Saturday, November 29, 2014

To All Generations

READ 2 Kings 13-14

2 Kings 14:6 reminds us of a truth in the way that God deals with sinful humans: “But he did not put to death the children of the murderers, according to what is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, where the Lord commanded, ‘Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. But each one shall die for his own sin.’”

Those this verse is talking about death in a physical sense, the spiritual reality behind it is also true. People do not die spiritually and spend eternity in hell because of anyone’s sin but their own. Children don’t go to hell because of what their fathers did nor do fathers go to hell because of their children.

But, even more profoundly do we need to recognize that the opposite is also true. No one receives the gift of eternal life because of what someone else has done either. Children are not saved because their parents are nor vice versa. Each one must repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ on their own. As the very old saying goes: “God has no grandchildren.”

So have you repented and believed? Are you teaching your children the necessity for them to repent and believe? Grandfathers, are you passing the gospel to your grandchildren?

Prayer: Father, if any of us are trusting in our parents’ salvation to make us right with you I pray you would bring us to the end of that and grant us repentance and faith. Help us to know that our children and grandchildren are not included in your kingdom just because they were born into our families. Help us to be diligent to teach the truths of your Word to them so that the generations that follow may praise your name.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Thanksgiving Thought

READ 2 Kings 5-6

I suppose the case could be made that the prophets of Israel in these passages would correspond to pastors in the church today. With that in mind, I was reminded this morning how much I have to be thankful for in God’s blessings and provision for me as a pastor.

Elisha has had several miracles occur in his ministry thus far in only 5 chapters. Four of these have to do with a miracle that happened in order to provide for the well-being of the prophets: the widow of a prophet and her jar of oil (4:1-7); the stew of the prophets is cured (4:38-41); the feeding of 100 prophets (4:42-44); and now the saving of the borrowed axe head of a prophet (6:1-7). What a picturesque miracle that last was. I love the older English version’s rendering “the iron did swim.” Elisha knew there would be a large debt for him if the ace head were not found.

In each case God is caring for his prophets through the ministry of their leader Elisha. Reflecting on that, I am reminded how God has cared for me as a pastor through all these years. He has provided, sometimes through miraculous timing, for the needs of my family all these years. How gracious the Lord has been to us. It is good to remember and be thankful.

But it is also good for those who read this who are not pastors. When we read passages like Matthew 6:25-34 we see that these promises of God’s care and provision are not made to pastors…alone…but to all Christians. One need not be a prophet for God to meet all his needs. Rejoice and be glad and give thanks to the Lord!

Prayer: Father, it’s fitting at this Thanksgiving Season to be reminded of all your benefits to me. You have loved me with an everlasting love and provided all the needs of my family. How gracious and merciful you are to us. Blessed be your holy name.

Monday, November 24, 2014


READ 2 Kings 3-4

Picture this: 3 kings and 3 complete armies camped in the wilderness of Edom and there is no water…none. Several thousand men and animals with nothing to drink. So they call Elisha and ask him to inquire of God for them and, after an initial protest, he agrees. While the music plays the hand of the Lord comes upon Elisha and he prophesies that God will send water, mysteriously, and fill the streambed for them to drink. And then he says, “This is a light thing in the sight of the Lord. He will also give the Moabites into your hand” (3:18)

In today’s street vernacular one almost expects Elisha to say “Boom” at the end of that verse. Such a simple statement, such infinitely profound meaning. Filling streambeds with more than enough water for thousands to drink is a “light thing” to God…and…oh by the way, God will also give the army of Moab into your hand. Let us be reminded that nothing is too difficult for God. He is omnipotent!

Jeremiah 32:17 “Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.”
Jeremiah 32:27  “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?”

All of creation, the making of the heavens and the earth, were not difficult for God. He is the sovereign creator God and nothing is too difficult for him.

Remember that when things are difficult for you. They are not difficult for him. Place your trust in the one who is all-powerful and also loving, gracious, merciful, kind and holy. Rest in his unchangeableness.

