When your life is over, how would you like to be remembered? After ruling over the Kingdom of Judah for 25 years, it was written that Jehoshaphat “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.” As we have learned, the king was not perfect, but he set his heart on seeking God. He went out and turned people back to the Lord. He appointed judges and setup a judicial system based on God’s Law. He also humbly sought God’s deliverance against a vast army. God delivered the King and his people. It would be great if that were the end of the story. The King was good-the end. But no, in the truthfulness of the scriptures we find out a huge blunder made by Jehoshaphat near the end of his life. He once again makes an alliance with another wicked king of Israel. This time he agreed to construct a fleet of trading ships. Of course, the ships were wrecked and these trading ships were never used.
From Jehoshaphat’s example, we should realize that it is so important that we use godly discernment in forming our relationships with others. Paul the apostle’s warning is “Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.” (1 Corinthians 15:33) We want to influence others for good and to show them the way to God. We never want them to adversely affect our relationship with God. It is easy to pick up habits and behaviors from our social group, but we are to be imitators of the Lord. Our relationship with God and Christ should be the most important relationship in our lives. May you be blessed as you read the scriptures and spend time with our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jehoshaphat was the fourth king of the Kingdom of Judah. We are told that he “sought the God of his father and followed his commands rather than the practices of Israel.” Jehoshaphat sent out leaders throughout Judah to teach the people from the Book of the Law of the LORD. He was a good king, but we are informed of a couple of mistakes he made in his life. In one instance, he allied himself with Ahab, the evil king of Israel. He even joined forces with Ahab to enter a war even though they were warned by God’s prophet that they would lose that battle. When he returns, he accepts the correction from Jehu the seer. We can learn so much from this.
When we find that we have sinned and realize that we have messed up in our spiritual lives, it is so important for us to repent and offer our situation up to God. He will forgive and restore us. Of course, no one wants to deal with the consequences of sin, but God will also give us the courage and strength to face the consequences as well. Paul assures us that nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Let’s remember:
We are God’s children. (Romans 8:14-17)
God is for us. (Romans 8:31)
God gave up his own son for us so He will graciously give us all that we need. (Romans 8:32)
God has forgiven us. He justifies us, declares us righteous in Christ. Do not doubt, because no one condemns us. We are in Christ. (Romans 8:33)
Christ is interceding for us. (Romans 8:34)
Christ loves us and there is nothing that can separate us from His love. (Romans 8:35-39)
God and Christ will help you overcome. We are told that in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. What does it mean to you to be “more than a conqueror” through him who loves you? Trust Him to lead you to victory!
I think everyone can empathize with Paul when he states, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15)
Even in every day routines there may be areas we want to improve or change. Just look at the huge amount of self-improvement and renewal books that are printed each year. Maybe we want to: lose weight, get fit, stop bad habits, eat healthier, get out of debt and save money, spend more time with family, be less stressed or read through the Bible. Ok, hopefully this one is happening.
So wanting to overcome sin and do good is a great goal, but maybe you feel as Paul did, “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” On our own, we cannot overcome sin, but as Christians we are not on our own. Thank the LORD, He is with us and He has provided what we need to overcome sin. In verse 25 we see that Paul is relying on God’s provision in Christ. “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
We are no longer condemned because we are in Christ Jesus, but sin is condemned. Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. We no longer live by our sinful nature, but according to the Spirit. And as we will discover in Romans chapter 8, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us and nothing in all creation, is able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. We truly need to realize the love that God has for us and rely on His Spirit working in us.
When I was a child, I had the chance to make some extra money in the summer. About 8-10 of us would work in the fields around our neighborhood. It was hard work in the hot summer sun and our wage was .50 an hour. Some of the older kids made a dollar an hour. No, we didn’t care about minimum wage laws, because we received a bonus of a free soft drink after a couple of hours of work in the fields. That was exhausting work in the heat, but at the end of the day we received our wages. Our wages were exactly what we earned and deserved. We knew ahead of time what we would be paid for our work.
I was reminded of this by today’s reading. The first part of Romans 6:23 states, “For the wages of sin is death.” We understand that sin means missing the mark. It is from a Greek archery term meaning to miss the bulls-eye. Everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We all realize that we deserve punishment for our sin, but living in a life of sin can deceive us. When we open ourselves to sin, we start believing the lies. We justify and reason away our wrong behavior. Remind you of some kings we have been reading about? We read their stories, and say to ourselves, “What are you doing? Just stick with God. He will deliver your nation like He has done before.” God would give the kings victory and peace, but they forsook Him because of sin and pride.
