Sunday, November 24, 2013

Boy King

Boy King
November 25, 2013

Proverbs 22:6  "Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it."

The apple does not fall far from the tree.  This saying can be true in more ways than one, suggesting a child is JUST like his or her parent.  If a mom or dad displays specific behavior, it is understood that a child will probably display that same behavior.  This can be a great thing when the behavior is positive.  But what about when the behavior is a detriment to society?  Hopefully the child will not always follow in his father's footsteps.

There were several kings in the Bible who got it wrong during their reigns.  Sadly, Scripture describes too many kings who did "evil in the eyes of the Lord."  One such king was Amon.  The Lord could not tolerate Amon's behavior, so He allowed Amon to be killed.  Following the death of Amon, his son, Josiah, was appointed the next king, as was the tradition.  But Josiah was at a disadvantage; he was only eight years old.  An eight year old is not able to lead, despite how smart or gifted he may have been.  But somehow, Josiah got it right.  He was not the bad apple that described his dad; Josiah did what was right in the Lord's eyes.

But Josiah could not have done right in the Lord's eyes unless someone taught him correctly.  The Bible names Josiah's mother, though it never describes her.  I would suggest she was a godly woman.  And Josiah could not have led the nation as a child without male advisers; it would not have happened.  I would suggest those advisers were godly men as well.  Josiah was a godly man, but thankfully he was surrounded by godly leadership when he was still becoming that man.  His mother and advisers guided him in his leadership role and when Josiah was man enough, he continued that godly tradition.

We can learn many valuable lessons of wisdom from the few simple lines that detail Josiah's life.  Your job is to surround yourself with solid Christian leadership and advisers; this is not limited to boy kings.  It is valuable to have sage advice pouring into your life.  Your job is to be a godly person helping to raise up others around  you.  Just as others pour into your life, so you should pour into others.  Your job is to be godly in the position of your assigned leadership.  Maybe you didn't have righteous parents to guide you.  This makes it imperative to gather mature Christians around you, to bolster your effectiveness.  You may have been taught well, but it is still up to you to perpetuate that godliness in your life.  This carries throughout your adulthood and into your elder years, regardless of when you are appointed king.

If you do evil in the eyes of the Lord, chances are it was a long time in the making.  This goes true with doing right in the eyes of the Lord; it doesn't happen overnight or by accident.  If a child is to become a king and rule well, it takes many people to help him get to that point.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  1 Kings 13:2, 2 Kings 21 & 22

Sunday, November 17, 2013


Nov 18, 2013

1 Samuel 16:1  "The Lord said to Samuel, 'How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel?'"

Having the correct understanding of our Heavenly Father is important.  It is true the Lord will never leave you or forsake you.  He will not disown you as His child.  He will always love you with an everlasting love despite your circumstances or performance.  The Lord will never abandon you or turn His back on you; it is not in His nature.  The Lord will, however, reject you if the need arises.  This seems opposite of all the previous statements, almost creating a dichotomy in the Lord's character.  Let me explain.

The Lord chooses certain individuals for specific tasks.  Adam was chosen to name the animals in the Garden, Noah was chosen to save all the animals on the Ark, Jonah was chosen to preach to Nineveh, Jesus was chosen to die on the cross, Paul was chosen to be one of the first missionaries.  This list could go on and on with individuals the Lord chose for His specific goals, to serve in exact situations, positions, and roles.  One such individual who was chosen by the Lord was the very first king of the Israelites, Saul.  The Israelites never had a king before, so the Lord allowed a specific individual to lead the nation for the very first time.  King Saul was chosen by the Lord as leader.

King Saul, however, didn't exactly get things right his entire life.  In fact, he got arrogant, precocious, and forgot how to serve the Lord wholeheartedly in his capacity as king.  So the Lord did something he doesn't do very often.  The Lord rejected Saul.  To be specific, the Lord rejected Saul for his leadership role over the Israelites.  The Lord rejected Saul as king.  The Lord still loved Saul, but was not pleased with Saul's behavior.  The Lord could not tolerate Saul any longer in his appointed position.  The Lord chose him and then the Lord rejected him when his performance was not to the standard set in place for Saul's life or his role as king.  This didn't stop the Lord from loving Saul as a child, but Saul could lead the nation no longer.  He was rejected for his service.

While you might suggest this scenario is limited to Saul, it happens more than you think.  I've seen many men and women rise in Christian leadership, only to be taken out of that position because they could no longer live up to the standards of leadership set before them.  I firmly believe the Lord removes individuals from their leadership position if they are not fulfilling their roles as He desires.  You, too, could be chosen by the Lord for something very specific, something very important.  You, too, could be rejected by the Lord for that same leadership role if your life does not live up to the standard set in place for that position.  The Lord is not willing that others should perish because of your bad behavior.  He is willing to reject for service all those who are a hindrance to the growth of His children.

I do not want your life or mine to parallel the life of Saul. I do not want the Lord to reject you or me for His specific service.  It is critical that we pray for one another and stay focused on serving the Lord wholeheartedly, not falling into the traps set for failure.  It is critical we stay humble in the position He has chosen for us.  If you are not yet in that position, guard your heart and mind now; don't let the Lord reject you for His service before you even have a chance to start.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Deut 7:5-7, 1 Samuel 15, Jer 31:2-4, Heb 13:4-6

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Pray Less

Pray Less
November 11, 2013
Matthew 6:7  "And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like the pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words."