Prayer: Father, thank you that you are who you are. You are Almighty God who made the heavens and the earth and all that is in them. You are righteous and holy. You are the God of all gods. Hallowed be your name. Lord, help me to trust in you and your power to rule in every affair of my life. Help me to rest in you. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Thanks for Those Who've Gone Before

READ 1 Kings 1-2

After Elijah is taken up and Elisha succeeds him as God’s anointed prophet in Israel, we see a strange incident involving Bethel boys and the prophet. Though there was a larger group whom Elisha cursed only 42 were killed by the bears who came out of the woods (2:23-24). Then Elisha went to Mount Carmel before finally returning to Samaria (25). My first thought thought at v.25 was, Why Mt. Carmel.” Then an answer came to me quickly. Though I may be interpreting this in light of my own experience, I think it has some merit for us today.

On my recent sabbatical I had the privilege and very moving opportunity to visit several places where some of my heroes of the faith ministered and were buried—George Whitfield in Newburyport, MA; Jonathan Edwards in Stockbridge and Northampton, MA; David Brainerd in Northampton, MA. Each of these men was used of God in mighty ways far beyond what I will ever come close to doing. Learning of there lives and visiting where they were used was a reminder and a challenge for me as I seek to serve the Lord in the ministry of the Word.

Perhaps Elisha, upon taking the reigns of prophecy from Elijah, simply wanted to revisit the site of Elijah’s greatest triumph to be reminded of how God had greatly used this man of God and be encouraged as he embarked on his ministry. The lesson is strong for us that we should never forget those who have gone before us. We should never be so caught up in the here and now that we don’t learn from the there and then. Godly folks who have gone before us were greatly used of God often in very difficult circumstances. May God help us to be faithful as they were.

Prayer: Father, thank you for men like Whitfield, Edwards and Brainerd. Thank you for the grace and power that was evidenced in their lives for you. Lord, help me to trust you and minister in your grace and power as they did. Use me in this place as you used them in those places.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Give Me Ears to Hear

READ 1 Kings 19-20

The story is very familiar. After winning a stunning victory over 450 prophets of Baal, Elijah turns tail and runs from 1 woman. He runs from the north to the south, ultimately to a cave in the mountain of God. Yes, the same mountain where God gave Moses the 10 Commandments. God sends a mighty wind, an earthquake, and a fire but the Lord is in none of those. Then comes (literally) “a voice, a thin silence” (19:12) that is the Lord speaking.

But what about God’s mighty display on Mt. Carmel? What about Isaiah 30:27 “Behold, the name of the Lord comes from afar, burning with his anger, and in thick rising smoke; his lips are full of fury, and his tongue is like a devouring fire?” What about Nahum 1:3-5 “The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. He rebukes the sea and makes it dry; he dries up all the rivers; Bashan and Carmel wither; the bloom of Lebanon withers. The mountains quake before him; the hills melt; the earth heaves before him, the world and all who dwell in it?” Doesn’t God always speak and act in mighty, thunderous ways? No, sometimes he speaks in a still small voice.

We must remember that. There are those times when the communication from the Lord is through his Word and thunders into our minds and hearts. Other times, we almost have to strain to know what he is saying to us. We must listen closely and focus intently and seek him diligently. Just because he is quiet does not mean that he is not there.

Prayer: Father, help me to hear you when you speak to me whether loudly or softly. Please give me ears to hear. And help me to obey when you speak.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Am I Elijah?

READ 1 Kings 17-18

Thanks to a man named Dale Ralph Davis I have a question in my mind about today’s passage (and about all biblical interpretation for that matter). As we read of the drought/famine that God brings upon the land and how God cares for his prophet we are encouraged by the ravens and the widows care that God cared for his prophet and he cares for us. But, here’s the question: Why should I so quickly identify myself with the prophet and not with the widow or even all the others who were suffering so under the difficult times? Many were losing their lives obviously.

Yes, it is true according to Matthew 6:25-34 and Luke 12:22-31 that God does promise to help his people and provide the basic needs of life. But in this story in 1 Kings, couldn’t my reference point just as easily be one of the prophets that was killed by Jezebel as it is Elijah?