We know that sin leads to death, so let’s make a commitment to a life that is interwoven with God. When we are close to God, we are going in the right direction and following His commands. We are experiencing His love and blessings every day.
The rest of Romans 6:23 continues “but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Thank you God for this gift!
Solomon died and his son, Rehoboam became king. The people requested that he lighten the harsh labor and the heavy yoke that the king was requiring of them and they would serve him. It takes a lot of taxes and hard work to support the extravagant lifestyles of a family of 700 wives and 300 concubines. By following the poor advise of his peers, he unwisely threatened to increase the harsh labor and make the peoples’ yoke heavier. He arrogantly pronounced “My father made your yoke heavy; I will make it even heavier.” Nope. That was it. No more. The people had enough. They refused to support the king any longer.
The united kingdom of Israel was divided. There was now a northern Kingdom of Israel and the southern Kingdom of Judah which included Jerusalem and was ruled by Rehoboam. Jeroboam, the king’s rival becomes the king of Israel.
We can learn a lot from Rehoboam’s mistakes. We can take advice from godly individuals with more life experience and we can sympathize with others who are experiencing difficulties especially if we are leading those individuals. But perhaps the most important thing we should learn from his example is that Rehoboam “did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the LORD.” Our life purpose should be to experience a loving relationship with God through Jesus. What portions of our lives might be torn apart because we reject God? What portions of our lives will receive blessings by seeking the LORD?
Imagine the excitement as the very great caravan of the queen of Sheba arrived in Jerusalem. Envision the camels carrying spices, large quantities of gold and precious stones. The queen brought amazing treasures, but she was in search of a different kind of treasure from Solomon. She had questions and she wanted answers. Solomon was able to answer all her questions through the God-given wisdom he possessed. She experienced the blessings that God had given to this king and his people which made her feel overwhelmed. She offered praise to the LORD and understood that God loved Israel. She discovered that out of this love, God had provided the people with a king that could maintain justice and righteousness. Her encounter with Solomon, the people and her time of worship in the temple made a lasting change for this queen.
Even Jesus states that the queen will rise at the judgment with his generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now something greater than Solomon was there. Of course, that something greater was our Lord Christ Jesus. It is great to imagine meeting and talking with this queen in the resurrection. It is incredible to think of the people that have the opportunity to experience this resurrection because of sharing our love and faith in our God. Just as the queen encountered the LORD through the Israelites, we have the opportunity to share how amazing God is with those in our world today. What a celebration that will be when all of us are together at the resurrection!
Today we celebrate the many freedoms that we have in our country. We are so blessed to live in a country that allows us to worship God and so freely profess our belief in Christ. The scriptures explain that through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free. We are also free from the law of sin and death. (Rom. 8)
From the beginning, God has given human beings freedom in the form of free will. He allows us to choose. We can choose to follow Him and His Son or we can reject them because we want to go our own way. It is so clear to see this choice when it is placed before the people in the scriptures. Their own evil desires will result in sin and death or they can follow God as He leads them and others to life. Life that is described as abundant and everlasting.
Solomon had been making some great choices for God. He was honoring Him. God’s temple was being dedicated and Solomon was using his influence for good. As always when people draw near to God, He draws near to them. God assures them that He is there with fire from heaven and His glory filling the temple. The people praise the LORD by saying, “He is good; His love endures forever.” After this the LORD even appears to Solomon. God presents a choice that Solomon has to personally make. Solomon can walk before the LORD faithfully following everything that God commanded or reject God by doing his own thing.
Unfortunately, as Solomon’s life unfolds, he begins breaking the laws that he was given. One by one he breaks the few laws that he was asked to follow as the king. He continues following some of God’s laws while ignoring others. His heart was led astray, just as the LORD told him it would be.
Solomon had wealth, fame, power, and wisdom, but none of that mattered because he allowed people and things to replace his love for God. Let’s examine our own hearts today and freely give them completely to our God. We know that “He is good; His love endures forever.”
