confusion in a family, church, or nation.  After installing Solomon, David wisely tried to help his son succeed in the tasks that he knew were important.  One of these was the building of the temple for the Lord.

First David encouraged Solomon that it was God’s will that he build the Lord’s house.  David had heard from the Lord!  He knew the will of God and passed this on to Solomon.  He was positive and encouraging and prayed for God’s wisdom and discretion that his son might keep the Law of God and have success!  A father’s blessing and God’s blessing go a long way toward success! (1st Chronicles 22:11-13)

Next, David assembled materials for the Temple.  He generously provided from his own treasury for God’s house!  He set a good example for his son and the nation of generosity and focus on what was important.  When God’s house was cared for, God would bless and the people would be focused on what should be central. (1st Chronicles 22:14-16)

The last thing David did was to gather the key leaders of Israel together and encourage them to support Solomon.  David cited the Lord’s victories and how God had given the people rest.  He encouraged the leaders to seek the Lord with all their heart and soul and to begin building.  This transition would continue the vision of the Lord through David and insure the accomplishment of God’s will and purposes.  (1st Chronicles 22:17-19)

I believe God wants thoughtful and peaceful transition of leadership.  Pray for your family, church family and nation for the leaders and those in authority that they would be thoughtful and purposeful in this area.  God’s purposes are eternal!  We should keep them in focus!

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The wiles of the Devil

Scripture reading for April 20: 1st Chronicles 17-21

We have an enemy who is known to be crafty and who uses schemes and strategy to gain access to God’s people.  His motive is to steal from them, kill them, and ultimately destroy their souls in Hell.  (John 10:10)   Satan is said to be like a roaring lion prowling around looking for someone to devour. (1st Peter 5:8-9)  Several passages of scripture admonish God’s people to flee temptation and resist the devil.  (Matthew 6:13)  We are in a cosmic battle with evil forces of darkness and are in need of God’s help.

David was a man after God’s heart but he was also prone to temptation and did not always resist.  We all remember the time he stayed back in Jerusalem when his army went to war.  (1st Chronicles 20:1)  It is interesting to note that the incident with Bathsheba is not mentioned in this account.  But another incident is mentioned that I had not noticed before.  David came and took the crown off the head of the king of the Ammonites who Joab and the army had defeated.  This crown weighed around 75 pounds and was full of precious stones.  David placed that crown on his own head.  (1st Chronicles 20:2)

Right after this, David returned again to Jerusalem and Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census!  (1st Chronicles 21:1)  This was evil in God’s sight because it was motivated by pride and not by God’s direction.  (1st Chronicles 21:7)  It appears that  Satan gained an inroad in David’s life.  We know David was not fighting the Lord’s enemies but stayed home to engage in sexual sin.  He had Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, killed. He took this massive crown belonging to a pagan king and placed it on his own head.  After this Satan was able to incite him to sin that cost the lives of 70,000 Israelites!  Sin always leads to death and Satan’s desire is fulfilled!

However, out of this sin, David did repent.  He ended up buying the threshing floor of Arunah as a place of sacrifice to the Lord to stop the plague.  This site became the site of the temple!  Pride brings destruction, but humility brings repentance and forgiveness.  The temple is where God’s presence dwelled and where anyone who had sinned could bring a sacrifice with humility and find forgiveness and restoration!  David’s latter Son, Jesus Christ, would offer Himself in this temple to be the final sacrifice for the sins of the world!  What grace from a loving God!  What a victory over our enemy, Satan, and his schemes of death!  Praise the Lord!

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