True and False

“The field commander said to them, ‘Tell Hezekiah: ‘This is what the great king, the king of Assyria, says: On what are you basing this confidence of yours?  You say you have counsel and might for war – but you speak only empty words.  On whom are you depending, that you rebel against me?  Look, I know you are depending on Egypt, that splintered reed of a staff, which pierces the hand of anyone who leans on it!  Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who depend on him.  But if you say to me, ‘We are depending on the Lord our God’ – isn’t he the one whose high places and altars Hezekiah removed, saying to Judah and Jerusalem, ‘You must worship before this altar’?” Isaiah 36:4-10.

King Sennacherib of Assyria is threatening the folks in Jerusalem living under King Hezekiah.

He has a large army and is looking for those in Jerusalem to realize what they are up against and to give up.

Sennacherib gives the Israelites two reasons why that which they rely on cannot be trusted.

First, he discusses the Egyptians. They are an unreliable ally.  They have burned others who have relied on them.

Second, he discusses God.  Sennacherib’s angle is that since they are new to trusting God, how can they be sure that God will take care of them?  (Note that when Hezekiah became king, he destroyed all the places where they used to worship and moved the worship center to one place, Jerusalem.)

My ultimate trust must be in God.  All other things are potentially like the Egypt mentioned in these verses.  They are terminal.  They aren’t forever.  They can wax and wane.

As far as being removed from where I usually worship goes, I have access to God wherever I’m located.  I must not burden myself down with location semantics.  I am never separated from the God I love.

My wife and I are currently in Maine for three months.  That relocation puts us away from the church in Massachusetts we attend during the other nine months.  Temporarily gone is the nicely structure church situation with its Bible studies and Sunday services.

The church in Maine that we had attended in previous years had a split during this past year and lost almost half of its regular attendees.  We discovered this when we went to church there last month.

Should we move on to another church?  Should we go to home-churching ourselves?  BUT God knew best.

We have now gone to that church several Sundays in a row and are being fed some delicious spiritual food!  The minister is tight to The Word (1 John) and we are learning.

Bible study?  I “came across” (God in the details!) a book at a yard sale up here two days ago.  “Listening for God” by Marilyn Hontz was a “random” pickup but in two days of reading it my approach to reading the Bible has dramatically changed.  (If you have been reading this blog for a while, you have already noticed the difference.)

Point?  My setting in Maine necessitates, at least for the time being, that I “Bible study” alone. Marilyn’s book has helped greatly.

The truth? My “Egypt’s” are not to be trusted.

The lie? God is not omnipresent.

Conclusions: My ultimate trust must be in God.  I can find Him in any setting I’m in.

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Following Dad’s Lead

“He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father David had done.”  2 Kings 18:3.

My father had a Godly influence on my life.  I was blessed to have that.

My father was a minister and as a preacher’s kid I was a regular attendee in many church services.  Not always happy to be there!

I was taught by him at an early age about hell and heaven.  I learned Scripture and I was familiar with Bible stories.  I thought that was enough…..but it wasn’t.

I became a believer as a pre-teen. One night I was awake in fear of death.  I wasn’t sick. I just began to realize that if I should die before I woke up, I was going to wake up in hell.  The realization scared me plenty!

All the times that my father had preached on the topic suddenly jelled into an understanding that I was hopelessly lost.  I needed to be saved.  Thankfully, in God’s providence, my dad had explained what I needed to do.  And so, I confessed that I was a sinner and believed that Jesus had died for my sins.  I invited Him into my life.  This was the blessed result for me of being raised by a Godly father.

Hezekiah was also blessed to have a Godly father like David.  Hezekiah knew, from his father’s example, what it took to please God; to do what “was right in the eyes of the Lord.”

David wasn’t a perfect father but Hezekiah, thanks to God’s intervention, was able find the lifestyle he needed to live out to please God.

I am a father, grandfather, uncle, and father-in-law.  I must set a Godly example.  There must be a willingness to follow God’s lead in my life.  Others in my family are watching.  Some of them may be learning.  Will I give the Hezekiah’s in my life what they need to please Him?  How about you?

 

 

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Looking for a role model? Try Hezekiah

“In everything that he undertook in the service of God’s temple, and in obedience to the law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly.” 2 Chronicles 31:21.

2 Chronicles 29-31 and James 4.

This is the way a Godly life is supposed to be led!

If you read about the kings in the Old Testament you are pleased when you come across Hezekiah.  King after king before him have displeased God.  They have worshiped other gods and separated from Him.  Then along comes Hezekiah.

