Who Is Your King? – Rehoboam

21 02 2017

I haven’t posted in quite a period of time, so here are some notes from a recent series.

On July 8, 2010 – LeBron James got on ESPN to announce that he would be leaving Cleveland to play basketball for the Miami Heat.  This caused an avalanche of criticism throughout Cleveland and the country.  LeBron grew up in Akron, OH where he played high school basketball.  He went directly into the NBA, bypassing college where he was drafted as the first overall pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003.  When the dust settled from his decision it was discovered that his decision was greatly influenced by a group of advisors.  LeBron had surrounded himself, his brand and business with the friends with which he went to high school. At this point they were 25 years old.  His decision and even more how he presented his decision without notifying the owner of the Cavs ahead of time blew up in his face.  He spent years and years repairing his name and regaining the trust of those in the game.

LeBron is a perfect picture of the man we’re going to look – Rehoboam.

Rehoboam was a man who spent his life listening to the wrong people and ignoring the words of the right people and influences in his life.

We begin a look at the kings of Judah.  We’ll be stepping through the lessons we can learn from these kings as we ask ourselves the question, “Who Is King in our life?”

1 Kings 12 & 2 Chronicles 10

Let’s set the scene, so we know where we find ourselves.  For 120 years the nation of Israel has had a king.  First was King Saul, a man who was more worried about what the people thought than what God directed.   He was insecure in every way.  Second was King David, a man after God’s own heart. The king united the 12 tribes, settled the capitol in Jerusalem and set the course for the people to truly follow God.  God promised the throne to King David’s lineage forever.  Third was King Solomon, David’s son and the wisest man to ever walk the earth.

Solomon built the Temple in Jerusalem.  He raised Israel to its zenith of power, prestige and wealth.  Israel was the economic hub of the world during his reign.  Then at end of his life, he allowed himself to be seduced by women and his hundreds of wives stole his heart toward their idols causing Israel to begin a decline.  Due to Solomon’s sin, God told him that much of the kingdom would be taken from his son.  Solomon died and in entered his 41-year-old son, Rehoboam.

Rehoboam was born one year prior to Solomon taking the throne.  He would have been a toddler when the temple was built.  He spent his teen years while Israel was reaching its greatest heights.  He probably spent his late 20’s and 30’s watching his father accumulate wives by the hundreds and compromising spiritually.  His friends were most likely the sons of Solomon’s drinking buddies.

When he finally took the throne the people were tired and over taxed from maintaining Solomon’s lavish lifestyle and kingdom.  We will quickly discover that Rehoboam was a man with little character and listened to those that told him what he wanted to hear.

We’ll see this 4 times.

  1. Rehoboam didn’t listen to the people.

In 1 Kings 12:1-10, Rehoboam goes to be crowned king.   Led by his father’s adversary, a man name Jeroboam, the people instantly meet him with a request.  The request in Vs. 4 & 7 was to reduce their burden and they would promise to serve the king. (Side note – They weren’t concerned about the spiritual decline, just the taxes and workload – Sound familiar)  So, Rehoboam sent them off for 3 days to take counsel.  The first counsel was from the older men that had served King Solomon.  They told him what he didn’t want to hear. Vs. 7 – “If thou will be a servant unto the people…” – He thought way too much of himself to serve his people.  You are never a true leader until you are willing to serve others.  The second counsel was from the young buddies with which he grew up.  They advised him to “show the people who’s boss”.  Act tough and scare them.  The advice was self-interested.

Note that their advice never addressed the consequences.  Evil & Sin will never tell you the consequences and when you follow sin’s path it leads to destruction and hurt in your life and others.

What happened?  Vs. 15-16 & 2 Chron. 10:15 both tell us the same thing.  “the king hearkened not unto the people” He didn’t listen to the people.  Rehoboam’s conduct helped fulfill God’s prophecy to Solomon.  The people left and the northern 10 tribes made Jeroboam their king.  The southern 2 tribes (Judah & Benjamin) kept Rehoboam as king.  From that point on Israel was two nations. The northern kingdom kept the name Israel while the southern kingdom was known as Judah.  Our decisions have lasting effects on those around us.  This was not God’s plan for His people, but was the result of Solomon’s sin and Rehoboam’s pride.

In the midst of civil war, Rehoboam sent Adoram to the people to try to get them back and he was killed (dumbest move ever – He was the tax man – funny/sad).  Rehoboam ran back to Jerusalem to save his life and raise an army of 180,000.  Trust me – If we’re looking for someone to tell us what we want to hear, we can find it.  We must learn to listen even when it’s not what our ego want to hear.

  1. Rehoboam partially listened to God

Vs. 22 & 24 – The prophet Shemaiah was sent by God to tell Rehoboam not to send his army to war with the northern tribes.  Rehoboam listened (partially) – He did recall the army, but he continued to fortify against Israel.  In 2 Chron. 11:5-10 we find that he instantly made plans for war.  It tells us he fortified the cities creating a circle of defense and he armed his citadels.  On the surface it looked like he was genuine, but behind the scenes he was making his own plans.  Does that sound familiar? Do we find ourselves outwardly agreeing with the message or direction, but all along we’re making backup plans or creating our own way in life?  We say, “I trust God to lead my life”, but we’re thinking, “I’ll keep this alliance and this friendship open”, even though it is spiritually bankrupt.  We don’t say it, but we’re thinking, “Sometimes I need someone to carry out my dirty work for me to keep things going my way”.  Rehoboam was preparing physically, but not spiritually.

