Saturday, July 23, 2011

When Hard Questions Come

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
II Chronicles 8:11-10:19

Now when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon, she cameto Jerusalem to test Solomon with hard questions...and when she came to Solomon, she spoke with him about all that was in her heart. II Chronicles 9:1 (NKJV)

Our job is to make Jesus famous. May the whole world know of His greatness, His grandeur, His majesty. We way to write across the skies: Our God is good!

When we do this, we can expect that the world will come calling. Like the queen of Sheba, the world comes full of questions. Our job is not just to tell the good news but also to meet the world with real answers to hard questions. This is part of the territory.

We cannot dodge the tough issues of life. It is in these challenging areas that the truth of God's Word shines brightest. When the world asks honest questions we must respond with real answers.

Some people are afraid of tough questions, but we need never be afraid. With prayer in our hearts and the Word of God in our hands, we can rise to all challenges.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Glory in the House

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
II Chronicles 4:1-6:11

Indeed it came to pass, when the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord, ... that the house, the house of the Lord was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God. II Chronicles 5:13-14 (NKJV)

The presence of God was so thick you could feel it! It was a cloud -- a shining brilliance filling the air. God Himself came down and inhabited His house. This is surely one of the high points of biblical history.

I must admit. I am envious. I would so love to have stood in that old temple as the glory of God came down. But, I am reminded: we are heirs of an even greater reality - a greater presence. We receive that which is only promised in the Old Testament. THAT IS EXCITING!

How did it happen then? If we can see how it came about then, perhaps we can also unlock how the glory can be released today. The answer is plain. They spoke and worshipped AS ONE. Nothing can stop a united people. When we walk in agreement and our hearts are aimed at heaven, the power of God is released. May this be a reality in our day!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Man of Rest

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
I Chronicles 22:1-23:32

Behold, a son shall be born to you, who shall be a man of rest... I Chronicles 22:9 (NKJV)

God's plans always are fulfilled out of peace and rest. A busied and frenzied spirit cannot carry out God's best plans. Solomon's name means "peace". It is under his rule that the house of God is built.

Throughout Scripture, peace and true rest are at the center of God's will. When we believe God, we come to a place of rest. When we receive His righteousness, peace is imparted.

This does not mean "inactivity". Remember, God's house is BUILT in this rest.

Are you walking in God's rest today?

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Sin of Counting

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
I Chronicles 19:1-21:30

Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel.  I Chronicles 21:1 (NKJV)

The last half of David's life (after the adultery with Bathsheba) was characterized by difficulty.  The last major mis-step of David had to do with numbering Israel.  I have heard preachers and teachers use this passage to say that we should never count the number of people attending our services or participating in our ministries.  They say that David got into trouble for numbering the people, and we will get into trouble with God if we do it, too.

I think this is a misreading of Scripture.  Don't get me wrong.  "Counting" can get into carnal yearning for success or, even worse, betterment in competition with other churches.  I don't think God is pleased with such carnal evaluations.

It is a godly thing to desire to know how many people we are touching -- how many people have met the Lord -- how many people are being ministered to.  It is equivalent to knowing how many sheep are in your flock.  If you don't know how many, how do you know if some are missing -- perhaps getting picked off at the edge of the flock.

So, what was David's sin here?  The parallel passage in II Samuel 24:1 gives us some insight.  There is says David was moved to number Judah and Israel.  Remember, during David's day, all Israel was one nation.  It was only long after David was gone that Judah and Israel split apart.  It is likely that David already knew of growing dissent between these two factions that could ultimately erupt into civil war.  By numbering Israel, David was making an assessment about which side would win in a war.

This is equivalent to figuring out how many people are on the two sides of a church split.  We do this to start lining up how we can manipulate or survive such an eventuality.  This happens all the time in church politics.  AND GOD HATES IT.