We have learned so much as we finish the book of Leviticus. Chapter 26 begins with a warning from the LORD. The Israelites are told not to make any object to became an object of worship. We can look at the Israelites throughout their history and become very critical. They succumb many times to the worship of idols. Every generation had to make the choice to follow the LORD God or to worship the false gods that the Israelites had allowed into their culture. Even future Kings would face this choice and unfortunately many choose to devote their lives to idols. But I also have to wonder if we are not making that same choice today? Are there false gods in our lives? For example, we don’t create our own electronic devices and bow down to them, but perhaps we spend hours surfing, checking out what is on social media, texting, gaming, … When something is receiving our focus and taking our attention away from God, we should consider it a negative. We are allowing something to get in the way of our relationship with God. Anything or any person that negatively affects our connection with God is a modern-day idol. In Colossians we are told that sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed are idolatry. (Col. 3:5) It states that we should put these actions to death. But it is not enough just to remove the idols, we need for God to change our hearts. When our hearts are filled with love for God, our actions start to align with what God wants us to do.
As God explained to the Israelites, they needed to observe His Sabbaths, show reverence for His sanctuary, follow His decrees and obey His commands to receive amazing blessings. Then He would walk among them, He would be their God and they would be His people. How incredible is that?! We are presented with a choice to make today as well. We can enter into a loving relationship with God. We can ask Him to make our love for Him and others strong. We can invite God to be the center of our lives. We can place our focus on His Son Jesus Christ. We can live in His presence by the power of His spirit. God is still reaching out to us, His people. He offers us blessings and the greatest one is to be in His presence.
May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones. 1 Thessalonians 3:13
Just 37 days until Easter. We get to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ on Sunday, April 4 this year. Our church is already planning a special weekend that includes a prayer walk and a special outdoor worship service. I love religious holidays. We have time to think about the true meaning of the celebration. This Christmas we sang, read Bible stories, and celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ for several weeks. We had multiple Services including a candlelight service on Christmas Eve. We also have special services for Thanksgiving which allow us the opportunity to express how truly grateful we are.
In Leviticus 23 the Lord’s appointed festivals are given to the people. The sabbath was observed each week with rest from regular work and a sacred assembly. The Israelites were to hold festivals, sacred assemblies and offerings at appointed times annually. Each had special meaning. These festivals were reminders of what God had done, to thank Him for what He was still doing and also provided an occasion for interaction with the LORD through worship and offerings. An opportunity to break from the everyday routine and focus on the LORD. The (1)Sabbath, (2)Passover and Festival of Unleavened Bread, (3) Offering the Firstfruits, (4)Festival of Weeks, (5)Festival of Trumpets, (6)Day of Atonement and (7)Festival of Tabernacles began.
As Christians, we daily set aside time to spend with the LORD and we regularly assemble with other Christians to join in Worship and Praise through our Lord Christ Jesus. We daily walk with God and follow the example of Christ. How blessed are we to live in a time when we can openly celebrate the major holidays, and we can also celebrate every day because our God lives in us by His Holy Spirit. (Romans 8:11) We can praise Him for every good thing we experience every day. He is available to us at all times through our mediator Christ Jesus. The book of Hebrews explains that through Jesus, we can continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise-the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. The passage also reminds us that we should not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (Hebrews 13:15-16) So let’s dedicate every day to the LORD.
You may have noticed that the SeekGrowLove blog features a key verse: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” from Jeremiah 29:13. The LORD confirms that our seeking is worth it, because ultimately, we will find Him. However, there is an important requirement; we need to seek with all our heart. What does this phrase “with all our heart” really look like? How can we seek “with all our heart”? Perhaps “with all our heart” seeking is completely and sincerely devoted. Maybe determined and enthusiastic. This type of seeking is relentless, full of passion for what is right. It can’t be stopped. Psalm 27:4 states, “The one thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.” Verse 8 continues, “My heart says of you, ‘Seek His face!’ Your face, Lord, I will seek.’” You can hear the determination in that statement. The writer wants to be in the presence of the LORD. They are completely and sincerely devoted. Enthusiastic for the presence of the LORD. They are pursuing him ‘with all their heart.’
This is what the LORD desires for us. “The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.” (Psalm 14:2) He wants us to seek him wholeheartedly. Passionately. Relentlessly. In life, we can be distracted with many pursuits, desires, and distractions. However, we can choose to refocus on the one who matters. We can choose to seek “with all our heart.” The benefits of this type of “with all our heart” seeking is great. Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” This desire to be close to God will be rewarded. We are rewarded today with our close loving relationship with God and later when we see Him face to face. So, if you start to feel discouraged or distracted, remember who our seeking will lead to: “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:3,4)