  1. Rehoboam listened to the family in his life

Rehoboam’s true colors finally came out.  A little bit of success came and his true nature was revealed.  In 2 Chron.11:14-17 we find Jeroboam as king in Israel and he was very insecure in his ability to hold the kingdom, so he created some pagan worship in Israel that resulted in mass immigration from Israel down into Judah.  The priests, Levites and people wanting to serve God were filling Judah and the capitol of Jerusalem.  Note Vs. 17 says that “they strengthened the kingdom”.  The people who chose to follow God strengthened the kingdom.  (Off topic but you need to know that you are strengthening our nation by your faith.)  This resulted in 3 great years in Judah and according to 2 Chron. 12:1, Rehoboam felt like his kingdom was established.

Basically, he got what he wanted, then left God.  It’s like the person that asks for healing or stability in their family or finances and once their head is above water again they go back to however they want to live.  There is no commitment to God, there is not gratefulness, there is no real love.

Are you playing that game today?  Don’t think that God doesn’t realize we’re playing games with Him.  God will not be mocked!

Rehoboam does this and switched from listening to God to following his influences.  We are told of two great influences in Rehoboam’s life and we can understand what happens next in the kingdom.  In 1 Kings 14, God makes a specific point of telling us about Rehoboam’s mother.  Vs. 21 ends by telling us his mother was Naamah an Ammonitess.  Then at his death in Vs.31 his mother’s name is recorded a second time.  That is not typical for that to be mentioned twice.  It is to point out that although Rehoboam was of the bloodline of the great King David and Solomon, he was equally of the bloodline of Ammon.

The Ammonites were the descendants of Lot’s younger daughter (who was raised in Sodom) born from their incestual relationship.  All of Ammon’s history was wrapped in wicked, sexual idolatrous nature.  This was the woman who had raised Rehoboam and had helped steal the heart of King Solomon to bring the evils of the false god, Molech into Israel.  Molech was the false god that focused on the sacrifice on children. This is the woman that helped shape the mind of King Rehoboam.  These poor marriages in Judah were a curse to the nation and it effected its character.

Next we’re told of his wives in 2 Chron. 11:18-21 where we find in Vs. 21 that his most beloved wife was Maachah.  Maachah was the daughter of Absalom. Absalom was King David’s son that led a revolt against his father.  Absalom represents the spirit of rebellion.

We must be extremely careful whom we allow to influence our lives and the lives of our family.  Influence comes through our friendships – Our extended family.  It comes through those we follow of social media.  It comes through the songs & things we watch.  We are to guard our mind, our eyes, and our hearts – Our own & our family’s.

It is no surprise then in 1 Kings 14:22-24 that we read where he took the nation.  Like a spoiled kid, he was afraid of the consequences of judgment, but had no heart to turn to God.  His pride and arrogance set in.  In 1 Kings 4:22-24 we’re told that high places for idol worship were put in place and male shrine prostitutes were in place.  It was homosexual hedonism & religion combined and an invitation for God’s judgment.

We will see through this series of messages that the high places setup become a part of the nation’s culture, destroying lives for centuries.  2 Chronicles 12:1 tells us “And it came to pass, when Rehoboam had established the kingdom, and had strengthened himself, he forsook the law of the LORD, and all Israel with him.”  Note, “all Israel with him”.  A leader’s influence is greater than we can imagine.  It is a position of privilege and peril.  Do not take lightly your influence on those in your life. In our society of ever lower formalism, we have been allowed natural barriers erased that reveal our most vulnerable weaknesses.

  1. Rehoboam feared the people wouldn’t listen to him

So what happened to Rehoboam?  Rehoboam & Judah’s action invited God’s judgment  2 Chron. 12:2 we see the Egyptian Pharaoh, Shishak, was used by God as a rod of judgment on the land.  In the O.T. God would often use another nation as a rod of discipline or chastening on His people (Ex. Isa. 10:5 – Assyria).  Shishak came from the south and Rehoboam was not prepared.  The fortified cities he made were swept away with ease.  This was the largest army Egypt had numbered in centuries.

In 2 Chron. 12:5-8 we’re told that Rehoboam and the princes humbled themselves to God and God showed mercy.  The prophet told them they wouldn’t be destroyed, but would become servants to Shishak.  We must realize that repentance and faith are always the right steps.  They result in a lessening of our pain, but not a full removal of our consequences.  The reason the consequences of our sin aren’t completely removed is so we’ll learn.  Vs. 12 – “That they might know my service”.  God allowed Shishak to enter Jerusalem and 1 Kings 14:26-28 tells us that all that King David had won in battle and dedicated to God and all that King Solomon had built up was taken.

Remember Israel had been the hub of the world economy during King Solomon.  History shows us that from this attack, Egypt would become a world power again for a season possessing the world’s gold reserve (Solomon’s gold).  This kicked off a military & economic boom in Egypt.  The blessings of Israel went to another.

We’re also told that Shishak took the 300 golden shields that King Solomon had made.  2 Chronicles 12:9-11 – Rehoboam was shamed as king. The gold shields that signaled his power and riches were gone.  I’m sure he feared the people’s response, so he had bronze shields made in their place.  Sin cheapens us – Are we as a christian a gold shield or are we pretending like the brass?  We look good, but are we truly following God?