God does not want His people to fight.  He wants them to love each other.  David's sin was in that he was sizing up a "church split."  God says, "Don't get into pitting brother against brother."  Seek ways to bring peace instead of figuring out how to survive the battle.  This is the heart of God.  This is also why God dealt so severely with David.  We are called to be peacemakers.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Do It - Don't Do It

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
I Chronicles 16:37-18:17

Then Nathan said to David, "Do all that is in your heart, for God is with you." But it happened that night that the word of God came to Nathan, saying, "Go and tell My servant David, 'Thus says the Lord: "You shall not build Me a house to dwell in.'" I Chronicles 17:2-4 (NKJV)

Nathan spoke quickly and told David to move ahead with plans to build God a house. We should be careful to distinguish between the word of man and the word of God. Nathan was certainly a great man of God, but in these verses he clearly got ahead of God. He spoke out of his own heart.

Later that night as he sought God, he learned that God's plan was NOT what he had told David. Frankly, this shows the greatness of the man of God, Nathan. He was not so stubborn or prideful that he could not hear God correct him.

Imagine how he felt as he returned to tell David the true word of God! At times we speak too quickly. We miss the timing. When this happens, face up to it and get back on track. Don't let pride keep you from finding God's best.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

When We Find We Can't Do It

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
I Chronicles 12:19-14:17

"David was afraid of God that day, saying, 'How can I bring the ark of God to me?'"  I Chronicles 13:12 (NKJV)

God has called us to do the impossible.  He has called us to carry His awesome presence even though we are incredibly frail and faulty human beings.  This task will bring us to the end of ourselves.  That's what happened to David.

He knew that the ark of the covenant should be returned to its rightful place in the Holy Place.  He knew that far too long it had rested in alien territory.  He knew what God wanted.  Unfortunately, he set out initially in his own wisdom -- in his own ingenuity -- in his own plans.  The result was that a man died!  How can such a holy cause bring such tragic results???

In his despair, David cried out telling God how it was impossible for him to fulfill this task.  This is the place to which God wants all of us to come -- the end of ourselves.  In despair, we cry out to God, "I can't do this!!!"  It is at this point that true wisdom is ours.

God showed David the right way to deliver His presence.  The result was an awesome celebration.  So, I say to you today:  "DON'T DESPAIR."  Even though your abilities may be few.  Even though your failures may be many in your own eyes.  God will carry you to your destiny. 

It is all a part of His plan.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Overcoming the Enemy in Your Midst

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
I Chronicles 11:1-12:18

"But the inhabitants of Jebus said to David, 'You shall not come in here!'  Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion (that is, the City of David)."  I Chronicles 11:5 (NKJV)

Right in the middle of God's territory was a stronghold of the enemy.  It was called Jebus.  The inhabitants of this Philistine garrison had one thing to say to the newly crowned King David: "YOU CAN'T COME HERE!" 

That's the wrong thing to say to a warrior.  David certainly had his flaws, but one thing he DID NOT do was live with compromise.  He could not countenance the presence of enemy defiance in the midst of the promised land.

He set a reward for the first man to attack the Jebusites.  He declared war.  He proclaimed "open season" on all who defied God's rule.  As a result, this long-standing enemy stronghold came down.  He renamed this city, and it has become one of the most important in world history:  JERUSALEM.

Remember this: your Jerusalem is first of all a place of battle.  It must be won!  It will not simply wait for you to walk into it.  It is controlled by an enemy who defies you to try.  In order to win your "city" you must declare war.  You must have a certain kind of violence.  This is what Jesus spoke of when He said, "The kingdom advances with violence, and the violent take it by force" (Matt. 11:12).

So, are you violent today, or are you beat down?  The Spirit of the Lord says to you, "Rise up.  Do powerful things today."  God will fight for you as you take your Jerusalem.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Saul's Story

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
I Chronicles 9:1-10:14

"So Saul died for his unfaithfulness which he had committed against the Lord, because he did not keep the word of the Lord, and also because he consulted a medium for guidance." I Chronicles 10:13 (NKJV)

King Saul did three things wrong. For these three, God removed him from the throne. His first mistake was PARTIAL OBEDIENCE. When God told him to thoroughly wipe out the enemies of Israel, he only partially did the job. Secondly, he usurped the office of priest. Samuel took too long in coming to offer sacrifice, and, under pressure, Saul took it on himself to do this priestly function. Lastly, Saul consulted a medium, the witch of Endor.