So what’s the point? I guess the point that I am personally taking away today is that God doesn’t always promise that continued life and well-being will always be the case for us. Sometimes, in his sovereign will, the Lord allows/brings very hard times. And we know that, ultimately, God brings death for all of us (at least until Jesus comes). The question for me is will I still worship and honor him with my life even if everything doesn’t go as I might want it to go. Prayerfully, hopefully, the answer will be yes.

Prayer: Father, your ways are not our ways and your thoughts are not our thoughts. Help me, Lord, to count it all joy when I encounter various trials in my life. Help me to pray as Jesus did, even though I might want this “cup” to pass from me, “Nevertheless, not as I will but as you will.” Thank you for your steadfast love, O Lord.

Monday, November 17, 2014

One Cry

READ 1 Kings 13-14

The kingdom has been divided into two kingdoms, northern (Israel) and southern (Judah). Rehoboam, Solomon’s son reigns in the south and Jeroboam in the north. Jeroboam turns away from the Lord and completely disobeys his commands. “But you have done evil above all who were before you and have gone and made for yourself other gods and metal images, provoking me to anger, and have cast me behind your back” (14:9) So God prophesies through the prophet Ahijah what will happen to Israel: “The Lord will strike Israel as a reed is shaken in the water, and root up Israel out of this good land that he gave to their fathers and scatter them beyond the Euphrates, because they have made their Asherim, provoking the Lord to anger. And he will give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, which he sinned and made Israel to sin.” (14:15-16) Because of the sins of Jeroboam God will send Israel away into Babylonian captivity, some 200 years later in 722 b.c. There will be 17 more kings of the northern kingdom (by my quick count), but because of the very first one their doom is sealed.

What a sad and terrible tragedy. To think that one leaders sins can have such far-reaching consequences. If only the people had collectively and continually humbled themselves before the Lord and cried out to him for forgiveness and walked faithfully before him. Would God have relented and allowed them to remain? We will never know, will we.

All of this prompts me to think of the condition of our nation today and the desperate need of spiritual awakening to come to us. We are a sinful nation. The wrath of God is evident in the horrible sins that are taking place continually. It may be too late, but our only hope is to cry out to God for him to sovereignly bring a spiritual awakening to this land…for his glory alone. Brothers, let’s pray. Let’s join our hearts in One Cry with others across this land.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we humbly ask that you send revival. We ask that you burden your people with hunger for spiritual awakening. We pray, Father, that if it could be according to your will that you would turn this nation to you. Help us, Lord, we pray.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Unwelcome Adversaries

READ 1 Kings 11-12

In today’s reading I am reminded again of the absolute sovereignty of God. But there is also a humble reminder for pastors and other Christian leaders. Because of Solomon’s sin in turning his heart away from the Lord, marrying foreign wives and going after their gods, God does exactly what He warned He would do in 9:6-9. He takes the kingdom away from Solomon’s descendants and divides it.

Notice the hand of God in all this. God raised up adversaries against Solomon (11:14, 23). God told Jeroboam through the prophet Ahijah that He would divide the kingdom into 12  parts and Jeroboam would have 10 (11:29-39). The Lord did keep the 2 tribes of the Southern Kingdom for the house of David. When this came to pass God made it clear again that He had caused it: “So the king did not listen to the people, for it was a turn of affairs brought about by the Lord that he might fulfill his word, which the Lord spoke by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat.” (12:15)

Here is the humble reminder for Christian leaders. In our minds we often have the attitude that any opposition against us is not from the Lord but from the enemy. This story shows us that this is not always true. Sometimes, as was the case here and on other occasions in the OT, God is the one who raises up adversaries. God does it to discipline His people. Of course, that doesn’t mean that every adversary is from God and, perhaps, most are not. But it is good for us to be reminded that we are not infallible, only God is. If we do not walk closely with the Lord He will use others to correct us.

Prayer: Father, thank you that you love us enough to discipline us. Help me, Lord, to remember that there are those times where you will use adversaries, even possibly those with wrong motives, as your instruments of discipline and correction. Help me to seek your wisdom in knowing how to respond. And help me to know the I must always walk before you with integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that you have commanded and obeying your Word.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Preparing to Compare

READ 1 Kings 9-10

The Queen of Sheba comes to visit Solomon “to test him with hard questions.” She is amazed at his wisdom and the ease with which he answers her questions and the wealth that is displayed in his royal court and she is breathless (10:5). She then gives Solomon and extraordinary gift of 120 talents of gold. At today’s gold prices that would be well over a million dollars. Needless to say, she is impressed.

