Monday, May 31, 2010


2 Kings 23:25
Now before him there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses; nor after him did any arise like him.

Josiah's legacy was not related to his military might, his economic guidance, his domestic stability or his international policy. He was known for loving and obeying the Lord with all his heart, soul and strength. History however proves that all the rest of these fell into place during his reign.
What will my legacy be?... a big family, sound financial planning, a healthy ministry, many friends... or that I loved and obeyed the Lord with all my heart, soul and strength?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Wrecked by God's Word

2 Kings 22:11
Now it happened, when the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, that he tore his clothes.

King Josiah was wrecked by the Word of God. When he heard it he didn't respond in thoughtful contemplation, heartfelt meditation or even pious application; but complete and total conviction. When the Truth of God and the sin of man meet in a heart that is soft and receptive toward God there is only one possible response - to be wrecked. This response is only possible with a soft and tender heart focused on God (vs. 19). If I am not wrecked by God's truth, my heart is not in the right condition.
So how do I respond to the Word of God? Do I chew on it, mull it over and choke it down... or do I let it chew on me, work me over and bring me to my knees? Does it lead me to contemplation or conviction? If I am anything less than wrecked by God's truth... my heart is not in the right place.

Father - soften my heart to Your truth. Let it be wrecked by Your Word and let my encounter with it humble me and change me. Teach me to hear it, receive it and respond appropriately to Your Holy Word. Amen.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

How do I pray?

2 Kings 19:19
Now therefore, O LORD our God, I pray, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the LORD God, You alone.”

As Senecharib, king of Assyria, taunts the kings men, deters the faith of Judah and defiles the name of the living God, King Hezekiah prays not to preserve his own name, agenda or kingdom, but God's.
When I pray, do I pray to preserve my own name, agenda and kingdom? Am I more concerned with my own reputation, preservation and exaltation or the Lords?
Am I willing to pray for His name and accept whatever the cost?

Lord - teach me to pray unselfishly for Your name, Your agenda and Your Kingdom. Teach me to pray in accordance with Your will. Fill me with a desire and passion to see Your name lifted up. May You be honored by what I pray. Amen.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

to fear the Lord

2 Kings 17:33
They (the new inhabitants of Israel) feared the LORD, yet served their own gods—according to the rituals of the nations from among whom they were carried away.

The new inhabitants of Israel understood the power and presence of the God of Israel and feared Him (2 K 17:25-26). Yet they did not fear the Lord enough to put away their false gods and idolatry. So what does it mean to truly fear the Lord?
To fear the Lord is not simply an academic assertion that God is holy or powerful or just or righteously vengeful. It is more than an emotional fear of consequences or the judgment of God. It is more than actions of appeasement to another God. (When you worship a false God, one is just as legitimate as another - 2 Kings 17:24.)
To fear the Lord is to completely change my position, stance and view of God. My position should be one of complete obedience to God alone, turning my back on everything of this world. My stance should be one of complete humility, bowing before Him and submitting only to His will. My view should be one of complete adoration and exaltation; a face to face relationship with Him. To fear the Lord is a complete revolution of who I am; to turn from (and leave behind) my own rituals, traditions, human nature and all that is carnally me and embrace all that is divinely Him.

Father - teach me to fear You. Let me turn my back on all that is carnally me and whatever is of this world and let me find my identity fully in You. Amen.

Monday, May 24, 2010

high places

2 Kings 15:34-35
He (Jotham) did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father Uzziah had done. 35 The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there. Jotham rebuilt the Upper Gate of the temple of the LORD.

With all the good that Jotham did in his life and reign, his refusal to remove sin would still be his headline and his contribution to God's house only a footnote. Yes, he did take God and His Temple seriously (yet never actually entered the Temple; 2 Chron. 27:2)... however he did not take sin seriously enough. Jotham failed to understand the priority and importance of total purity before the Lord. For Jotham, the high places were just too far away or too difficult to tare down or simply not worth the effort. 2 Chronicles 27 seems to suggest that Jotham was so busy building up that he failed to tare down what was evil. In the end, this would be his legacy, a good man that let sin linger. A king who allowed sin to invade and take his people captive while he fought off all human threats. (Ironically, God promised to take care of all other threats if the king was diligent to defeat sin within the country.)
Am I like Jotham? Have I been diligent to build up while failing to tare down sin? Have I let sin linger in my life, my home or my family? Have I taken certain sin lightly and failed to understand the priority and importance of perfect purity?

Father - open my eyes to the sin in my life and give me the strength, courage and focus to remove it. Let me be diligent to not only build up for You, but also to tare down for You as well. Let my legacy be on of purity and honor to my King. Amen.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Ignorance and sin

2 Kings 12:2-3
Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all the years Jehoiada the priest instructed him. 3 The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there.

While Joash may have done what was right and avoided egregious sin in his own life, he failed to root out the sin of his people. He ignored evil and allowed wickedness to persist. It may have been out of fear or laziness or that he simply didn't feel it was all that important; after all, he did tear down the alters and places of Baal. Yet, this ignorance did come back to eventually destroy him. When Jehoiada, his wise, godly council died, there was nobody else left to fill his role but men who consented to such false worship at these high places. So what lesson do we learn from Joash's ignorance of sin?
Sin is serious and must be removed from both within us and around us. The sin of the company we keep will eventually become our own (1 Cor. 15:33). Wise council does not come from those who are ambivalent or turn a blind eye toward sin.
Have I done everything I can to root out the sin in my own life and the lives of those around me? Do I take the initiative to turn sinners from their ways and steer those around me back toward God (James 5:20)? Have I allowed anything to continue in my family or my ministry that would not honor God or that will eventually lead to my dishonor?