Note, that he only brought the brass shields out when he entered God’s house. The shields used to be displayed proudly in the King’s house.  Is that Bible you’re holding only brought out on Sunday?  More importantly, are the teachings of the Bible and your relationship with God only demonstrated on Sunday?  Is it brass, only to be put away like Rehoboam put the shields back in the guard chamber?  Too often we’re acting like gold, but being fake.  Just like Rehoboam, on the surface gold, but lacking in character.  God is not fooled by temporary faith.  God doesn’t judge the mask, but what’s underneath.

Teenager, ask yourself, are you outwardly doing what’s asked, but inward your heart is running?  To Whom are you listening?  How about the rest of us?  We show up for church and might even be really listening to God for the moment, but then it’s tax time, the expense report doesn’t give us what we want or our dating activity isn’t all we want – the list can go to any area of our life.  To Whom are we listening?

2 Chron. 12:14 tells us that Rehoboam did evil, “because he prepared not his heart to seek the LORD.”  It’s time to listen to the Lord and not ourselves or those around us.

Let me add one final thought.  It is sad to note from the time God declared judgment on Solomon in 1 Kings 11, to the time of this civil war, to the time of the Egyptian invasion, NO ONE is recorded to have prayed for their sin.  There was no prayer from the kings, no intercession by a priest, prophet or Levite is recorded.  Realize that mercy triumphs judgment every time, but no one asked.  Words of judgment are supposed to be a beacon, a calling for intercession.  The N.T. shares with us the judgment on man because of our sin. It is there as a beacon pointing to our need for a Savior in Jesus Christ.

No one stood in the gap for Israel.  Abraham had stood in the gap for Lot & Sodom.  Moses had stood in the gap for Israel at Mt. Sinai.  David & Daniel stood in the gap.  But, no one did for Israel at this time and the result split the nation for centuries.

In the 3rd year of the U.S. Civil War our President, Abraham Lincoln realized this need for our nation.  And on April 30, 1863 he called for a national day of humility, prayer and fasting.

“Whereas the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the supreme authority and just government of Almighty God in all the affairs of men and of nations, has by a resolution requested the President to designate and set apart a day for national prayer and humiliation; and

Whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord;

And, insomuch as we know that by His divine law nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.

It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness. ——–

Now, therefore, in compliance with the request, and fully concurring in the views of the Senate, I do by this my proclamation designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting, and prayer. And I do hereby request all the people to abstain on that day from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite at their several places of public worship and their respective homes in keeping the day holy to the Lord and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion.

All this being done in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the divine teachings that the united cry of the nation will be heard on high and answered with blessings no less than the pardon of our national sins and the restoration of our now divided and suffering country to its former happy condition of unity and peace. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this 30th day of March, A. D. 1863, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-seventh.”  ABRAHAM LINCOLN

Although the Civil War would continue for a period. It was only a short period after this day of prayer that there were major turning points in the war leading to victory for the U.S.

God has given us His word as a beacon to our lives?  Will we listen to its warnings?  There’s a warning for our life of sin, but throughout the Bible God shines the light pointing to salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ.  Will you respond?  Call out to God for forgiveness by faith in Jesus Christ.

Christians – How will you respond?  Allow the Holy Spirit to examine your heart.

To what voices are you listening?

Will you prepare your heart by listening to God?

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Following God’s Plan for Our Family

19 01 2016

 

This past Thanksgiving was very interesting to me.  There was a greater focus by society to mention being thankful during Thanksgiving, but nearly every reference lost the Subject of the thanks.  We were told to instruct the thanks to our family, friends and those that serve and protect us.  That all sounds good and those folks are worthy of being thanked.  However, the original intent and focus of the holiday was to thank the Lord for His provision and protection through another year.

There’s been a role reversal – This article isn’t about Thanksgiving, but this role reversal has happened in every area of our life.  Especially when it comes to our families.  We, as Christian families, are allowing society to change what is important in raising our families.  In our society, we feel that if we have raised our kids to stay away from harmful things and to accomplish certain feats we’ve been successful.

George Barna put it masterfully – “These measures are meaningful as far as they go.  We are measuring their well-being based upon the wrong standards.  Without realizing it, we have made ourselves the judge and jury of what is right and wrong, good and bad, useful and useless in relation to our children’s lives.

We have replaced God with ourselves.  We have ignored God’s Word when it comes to determining how well we’re doing, believing that if our conditions meet the social norms we’re most likely in compliance with God’s expectations.”

The problem is our culture continues to move from God.  We might feel we’re still doing well compared to the world, but our standard is in the wrong spot.  We have to realize that God’s Word always trumps society.  To reduce and eliminate this role reversal in our family we must study and apply what God has to say about the family.

Ephesians 5:33-6:4

Following God’s plan:

  1. Creates an environment for family

Eph 5:33 – The husband is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to reverence her husband.

When we follow God’s plan of loving and caring for our spouses we create an environment that is a godly home.  Your house becomes different than the one’s on your street.  When we have constant bickering and fighting or an unwillingness to meet each other’s needs we have created an atmosphere for rebellion.  The husband will start to abandon his wife.  The wife will begin to isolate herself and lash out.  This causes more and more of both and we get stuck in a downward spiral.  This has to be resolved before children come on the scene or if you’ve slipped back into it, before grandchildren.

