Beware of the Buttkissers

1 Kings 22 & 2 Chronicles 18

1 Kings 22 5 NIV sgl

Yes, I know, a bit of a sensational title. In fact, I can hear my mom reaching for the Irish Spring to place in my mouth because “butt” is not a church word. Please give me grace just a few sentences longer as I am someone who spends a great deal of time at school with 11 and 12-year olds. I often use a bit of high-brow potty humor for the connection and to make sure that I have your attention.  From here on out, I promise <crossing heart> I will use yes-men, suck-ups, sycophants, or something similar, but we’ll both know that I truly mean <in a whisper> “the ones who kiss b-u-t-t.”

Scattered throughout the last couple of weeks, we have read about the life of King Ahab. Today we will finish off Ahab [spoilers ahead] in more ways than one.  Ahab has grown unhappy that a previously Israeli owned-city, Ramoth Gilead, is now occupied by the Syrian (Aram) people, the very nation that was given over to him by God (1 Kings 20).  No doubt that Ahab’s misintentioned mercy to the Syrian nation (Again 1 Kings 20) has become less than advantageous, contemptuous, or is now, simply biting him in the…rear.  Ahab forms an alliance with Judah’s king, Jehoshaphat, who says he will fight with Ahab to take back Ramoth Gilead if he consults the LORD first.  Ahab thinks, “No problem; I have plenty of prophets.”. Enter the yes-men.

‘So the king of Israel brought together the prophets—about four hundred men—and asked them, “Shall I go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?”  “Go,” they answered, “for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.” – 1 Kings 22:6

Jehoshaphat isn’t convinced by the mass of soothsaying suck-ups for a simple reason: they do not mention God, YHWH, which prompts his head-scratching statement “Is there no longer a prophet of the LORD here whom we can inquire of?” “But didn’t the prophets say ‘the Lord will give <Ramoth Gilead> into the king’s hand?’” You may have heard it before, but it is worth reminding, that not all “lords” are equal in most English translations of the Old Testament.  L-o-r-d means master, which is often used for God, but L-O-R-D is the indisputable proper name of God, the Father, YHWH.  The sycophantic seers have not consulted with the Almighty, but have most likely consulted one another, telling the king whatever they think he wanted to hear.    Ahab confesses there is still ONE prophet of the LORD, Micaiah, but he doesn’t like to use him because he doesn’t like to kiss-up like the others. In fact, Ahab’s reluctance shows that he most likely already knew the truth. Micaiah lives up to his reputation, delivering a Word from the LORD that was unfavorable to what Ahab had already set upon his heart to do.

Is Ahab’s folly not our own? As I read about his fatal flaw, I can feel my own groan, lurch, and tumult described by Paul in Romans 7:15-20, between what I have intentioned in my heart and what the LORD wants of me.  What makes it worse is the body of booty smoochers ready to tell me that fulfilling my desires are what will ultimately make me happy.  In 2020, it doesn’t take much searching to find 400 people that agree with you.  Just because a crowd has formed in agreement with you, it doesn’t mean they (or you) know what’s best.  There are well-established organizations, conferences, websites, movements, forums, etc. that have opposing views to God’s desire for your life.  No matter how convincing the mob, there is only one way to get the truth: The Word of the LORD.  Yet the fact of the matter is as I wrestle with my desire, my pride, and my sin, I’d rather hear comforting, confirming, justifying lies from hundreds than hear a truth from a single person that would convict me and cause me to change. This would mean that the problem doesn’t externally exist in the world I live in, but within me, which is the hardest thing to hear (and the reason why we don’t invite challenging scriptures or a truth-telling Christian friend to the party, i.e. Micaiah)

“The word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” – Hebrew 4:12

There is great advice in the word of Jehoshaphat, “First seek the counsel of the LORD.”  Before taking any course of action, no matter how great or small, let me stop consulting my social circle of “yes people” and search the Word of the LORD for discernment.  Almost always, our only reluctance is because we already know the answer that is buried not-so-deep within our heart. Let’s pray that God will bring his convicting truth to our aspirations and challenge us to listen to His voice only as He guides us to His way.

 

Aaron Winner

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Kings+22%2C+2+Chronicles+18&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be 2 Chronicles 19-23 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

What is Jesus Doing These Days?