There is an old cliche that says you have two ears and one mouth so it is suggested you should speak half as much as you listen.  It is a trite saying that has some earthly wisdom in it, as we all should truly listen to others far more than we speak at them.  I say speak AT them because true communication is actually a volley, a back and forth consisting of speaking and listening.  If we were truly listening to what others had to say, we would speak WITH them instead of AT them.  We would listen to them, process what they were actually communicating, and then respond appropriately based upon what they communicated.  You know exactly what I'm referring to, as you've had one sided conversations with someone who wasn't truly listening.  We are all guilty of this; it happens.

Since we are all guilty of speaking more than listening, it is reasonable to consider that we do this in our prayer time with the Lord, too.  If you are honest with yourself, during a ten minute prayer time with the Lord, you probably do the majority of the speaking.  This doesn't actually accomplish the purpose for which prayer was intended.  The Lord already knows what's in your heart; prayer is the opportunity to find out what's in the Lord's heart.  If you spend more time speaking at the Lord than listening, you will miss all the important things He has to say.

Scripture says that the Lord already knows what you are going to ask for in prayer.  It is a foregone conclusion before you utter a word.  He knows.  He already knows!  This is actually encouraging, because it means He heard your prayer before you said it.  This is an opportunity to be more efficient in your prayer time.  Since He already knows what is on your heart, you have the opportunity to speak less and listen more.  If your prayer time is mostly spent speaking, you have permission to pray less so you can actually hear Him.  Your life would be radically changed if you truly listened to what was on the Lord's heart.  Mostly we spend our few moments trying to unload what is heavy on our hearts but never give a moment for the Lord to do the same.

The Lord has so much to say to you; His heart is heavy with words to communicate only you aren't listening.  You are too busy babbling about your stress load, your problems with your job, the anxieties of your family, and your rising financial concerns.  News flash, He already knows about them and has answers for everything.  Only you can't hear His answers for them because you spend ten minutes venting your concerns to Him and then stop the prayer time short.  You stop praying before He even has a chance speak.  You stop before He has the opportunity to respond to your concerns.  You stop before He has even a moment to tell you what's on HIS heart.  Your failure to listen to the Lord sets your situations up for failure, the very situations you are praying about.

This week, take the time to pray, only say nothing, absolutely nothing.  Just listen.  Try it for a week and see how your situations resolve.  I promise it will revolutionize your life!

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  1 Chron 28:9, Matt 6:6-8, Acts 15:8, Heb 4:12

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Not in There

Not in There
Nov 4, 2013
2 Hesitations 6:5  "This, too, shall pass."

There are many cute sayings perpetuated by Christians though not actually found in the Bible.  It may be out of a sincere or innocent heart, but sincerely incorrect, nonetheless.  Some things perpetuated are harmless like the "apple" in the story of Adam and Eve.  The Bible calls it a "fruit" but never actually identifies it specifically as an apple.  In the birth story of Jesus the three men from the east are "Magi" but we perpetuate them as "Wise men."  Innocent and harmless, most of the time, but some things perpetuated actually create difficulty in the maturing process of a Christian.  One such cute saying, "This, too, shall pass," though intended to encourage someone during times of difficulty, is not actually helpful for his Christianity.

The phrase or concept or teaching of "this, too, shall pass," is truly not found in Scripture anywhere.  I know this because I have so wanted it to be true many times.  I have searched the Bible over and over and it is not there.  What IS found in the Bible is teaching about the Lord working through up and down cycles like changing seasons or stages in farming (plowing, planting, harvesting).  But these concepts are not guarantees for every situation.  They are not promises.  It is never promised by the Lord that, "this, too, shall pass."

The Apostle Paul knew this extremely well.  He prayed several times for the Lord to remove a "thorn in his flesh."  The Lord did not remove it and Scripture never says if the Lord EVER removed it.  The Lord never promised to remove the thorn but the Lord DID promise him something.  The Lord promised that His grace for Paul, in enduring the difficult situation, would be sufficient.  The Lord promised that His abundant grace would be enough for a Christian to endure anything.

You may not want to hear this, and I say this with great compassion and gentleness of heart, but your situation may not change.  What you are enduing that you'd like to see pass, may not pass in this lifetime.  John the Baptist understood this when he was arrested.  His jail sentence didn't end except through his beheading.  This is not meant to depress you but to re-direct your thinking.  You are to pray for the Lord's grace, not just the removal of the thorn in your flesh.  Look for His grace as you are waiting for the possible passing of the situation.  Look for His grace BEFORE you look for the end of the difficulty.  You can only endure it to the end IF you have His grace.  You must allow yourself to be covered in it.  If you sulk and complain during your difficulty, you are only attempting to remove His grace.

Your prayer should be, "Lord, clothe me in Your grace as I wait upon Your sovereignty to unfold."  If you'd like to encourage someone else who is going through troubling times, try this: "I am praying the Lord fills you with grace as you walk though this difficulty and that you will find a way to rejoice in it."  And if they cry for a while, sit on the step and cry with them, too.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Gen 3:2-6, Is 28:23-26, 2 Cor 12:6-10