How do we fix this (Brunson)

  1. Be Committed
    • Be committed to your spouse – focus on their needs first
    • Be committed to Christ – daily time – This will help with your spouse
    • Be committed to raising children
      • If you plan on children, be committed to actually raising them.
    • Be ready to sacrifice what’s needed to do the job according to God’s plan.
  2. Start Early – If you have kids, plan to have kids, raising grandkids, other’s kid, aunt or uncle
    • Start early – All studies show that by the time children start talking they are cementing personality traits.
    • They will emulate what they see & hear.
  3. Grow Spiritually – This is a big one
    • We can’t impart what we don’t possess. (You gotta have it to give it!!)  If what you’re dishing out isn’t real to you, it won’t be to them either.  If Sunday is a show, they will decide not to be a cast member when they get a choice.  Deut. 6:1-9 is the OT instruction summary for parents. In Vs. 5-7 we are told for it to be on our heart, then to teach them diligently.  We have to study and live God’s Word before instructing our children. But, we note we are to instruct our children at all times.  Our children, even if they’re grown, need to see us growing spiritually. It spurs them to know there’s more for them to learn.
    • So following God’s plan creates an environment for family.

Following God’s plan also:

  1. Creates an environment for blessing (Vs. 1-2)

In Vs. 1, children are instructed to obey their parents.  Obey – means you are under the voice of your parents.  Children – refers to being in your parent’s home and watch care.  “Obey your parents in the Lord” – See what Paul has done here.  He has linked your obedience to your parents with your obedience to God.  Therefore, disobedience to your parents is disobedience to God.  This means – What we wear, how we speak, what we watch, following their rules.  The verse ends with “for this is right”.  We don’t want to believe it, but following our parents is right – best thing for us.  They have our best interest in mind, they’ve seen more than we have.

Now watch how Paul continued in Vs. 2, “Honour thy father and mother”.  Honor is high esteem.  See the progression

First Obedience – this deals with the action

Second Honor – this deals with the attitude

We always start with obedience, because that’s outward, but it must make its way inside us to honor.  We are eventually obedient because of honor or respect.  Children, Teens, College Students – You have to follow God in this.  If you can’t be obedient to your parents, you will struggle with obedience with every authority that comes in your life. (i.e. Teachers, Police, Bosses)  If you find yourself mad all the time at those put in your life, that’s your pride. You need to be obedient.  God promises a reward to those that follow Him in this commandment.  It will keep you from unnecessary harm and punishment.  It will open up opportunities because of trust you’ve earned.  It will create love that you need in your life.

What eventually happens is the honor will surpass the obedience.  You choose to follow and respect their wishes out of honor for them.

I’ll give you a funny one in my own life.  I grew up in Indiana on a fairly big yard, and I struggled with being obedient in mowing our yard. (It took all day, it was on a hill for most of it, yellow jacket nests in the ground) But I did it, often reluctantly.  Now, my dad passed away several years ago, but out of honor I mow their grass.  I’m sure my dad is laughing in Heaven every time I mow that yard.

 

Following God’s plan:

  • Creates an environment for family
  • Creates an environment for blessing
  1. Creates an environment for nurturing (Vs. 4)

Watch the progression – Couples, Children and now Fathers.  Fathers, we are instructed not to provoke our children to wrath, but to nurture them in the admonition of the Lord.  We are to bring them up.  Mold not just their minds, but more importantly their hearts.  We have to understand their heart if we’re going to nurture and not provoke them.  When our child messes up or falls we need to ask why?

Was it out of ignorance?  They don’t know how to deal with the situation or don’t know what to do?

Was it out of discouragement?  They’ve lost hope or have given up.

Was it out of rebellion?  They are testing your limits or don’t want to follow the leadership put in their life.

Discernment is crucial, because the training needs to match the problem. (MacDonald)

  • Ignorance – We need to teach them
  • Discouragement – We need to comfort them
  • Rebellion – We need to discipline the will

If we don’t rely on God to give us discernment, we bust in and provoke our children.

Examples

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  • Ignorance – We discipline instead of teach and the child will close off to the parent and withdrawal.
  • Ignorance – We comfort instead of teach and the child feels there’s no help and despair sets in and they seek answers elsewhere.
  • Ignorance – We teach and the child learns and grows.
  • Discouraged – We discipline instead of comfort and the child’s spirit is broken.
  • Discouraged – We teach instead of comfort and the child becomes more frustrated and more discouraged.
  • Discouraged – We comfort and the child builds and grows.
  • Rebellion – We teach instead of discipline and the child becomes more rebellious because they don’t see any consequences for their actions.
  • Rebellion – We comfort instead of discipline and the child’s heart is hardened and they begin to hate the comforter. We have to win these battles.
  • Rebellion – We discipline and the child’s heart is molded.

Why is this so important? Because we are a reflection of our Heavenly Father!  Our kids develop their view of God as they watch us. It’s important!  Prov. 22:6 – “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  Note, “the way he should go”.  Each child has a different direction, so we need to pray to God for discernment when instructing our children.

This is the opposite of most of what you’re going to see on TV this week or read, but following God’s plan is a plan for life that helps us honor our Heavenly Father.

When we follow God’s plan

  1. It creates an environment for family
  2. It creates an environment for blessing
  3. It creates an environment for nurturing

Applying these verses needs to be more than a lifelong goals, but a daily determination.





Choosing Friends

4 01 2016

Show me a person’s friends and I will show you who that person is or who they will soon be.

One of my first opportunities to teach after I got out of school was in my church’s 6th grade class.  I taught a lesson similar to this lesson to them every year.  Why?  Because no matter our age – Choosing our friends is a critical decisions for the direction of our life.