Ephesians 1-3

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Wednesday, June 28

God is eternal in both directions, past and future.  He is all-knowing, all-powerful, and the only God there is.  Jesus received all his power and knowledge from God and he had a beginning.  Jesus is not God.  That is very clear to me for many reasons we will not talk about in this devotion.  However, I have always tried to figure out what Jesus’ role is today.  I have heard very different opinions about his authority and power.  I have heard some say he is our king today and others have said he will be our king in the future.  Should we pray to Jesus or only to God?  Can Jesus forgive our sins?  Should we worship Jesus?  The answers to these questions cannot be explained by me in a few paragraphs and I cannot even say I am totally clear myself how it all works, but I am going to point to some scripture that will help to answer some of the questions.

Ephesians 1:19-22 says,”…These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised him from the dead, and seated him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come.  And He put all things in subjection under his feet, and gave him as head over all things to the church…”  Christ was put in a place of authority, power, and dominion FAR above everybody else when he ascended to heaven and was seated at the right hand of God.  This already happened so he is already in a great position of power and authority over all of us.

Does Christ use that power today?  In Matthew 11:27, Jesus says, “All things have been handed over to me by my Father.”  He follows that up in verse 28 by telling the weary and heavy-laden to come to him and he will give them rest.  He doesn’t tell them to go to God, Jesus says to come to him.  He clearly is willing to play an active role in our lives today.  This doesn’t mean God is not in the picture, in fact, Ephesians 2:18 says that through Christ we have access to the Father.  And again, all of this authority and power came from God in the first place.

In Mark 2:1-10, Jesus forgave the sins of a paralytic and the scribes started wondering the same thing that some still wonder today.  They thought only God alone could forgive sins.  Jesus let them know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.  Interestingly, this was obviously before he ascended to heaven that he already had the authority to forgive sins.

Philippians 2:9-11 states that God highly exalted Jesus, and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  The definition of lord is master, which means Jesus is our master.  He is the head of the church, which I believe is not just a title, but an indication that he is very involved in the church today.

This is far from an exhaustive study on this topic, but it is clear to me that Jesus is not on the same level as man these days and he is active in our lives if we want him to be.  He is also not on the same level as God, and God is still involved in our lives as well.  I will continue to search the scripture for more answers on this topic, but I think what I have covered in this devotion is a pretty good start.

-Rick McClain

 

Beware of Bad Company

Romans 14-16

1stCor15

Saturday June 17

 

Romans 16:17-19

17 Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.

18 For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.

19 For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil.

When I was a teenager, I explored many different groups of friends.  I would get really close with a circle of people and then move on to the next, checking out different types of people.   Over the years in high school, I formed an eclectic group of friends and I found this verse to be true: “Do not be deceived, ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.’” I Corinthians 15:33.  The Bible talks a lot about this.  Whatever you are watching or reading, it will get into your mind and come out of your mouth.  The same goes with who you surround yourself.  If your friends are loose morally, your attitude and standards will be affected negatively.  Often, we can get into a trap of thinking we are stronger than those around us…but more often than not, this is not true!

Paul understood this when he admonished the Romans to watch those who caused trouble and said things against what they had been taught.  He knew that those people had not made Jesus Christ their lord and only cared about their own selfish desires.  Those types of people can deceive you away from the truth and cause all sorts of evil.  Paul wanted them to be wise in the things of God which are good and have no knowledge of evil.

I remember a time during my sophomore year in high school that I hung out with some kids who were drinking.  I didn’t know how much they had to drink but I ended up in the back seat of a car packed with kids and quickly became aware that the driver was drunk by his erratic driving.   I was scared!  I remember praying desperately to God to save me and protect me.  He did and I made it home safely but I was shaken up.  I shouldn’t have been in that situation or hanging out with the kind of kids that would drink and then drive putting many lives at risk.  The friends I had at that time had loosened my convictions and I was in uncharted, ungodly territory.

What I have learned over the years of my life is that you want people that will bring you up and not down.  Choose friends that will make you better for God and stronger, ones that will admire your solid convictions and morals.  I married my husband, Sean, because he did this for me.  He pushed me in areas that I was weak and inspired me to work harder and be better for God.  Below are some verses that talk about the consequences of the company you keep.

Proverbs 13:20

He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will suffer harm.

1 Corinthians 5:11

But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler–not even to eat with such a one.

Proverbs 14:7

Leave the presence of a fool, Or you will not discern words of knowledge.

Psalm 26:4-5

I do not sit with deceitful men, Nor will I go with pretenders. I hate the assembly of evildoers, And I will not sit with the wicked.

Psalm 1:1-4

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.

Proverbs 22:24-25

Do not associate with a man given to anger; Or go with a hot-tempered man, Or you will learn his ways And find a snare for yourself.

1 Corinthians 5:6

Your boasting is not good Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough.

 

Ruth Finnegan

 

(photo credit: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/christiancrier/2015/06/23/top-7-bible-verses-about-morality/)