One wonders exactly why this story is included in the OT account, not once but twice (2 Chronicles 9). We already know that Solomon is wealthy and wise. So, with no further plot to the story, why tell of her visit except to underscore and emphasize the wealth and wisdom of Solomon? Well, I think that’s precisely the point. And it is the point for NT purposes.

Twice in the NT Jesus says, “The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.” (Luke 11:31; Matthew 12:42) The wealth and wisdom of Solomon is portrayed clearly for us in all its grandeur primarily so that we can see that Jesus is far greater than Solomon. The writer of 1 Kings is preparing the way for the exaltation of the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, everything in the OT is leading to this very goal of showing the wonder and work of our Lord and Savior. Carry that thought with you today and worship him continually.

Prayer: Father, thank you for giving your Son. Thank you that Jesus humbled himself and willingly went to the cross for lost sinners like us. Thank you that because of his obedience in death you have highly exalted him and given him a name that is above every name that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow and every tongue confess that he is Lord…to your glory, Father. Help us to live lives of bowing and confessing.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Most Beautiful Temple

READ: 1 Kings 7-8

Solomon’s house was truly amazing. But the Temple was more glorious still. While reading about the fabulous details of the house of the Lord that Solomon built and all the gold and the beautiful intricacies of the place I thought to myself, wow, what an unbelievably magnificent structure.

Then I began to wonder. If that Temple was so resplendent, when I look at myself and the other Christians I know, whose bodies are now the Temple of the Lord, we certainly seem to pale in comparison. And I asked the question in my mind: if that Temple prefigured for us the future temple, why doesn’t this temple “look” better? Here’s my answer…for now.

Not only are the bodies of individual Christians a temple of the Holy Spirit, but the NT indicates that the Church collectively is a temple of the Lord (Eph 2:19-22). Could it be that, in the mind of God, the church is more glorious than the Temple of Solomon? Is it, that in God’s eyes, the congregation of the redeemed of every tribe and tongue and people and nation is the most glorious temple of all? I think, humbly, the answer is yes. And it is yes not because of inherent beauty in the members of the church themselves. Rather it is a derived beauty because the church is the product of the gracious plan of God and the perfect redemption of Christ. The church is glorious because He is glorious! Blessed be His name!

Prayer: Father, thank you that you have redeemed us as a people to yourself and you are fitting us together into a dwelling place for you. Thank you that your eternal plan is and always has been the church as exhibit number one of your glorious grace and mercy and love. Help us to love your church as you love your church.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Inside of the House

1 Kings 5-6
November 12, 2014

I never want to be guilty of spiritualizing a text of the Scripture. However, there do seem to be times when the explicit meaning of the text has implicit implications for us. Perhaps that is so in what caught my attention today. Chapter 6 is nothing more than a detailed description of the building of the Temple, the house of the Lord. But what caught my eye was the emphasis on the inside of the house. Over and over we are told what Solomon did with the inside or the inner sanctuary within the house (15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20,21, 22, 23, 27, 29, 31, 36). Much care and attention was given to the inner portion of the house.

Metaphorically this is a picture of what God is doing today in His house, which is our bodies the temples of the Holy Spirit and the church of the Living God (1 Cor 6:19; 3:16; 2 Cor 6:16; Eph 2:21). God concentrates His work in molding us in the image of Jesus Christ on our inner being. Paul prayed, “that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being” (Eph 3:16). He also encouraged us in suffering, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day” (2 Cor 4:16). God is transforming us and conforming us to the image of Christ in our innermost being. We may look the same on the outside, but inside He is doing His gracious work.

Prayer: Father, thank you that you have predestined us to be conformed to the image of your Son. Thank you that in your grace, mercy and love you are faithfully building your house into the building you want. Father, help us to recognize that the process may be painful at times, but that you are renewing us day by day. And, Father, I pray for my brothers that they will be strengthened with power through your Spirit in their innermost beings.