You said CHOOSING our friends – Yep – It can be a conscience choice and sometimes a God given opportunity.  If we don’t do the choosing and following of God’s plan, we have relationships that just happen.  This often doesn’t end well.

The Bible is an amazing book.  Believe it or not the Bible is not silent on the issue of friendship.  In fact it gives us two glaring contrasts within the same family.  Let me recount both accounts and then we’ll make some applications for our lives.  Let’s mention them chronologically.

1 Samuel 18:1-4; 19:1-7 – Here we have the account of King Saul’s son, Jonathan, and David.  We find Jonathan’s heart is knit to David to the point of sacrificing and giving to his friend for his betterment and safety.

Next, David is now king and the next generation has grown and we find David’s firstborn son, Amnon.

2 Samuel 13:1-5 – Amnon is infatuated with his half-sister.  His “friend”, Jonadab, convinces Amnon to subtly get his half-sister alone and force himself on her.

Here we see the difference between a healthy & unhealthy friendship.  Note in 2 Samuel 13 that Amnon is lusting after his half-sister and knows that it is wrong, but he isn’t doing thing about it.  Then in Vs. 3 we read the factor that destroyed Amnon’s life – “But Amnon had a friend”.  The Bible calls Jonadab “a very subtil man”.  This description is only used three times in the Bible – the snake that deceived Eve, the strange woman in Proverbs & Jonadab.  That is not good company to keep.  He was sneaky and in the shadows.

I realize that Amnon & Jonadab were cousins, but we need realize we get to choose how much we allow someone to influence us.  We are what are friends are & Amnon became sneaky.  If you want to be something in your life, then make friends with that crowd.

  • As a teen – party scene, drug scene – find that set of friends
    • Disobedient to parents – hang out with that group, already know everything and are full of pride
    • Disobedient to God – friends that never open the Bible, never pray, never get involved with their youth events – I can show you your path of life.
  • It doesn’t change for adults is just becomes less obvious.
    • Dave Ramsey even reports that our friends even affect our income level. He said the majority of people make within $10K of their group of friends and can change as we change friends.

Amnon had a friend – What kind of friends do you have?

I’m going to go over some godly principles in a moment, but let me first say mention to you that are parents and grandparents.

  1. Choose your friends wisely for more than just yourself.

What do I mean by that?  Your friends not only affect your life, but they affect your children’s & grandchildren’s lives.  Everyone here can remember the friends of your parents.  They become like family and they influenced you.  They gave you opportunities in life.  They taught you life skills.  You learned how relationships worked by watching your parents and them interact through good and bad times.

Proverbs 27:10 – “Thine own friend, and thy father’s friend, forsake not; neither go into thy brother’s house in the day of thy calamity: for better is a neighbour that is near than a brother far off.”

Your friends become an extension of your influence on your child’s life.

  1. Place the type of people you want your child to become in front of them.

Realizing the impact your friends have on your children, intentionally put the right kind of friends in your child’s life.  Your child will see healthy friendships; people that desire to serve God and that treat each other with mercy and kindness.  They will seek the same kind of friendships.  They will become that type of friend.

My wife and I attempted to be very careful in this matter.  We have very few friends our age.  We have friends younger and older. I’m much more concerned about a person’s character and desire to serve God than I am with their age.

It sometimes means that friendships have to be avoided or let go for the health of your family. (Explain to your child & teen why the decision was made)

God tells us the ultimate affect is Prov. 27:17 – “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”

We want our friendships to sharpen us just as 2 pieces of metal cross paths sharpen each other, our friendships make us better than we could be by ourselves.  However, when 2 pieces of metal strike into each other the opposite occurs and they dull and gouge into each other – Not a healthy friendship.  That is typically not a friendship at all, but two people using each other resulting in one or both people feeling misused and abused.

 

So how do go about finding a good friend and being a good friend?  Let’s look at the account of Jonathan and David.  In 1 Samuel 18:1 we’re told that “the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David”.  David didn’t seek this friendship, but God had a purpose for this friendship and placed Jonathan in David’s life.  I’ve prayed from my kid’s birth that God would put the right people in their life and remove the wrong people for that time.

Jonathan became the perfect friend to David in 3 areas.

  1. He was trustworthy – 1 Samuel 19:1-7

Jonathan was a trustworthy friend – Their conversations were just their conversations.  He wasn’t a friend to gain information, but kept things to himself.  Prov. 11:13 – “A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.”

A trustworthy friend is faithful in keeping information and defending a friend if they’re present or not.  If we’re not trustworthy as a friend, our conversations and experiences will never go beyond the weather, sports and our hobbies. (1 inch deep)  Can you be trusted?  Can the people you call “friends” be trusted?

  1. He was loving and caring – 1 Samuel 20

Jonathan was truthful to David even though he knew it would hurt.  We need to be a friend that will lovingly tell our friends when they are doing wrong and we need friends that will do the same.  Only through this will we be made stronger and wiser (Iron sharpening iron).  God will send people into your life to help develop you and help you through times of need or times of growth. He will also send you to do the same.  This is why it is important to choose Christian friends that are serving God because they are shaping us.

Is God sending you to be a friend in someone’s life?

  1. He was self-sacrificing – 1 Samuel 18:1-4

This is the hardest quality to be and to find in a friend.  Jonathan took this poor farm boy from Bethlehem and let him live in the palace, gave him his royal clothes and most importantly gave him his life’s dream – the throne.  I don’t have a throne to give my friends, but I do have something valuable to sacrifice for them.  The greatest thing we can give a person is worth more than anything we could buy – It is our TIME!  TIME is the one thing that once it is used can never be regained.