I love the parts where Hezekiah seeks God and then works wholeheartedly doing what God wants.  Both of those behaviors are crucial to a Godly life.

I must have God’s directions for my life.  I cannot set a course and then invite Him along.  That’s is all wrong!  I must regularly ask, “What, Lord, do You want me doing?”

And when I fathom His Will, I must go about it energetically.  I must not be lazy.  I must not put off doing things until I feel like it.  I must be energized and concentrated.

So much to ponder.  Such a high standard to strive for.  However, in Him all things are possible.

“Lord, thank You for Hezekiah.  Thank You for his example of seeking You and serving You.  Help me to do both.  I love You, Lord.”

Seek and serve.  Behaviors to live by.

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Worthless pursuits lead to where?

“They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless.” 2 Kings 17:15.

Verse chosen from today’s Bible reading; 2 Kings 17, 2 Chronicles 28, Psalm 46, and James 3.

Tough read.

This line is obviously true.

If I chase things that are worthless, then I am heading in that same direction.

Think of the time wasted.  The brain cells compromised.

How often I know what I’m doing/watching is worthless, yet I persist.  That inner voice warns me, but I choose not to listen.  O wretched man that I am!

My life must be lived attached tightly to God.  I cannot venture into paths of my own choosing.  God is not mocked.

I must set my day on a course that will honor Him. There is nothing to be gained away from Him that is lasting.

“Lord, I need You every second.  I cannot trust my own intuitions.  Keep me from worthless pursuits.  I want to honor You in everything I do.  Guide me, O thou great Jehovah.”

Can we expect God’s blessing when we chase worthless things?

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Prove it!

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds?” James 2:14.

Verse chosen from today’s Bible reading; Isaiah 32-35 and James 2.

My actions must back up my Godly claims.

People are quick to characterize believers.  We are on 24/7 watch.

How often does a report of someone fallen mention that they were the leader of a church?  No mention is made that they belong to a health club!

I must be totally committed to God.  I have His Holy Spirit within me.  I must let that Spirit run every part of me full-time.

It is certainly important to realize that believers are still sinners.  We are capable of sin even though we desire not to sin.  It is part of what we are.  Note that we don’t want to sin, but it will happen.  We must be ready to admit our sinfulness and to take ownership of it.

“Lord, I love You.  Help me.  Guide me.  I want my actions to rightly represent You.  I cannot do this without a complete surrender to You.  I do that now.  Take me over, I beg.”

What do our action tell about us?

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Painful truth

“Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.”  James 1:26.

Verse chosen from today’s Bible reading; Isaiah 29-31 and James 1.

Of course, I’m religious!

I go to church, Bible studies, and all other good Godly things.

Today’s verse is tough on us religious folks.  Here we have defined what worthless religion looks like and what religion that is worthy looks like.

Sadly, I find my religion far too often to be worthless, based on today’s definition.

My words are too often sharp and tough.  I speak and then regret.  I joke and hurt someone’s feeling.  It’s not good.

My words are to be a gift to the one I’m speaking to.  They are to be pleased by what I say, not turned off.

I must remember that I am responsible for the words I use.  I put them out there.  O that I could have a “pause” button.  However, I do if I am tight with God.  I do if I am connected to Him without ceasing.  I do if I pray before I converse, asking Him for His Words not mine.

“Lord, I need You every second.  The looser I get the more trouble, especially verbally, I fall into.  Take me over right now.  I want to use only Your Words.  Prick my conscience when I mess up.  I love You, Father.”

Do your words make your religion worthless?  Mine do.

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Perfect peace

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”  Isaiah 26:3.

Verse chosen from today’s Bible reading; Isaiah 26-28 and Hebrews 13.

When I am troubled the cause is clear: I am not trusting completely in God to take care of things.

So often I want to handle my own affairs.  “I’ve got this one,” I foolishly think.

I must be trusting God in all things; big and small.

I do not have the capacity to get things right without His help.  Even when things appear to be “right” they aren’t.

When I trust God completely, I am not immune from difficulties.  Think of the trouble that Paul got into.  But even in trouble, he believed that it was the best thing that could happen to him.  That’s trust in God!

My walk with God must be in very small steps.  I can’t be jogging or running.  The pace must be deliberately slow so that I don’t get away from Him.

Imagine the joy of being where He wants me to be.  What else could I want?

“Lord, I love You.  Forgive me for detaching myself from You.  It is utter folly on my part.  Lead me and guide me.  I surrender to You now.  I love You, Lord.”

So often I am unsettled because I go my own way.  Perfect peace can only be found when I am doing what He wants me to do.

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