We can take some positive lessons from Saul's failings. First, BE SURE TO DO ALL THAT GOD SAYS. Ninety percent is not good enough. Go all the way! Second, FUNCTION IN YOUR CALLING. This will often require that you wait on God's timing. Lastly, SEEK ONLY THE LORD for your guidance. Our God is a jealous God.

Saul is a story of unfulfilled potential. At key points, he compromised. We should take stories like his and renew our commitment to walk the high road of the Kingdom of God.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Service of Song

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
I Chronicles 5:18-6:81

"Now these are the men whom David appointed over the service of song in the house of the Lord, after the ark came to rest." I Chronicles 6:31 (NKJV)

Interesting phrase in this verse: "the service of song." it brings up a question: what is the purpose of music and song in the life of the congregation? Far too often, music is viewed as performance or entertainment. We rate the worship based on song selection and personal preferences.

One of David's great strengths was his elevation of the VERTICAL dimension in the life of Israel. He appointed music and song ministers FOR SERVICE upward to God and outward to the people. Their work served as a vital and foundational element in the advancing of God's purposes.

The anointed ministry of music and song is absolutely vital to the effective work of God. Through Spirit-inspired worship, the atmosphere is changed. We enter a higher realm wherein the power of God is freely released.

May we believe and receive this higher dimension in our personal lives and in the church!

Thursday, July 7, 2011


"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
I Chronicles 4:5-5:17

"Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, 'Because I bore him in pain.'"  I Chronicles 4:9 (NKJV)

Several years ago, Bruce Wilkinson wrote and published a small book based on this verse and the one following.  The book was entitled The Prayer of Jabez.  It sold millions of copies and became an instant devotional classic.  The heart of the book is the four requests made by Jabez in verse 10: 1) bless me, 2) enlarge my territory, 3) may God's hand be with me, and 4) keep me from evil.  It is a great little book.

As I read the book, I noted that little is made of the "pain" aspect surrounding Jabez.  The four requests are fantastic, but they come in a context -- the context of Jabez's life. 

He mother named him Jabez which means "He will cause pain."  What a name!  This is probably not a reference to the actual pains of childbirth, but instead to the circumstances surrounding his birth.  Usually, the father named the child in the Old Testament, so we can assume that the father was absent, perhaps dead.  This little passage appears in the midst of lengthy genealogy, but, unlike all other names, it is dropped in with no reference to the father's name. 

Here is a principle: HURT PEOPLE HURT PEOPLE.  People who have been hurt, tend to inflict pain on others.  This is a tactic of our enemy, Satan.  He seeks to injure someone, and then spread that injury to others.  This little boy named Jabez had some very painful things to happen around him when he was very young.

But, that's not the whole story.  He grew to become an HONORABLE man.  When he prayed, his last request was that he NOT PASS ON HIS PAIN TO OTHERS.  He wanted to curse to stop with him!  In my opinion, this is far greater than the other four requests he made.  It took more courage -- more faith.

May we be BLESSING GIVERS and CURSE STOPPERS.  This is an incredible call on every follower of Jesus Christ. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Freedom and Captivity.

"One Year Bible" Old Testament History Passage
II Kings23:31-25:30

"Then Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive the rest of the people who remained in the city and thedefctors who had deserted to the king of Babylon, with the rest of the multitude." II Kings25:11 (NKJV)

Thus ended a long story in God's workings with Judah. They were carried off to captivity in BBylon. God had pled with them for decades on end to return to Him. Yet they had persisted in their idolatry and rebellion.

Several truths come to mind as we consider this story.

1. God's judgments are true. He will not wait forever. Today it is popular to speak of the patience and mercy of God. But we should not forget that His mercy is tempered with truth; His patience will not last forever. He WILL bring judgment.

2. The sad truth of far too many believers is that they follow PARTIALLY. The end result of their path is not freedom but slavery. God wants His people free. But, that freedom must be to follow Him fully, or it will result in greater slavery.

3. If God's people do not allow Him to rule them, He will allow the world to take charge. Babylon is not God's highest plan. He wants us to be "a kingdom of priests." But if we will not come under His sovereign rule, He will turn us over to others to discipline us. Far better to willingly yield our hearts now.

We were made for freedom. We must remember that true freedom is only in Christ.