Ask yourself

  • Do I give time to my friends?
  • Do I help work for my friends?
  • Do I give to my friends in need?
  • Do I support my friends when they are going through a rough time? (or is it time to hang out with someone that’s more fun)
  • Do I try to help a friend when they have gotten off track?
  • Then ask – Do the friends I have do these things for me? Are they friends that God wants me to have?

To finish, let’s ask “How do I get good friends?”  I know the characteristics that I need and that I want in a friend, but how do I find them?

  1. Pray for friends
  2. Get acquainted – Go to the right crowd and strike up conversations. Different personalities will gel with yours.
  3. Serve with them – In today’s world of “networking” to know people in the right place creates nothing more than acquaintances.  When you serve with people you have more in common, people in common, a common cause.
  1. Fight side by side – Fighting is more than serving. It’s battling through spiritual battles together.  Being together as you see God work – ministry leaders, mission work, weekly visitation, any ministry where you get involved in people’s lives and allow God to work through you.  This is where hearts become knit together

Realize that where your heart is, is where you will be.  If you decide to fill your life with non-Christian friends – that’s where your heart will be.  If you decide to fill your life with Christian friends that casually serve the Lord – that’s where your heart will be.  If you decide to fill your life with Christian friends that want to be used to impact their world for Christ – You guessed it – that’s where your heart will be.

May we always be aware of who is influencing our lives.

If you’ve read this and you’re still struggling and longing for friendship, let me remind you of one the greatest treasures we have a Christians – A constant friend in Jesus that is with us in times when no one else can be there.

Prov. 18:24 – “…and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”

John 15:13 – “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

We have a permanent friend – Try Jesus!
He’s more than the Savior – He’s always there!

 





Why Doesn’t God Destroy Satan

8 12 2015

In the class I teach we’ve been in a series on questions posed by those in attendance.  I found this week’s question very interesting.

“Why Doesn’t God Just Kill Satan and Get It Over With?  He Is God After All.”

This is a great question in my opinion for 2 reasons.

  1. It tells us about the character of God.
  2. It reveals something about the character of man.

Why doesn’t God destroy Satan and remove him from the picture.

God is all-powerful, so we know that He has the ability to destroy Satan.
Jesus instructed us to pray in the model pray to pray “lead us not into temptation” and one way to do that would be to remove this major stumbling block.

So why does Satan remain?  There are several reasons, let’s discuss 3 of them.

First, what do we know of Satan’s history?

Ezekiel 28:14, 15, 17
Isaiah 14:12-15

We see that Satan was one of the most beautiful, high-ranking angels until his pride over took him.  Other scripture tells us that his revolt took down 1/3 of the angels with him.

He now is the great tempter of man.  He believed his wisdom was above God’s, yet even when he thought he was destroying Jesus at Calvary, he simply was fulfilling God’s plan of redemption for man.

He roams the earth today destroying and laying snares for men.  Satan’s demise will culminate in two times.

  • First, during the great tribulation as he sets up his unholy trinity of the false prophet, anti-christ and himself.
    • At the battle of Armageddon, Jesus will defeat him and he will be placed in the bottomless pit for 1000 years.
  • Second, after the 1000 year earthly reign of Jesus, Satan will be loosed for a short period to deceive those born during that time.
    • A second uprising will occur and Satan will be thrown for eternity into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:10)

So, that’s the brief history of Satan – Why go through all of this if he could be destroyed now?

  1. God wants us to follow and serve out of love.

Satan was taken by pride thinking that his given-wisdom was greater than God.  He lead a revolt that was started based off questioning God.  His name means “the accuser”.  Many of the encounters that we read about show him accusing either God to man or man to God.  Our very first encounter in Gen. 3 with Eve shows him accusing God from keeping something from Adam and Eve.

We are told that “God is love”. His grace, mercy and love are significant attributes of our Heavenly Father.  God wants us to worship Him out of love, not out of fear of destruction.  If after accusing God, Satan was destroyed, the attributes of God would not have been seen to such a degree.

Did God have the right to destroy him? Definitely, but God chose to allow His character be untarnished.  The best way to answer Satan’s rebellion was to let God’s way be seen as the best way.

  1. The glory of God will be revealed more vividly.

“There is more glory that will come to Jesus Christ by his suffering to destroy Satan than by powerfully shooting Satan in the head. And there is more glory that will come to Jesus Christ by our sharing in the sufferings of Christ—holding onto his supreme value—than if we had been able to say, “Satan, Depart!” and never have another problem.  And I think the reason for that—this is my ultimate final answer—is that the glory of God and Christ shines more brightly when we are seen to be supremely satisfied in Christ in spite of Satan’s torments, rather than if we had his torments removed and liked Jesus because of it.  It’s when you love Jesus in spite of Satan’s torments and through them that his glory shines most brightly, rather than when we have life made easier for us by Satan’s removal and we like Jesus because of it.” J. Piper

You say I don’t agree with that plan. This is one of those areas where God’s ways and plans are beyond us.  It’s not how we might do it, but our wisdom pales in comparisons to God’s.  And just as Satan thought his wisdom was greater than God’s, he was proven to be wrong. When we start down that path we are no different.

This point makes more sense when we connect it to our final point.

  1. Without Satan there is still evil in the world.

Satan didn’t create evil. Evil exists within us.  Deut 30:15 – “See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil.”  Evil is when men sin. We allow evil deeds to be done every time we sin.  Satan helps bring that realization of sin to a head.  Evil causes Christians to seek God to rely on His strength and grow in our relationship with Him.

The point here is, even if God threw Satan into the lake of fire today we would still live a world that contains evil due to fallen man’s condition.  A condition that can only be remedied by a relationship with Jesus Christ.  It can only continue to be helped by seeking God daily for strength as it matures us.





What Makes Your Denomination Right?

1 12 2015

We’ve been looking as questions posed by class members and we tackled this one a couple weeks ago.​

What makes your denomination right?
What makes the Baptist denomination right?
Most Baptist historians will go back to the fact that we are actually not a protestant church.  Meaning we did not form out of a “protest” from the Catholic church, but that some form of the Baptist faith has always been around.  They would say we hold to the principles of the early church, before the hierarchy of the Catholic church dominated Europe and Christendom.  We don’t have time to look at the history of that today, but I would agree with that to an extent.  Today’s Baptist faith seems to be a mix of the original church and has pieces of the protestant movement as well.

That’s not overly important, but in answering today’s question I would first say, watch our loyalties.  Loyalty is important, but is should first be to God, His Word, and His Church.  Only then do we look at denominations.  Denomination has to take a back seat.  Love the Lord thy God with all they heart, soul, body and mind.

What do I mean that denomination has to take a back seat?  It means that when a denomination makes a move away from the Bible, the Bible wins, not the denomination.

  • A person that has become overly loyal to the denomination becomes like a person that votes for a political party even though they’ve left their values.
  • This has resulted in the moral decline of the church body in several denominations and the weakening of the church’s witness.

 

So, I think there are several reasons the Baptist denomination is right.

 

  1. Baptist Distinctives (list taken from other source, with last added by me)

B (Biblical Authority): God’s Word is our final authority in all matters of faith and practice. As the inspired, inerrant, and preserved Word of God, it bears the absolute authority of God Himself. No human opinion or church decree can usurp the teachings of Scripture. Whatever the Bible dictates, we, as Baptists accept as true. (2 Peter 1:20-21, 2 Timothy 3:15-17, 1 Thessalonians 2:13, Psalm 12:6-7, 119:128)

A (Autonomy of the Local Church): The local church is an independent body accountable to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Head of the church. The church is autonomous, or self-governing. No religious “hierarchy” outside the local church may dictate a church’s beliefs or practices. (Colossians 1:18, Ephesians 3:21, 1 Corinthians 11:3, 12:12)

P (Priesthood of the Believer): Every believer is a priest of God and may enter into His presence in prayer directly through our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ. No other mediator is needed between God and His people. (1 Peter 2:9, Hebrews 4:14-16, 1 Timothy 2:5)

T (Two Ordinances): The local church must keep the ordinances as delivered to the apostles in the New Testament: (1) Baptism by immersion for believers who have evidenced “fruit meet for repentance” picturing the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ and giving entrance for the believer into the local church body. (2) The Lord’s Supper which commemorates Christ’s sacrificial death for our sins. Participants of the Lord’s Supper are born again, baptized believer’s of the local church body. (Mark 16:15-16, Luke 3:7- 8, Acts 8:12, 1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 1 Corinthians 11:2, 23-32)

I (Individual Soul Liberty): Every person, whether saved or unsaved, has the liberty to choose what he believes about God. Baptists have always been opposed to religious persecution. This liberty, however, does not exempt one from responsibility to the Word of God or from accountability to God Himself. (Romans 14:5,12; 2 Corinthians 4:2, Titus 1:9)

S (Saved, Baptized Church Membership): Every member of a Baptist church must be a born-again believer who has been subsequently baptized by immersion upon evidence of salvation and that by public profession within the local body.

T (Two Offices): Baptists have maintained only two offices in the local church as set forth in the New Testament: Pastor and deacon. The terms “pastor”, “elder”, and “bishop” or “overseer” all refer to the same office. (1 Timothy 3:1,10; 1 Peter 5:1,5; )

S (Separation of Church and State): God has established both the church and the civil government, giving each its own distinct jurisdiction. No church or government should control each other, nor should there be any alliance between them. Believer’s can and should promote righteousness in all areas of living, government included. (Romans 13:1- 7, Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 5:29, Proverbs 14:35, 29:2)

Eternal Security:  Once saved always saved
It must be noted that these distinctives have stood for centuries, but with the rise of non-denominational church you’ll find that many of them hold to this set of beliefs.

  • Many Baptist churches have simply taken the Baptist moniker off of the church name.
  • Most non-denom churches were birthed from some background and those doctrinal values follow.
    • Ex.  Andy Stanley’s church in Atlanta – He grew up and trained in Baptist schools, he just wanted to break from traditions, but not doctrine.

 

  1. Bible vs. Man – I mentioned this a little bit earlier

Who wins?  When the Bible and man disagree, who wins the argument?

When man wins, man becomes the standard and not God.

 

Who Wins

In the Catholic church we find that “Man wins” when there is a conflict between God and man.

In the Baptist church “God wins” when there is a conflict between God and man.  The Bible is the standard.

This doesn’t mean we don’t have differences of opinion and all have to think alike on topics that are vague, but when it comes to doctrine it’s set.

 

  1. Churches plant churches

Outside of the original churches planted by the apostles and those they trained, a person doesn’t just willy nilly decide they’re going to plant a church.  Most Baptist believe that churches are to help plant other churches.  Now I’m not a Baptist brider, I’m not talking extremes, but it is typically held that the church ordains men to go and then supports them as they go to start new churches.

Yet note, they do all of this without the need of national hierarchy that watches over and forces churches to do certain thing.  The new churches remain autonomous local churches.

 

  1. Evangelism

The Baptist church focuses on evangelism through local outreach and foreign missions.  If you were to go into most Baptist churches, you will find 25% or more of their budget set aside for missions, bus ministries, VBS, Upward type ministries to spread the Gospel into their community and throughout the world.

Many denominations have pointed toward social justice type activities. They’ve taken their eye off the original purpose of discipleship and evangelism.  Our goal isn’t to make good citizens, but to show people a way to a real relationship with God.  When we find salvation through Jesus Christ and build our relationship with God it affects how we live in every area of life.

There are probably other areas, but these are the big ones that make the Baptist denomination the choice for me.  And note, when it ceases to follow the Bible, then it will be time to move on.

 





Substance of Faith

30 12 2014

Let’s finish the year looking at faith.

Word – FAITH – Used only twice in the Old Testament, but nearly 500 times in the New Testament.

OT – contains the examples of faith

NT – contains the doctrine of faith

OT Faith – Confidence in the faithfulness of God and a consequent loving obedience to His will as shown by men such as Noah, Joseph, Moses, etc.

NT Faith – Trust in the person of Jesus Christ – His teaching, His redemptive power

Definition – FAITH – Hebrew 11:1 shows us two things.

  1. Faith is the substanceof things hoped for.  Faith is what our hope is standing on.  Hope and Faith are linked, so that whenever either is lost it can kill.
  2. Faith is the evidenceof things not seen.  Faith is designed to serve as the sight for our soul.

Types – FAITH – There are three main types of faith.

  1. Everyday Faith – We can’t live without demonstrating faith is something (i.e. chair, car, plane, etc.)
  2. Saving Faith – Salvation from placing faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ.
  3. Living Faith (hardest of all for us)
  4. Faith in the Word of God
  5. Faith in the Promises of God
  6. Faith in the faithfulness of God Himself

Finally note the distinction between “belief” and “faith”.  It is possible to believe in something without having faith in it.  Many believe in who Jesus Christ is, but they haven’t placed their in Him.

As we enter the new year allow your faith to be a living faith as you follow God’s leadership.





Songs of Degrees – Lesson 2

12 11 2014

It’s been a while since my last post.  This week let’s look at the 2nd set of Songs of Degrees with a look at Psalms 124 & 125.

Remember that each triad of the Songs of Degrees follow that path of Trouble, Trust, Triumph.

Psalm 124 was written by David during one of his many times of escape, but King Hezekiah used it to describe his scenario as well.

Vs. 1 & 2 – The psalmist begins – “If it had not been the Lord”.  He repeats that phrase twice – specifically looking at the word “IF”.

Here he showed his trust in God.  “IF” – Without the Lord he realized there was no hope against the Assyrian enemy.  On the flip side that means Assyria had no hope against Jerusalem with God of Hezekiah’s side.  Often when things are going wrong we attempt to fix them ourselves, however, there are many times God has put us in a scenario that we can only say, “If it had not been the Lord.”

When we take things into our own hands that God meant to show His saving hand we destroy ministry and witnessing opportunities.  For example, when Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter pulled out a sword and chopped off Malcus’ ear.  God had it under control – He had a purpose for the arrest.  John Lennox said that Peter cut off Malcus’ ear literally and figuratively with his actions.  He stopped Malcus from hearing God.  May we pray that God would help us know when to step in and when to wait on Him.

Vs. 3 – 5 – The psalmist figuratively showed how God protected them.  He protected them from being swallowed up and drowned.

The psalmist then ended the chapter by blessing the Lord for a way of escape.  Vs. 8 – “Our hope is in the name of the Lord” (returning to the thought of Vs. 1).

Psalm 125 – Hezekiah moved from Trust to Triumph

Vs. 1 & 2 – He declared their triumph because they were safe with and in God.

Vs. 1 – Like Zion – Zion is Jerusalem, but there is a specific section of bedrock within Jerusalem called Zion that is immovable.  Our trust in the Lord gives us an immovability.

Vs. 2 – The Mountains – God’s protection is like the mountains that surround Zion.  There is a circle of protection around each believer.  Remember back to Job how God had a circle around him that no one could cross.  God has drawn that circle around each of us and we shall never perish.  We’re safe in our position with God, but Vs. 3 & 4 show us that we’re safe in our possessions with God.

Vs. 3a – “shall not rest upon the lot”.  “Rest” means permanence and the psalmists states that there is no permanence of the rod of the wicked on the possessions of the righteous.  We have some eternal and spiritual possessions which cannot be taken even by the greediest of thieves.

However, Vs. 3b shows the concern.  Unless we can keep our permanent possessions in mind we can reach out in sin when our worldly possessions and positions are stolen.  Christians cannot respond like the world when faced with trouble.  We need to respond in love, because we’re secure.  Think of the little Jewish girl that was Naaman’s slave taken in battle.  She pointed him to God instead of retaliation.  Think of Joseph’s response to his brothers after having his life “stolen” from him.  He returned blessing for their dishonesty and spite.

Vs. 4 – “Do good, O Lord, unto those that be good.”  May we always believe that God will be good to His children.  Our trust must rest on Him.

Ps. 37:25 – “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.”