God, give me eyes to see sin and to identify what does not honor You. Give me courage and wisdom to know how to remove it. Give me self control to do what is right in Your eyes always. Amen.

Monday, May 17, 2010

A King in the house of a King...

2 Kings 11:3 & 21
So he (Jehoash) was hidden with her in the house of the LORD for six years, while Athaliah reigned over the land.... Jehoash was seven years old when he became king.

Scripture tells us that Jehoash (or Joash) was a righteous king who honored the Lord and did was was right in the sight of the Lord (2 Kings 12:2). He even restored the Temple and Temple practices in Jerusalem (2 Kings 12:7, 2 Chron. 24:4). This righteous reign can only be attributed to the fact that Joash was raised in the house of the Lord where he was reared to know and observe the commands of the Lord. He listened to the law read aloud, he practiced daily prayer, he may have participated in Temple rituals such as burning incense or sacrifice. This daily encounter with the way of the Lord is also the reason why he was ready to reign at seven years old. Not many kings reared in a palace reign in righteousness, yet a king reared in righteousness will receive a palace.
In thinking of my children, whatever they choose to do with their lives will be blessed if they are raised in the House of the Lord to know and observe all of His ways. If they hear the Word of God daily, if they practice prayer with our family, if they join in our family practices and learn to serve and sacrifice for others... my children will grow up to do what is right in the sight of the Lord and to honor Him in what they do (Prov. 22:6). The question for me is this; in what type of environment are my children being raised? Does my house reflect the commands and character of the Lord? Would a guest in my house feel as through he or she was in the house of the Lord? Do all the practices in my home bring glory to God (Eph. 6:4)?

Father, let my house be honoring to You. Let my children grow up to know your Word, to practice prayer and to live in Your ways. Help me to make my home Your house so that they may grow up to walk with You always. Amen

Friday, May 14, 2010

Patient and Merciful God

2 Kings 8:19
Nevertheless, for the sake of his servant David, the LORD was not willing to destroy Judah. He had promised to maintain a lamp for David and his descendants forever.

Oh how patient and merciful is our God!
Despite Jehoram's infidelity and wickedness, God remained faithful to his promise and his plan to provide a light to the world through the throne of David (2 Sam 7:12-16; 1 Kings 15:4). That light would one day be revealed as Jesus Christ, God's only Son, in the flesh (John 1:1-14).
Not even the wickedness of a king could turn God away from His promise and His plan.
This should not lead us to believe that God takes sin lightly. Instead, He takes His Word seriously. The promises of God and the gifts of God are certain, they are irrevocable (Rom. 11:28-32). His faithfulness to Israel, despite their sin, means a blessing to the world - that we too may receive this great light! (Rom. 11:1-5).
Oh how patient and merciful is our God! Amen!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Spiritual Eyes

2 Kings 6:16-17
So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 And Elisha prayed, and said, “LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

Far too often our eyes focus on the physical fears of life. Yet God is always working and if we only refocus the lenses of our hearts and minds onto spiritual things, we would not fear.
What an amazing prayer! "Lord, open my eyes that I may see."
When we do see the spiritual, intangible and powerful reality behind our physical world, like Elisha, we have peace, comfort, security, confidence, grace, hope, and the privilege of passing these onto others as we pray for and teach them to have spiritual eyes.

Lord, Open my eyes so that I may see Your hand of provision, protection and power in my life. Open my eyes so that I may pass on your peace, comfort, confidence, grace and hope. Amen.

This reminds me of the old Hymn by Clara H. Scott, "Open my eyes that I may see"

Open my eyes, that I may see
glimpses of truth thou hast for me;
place in my hands the wonderful key
that shall unclasp and set me free.
Silently now I wait for thee,
ready, my God, thy will to see.
Open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit divine!

Open my ears, that I may hear
voices of truth thou sendest clear;
and while the wavenotes fall on my ear,
everything false will disappear.
Silently now I wait for thee,
ready, my God, thy will to see.
Open my ears, illumine me, Spirit divine!

Open my mouth, and let me bear
gladly the warm truth everywhere;
open my heart and let me prepare
love with thy children thus to share.
Silently now I wait for thee,
ready, my God, thy will to see.
Open my heart, illumine me, Spirit divine!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

2 Kings 3:17-18
For this is what the LORD says: You will see neither wind nor rain, yet this valley will be filled with water, and you, your cattle and your other animals will drink. This is an easy thing in the eyes of the LORD; he will also hand Moab over to you.

So often the things that we see as difficult or impossible are really easy in the eyes of the Lord. The kings of Israel, Judah and Edom thought that their lack of water meant certain destruction for them and their armies. Yet God had a different plan.
Sometime the only thing that stands between us and an unimaginable miracle is our ask. We have not because we ask not, (Js. 4:2).
What is even more inspiring about God's answer through Elisha is that what seems impossible for us is not only possible, but "easy" in the eyes of the Lord. Not only was the request simple in that it took no effort at all, but it also took little thought or consideration. Israel and Judah were God's people and Jehoshaphat had honored the Lord. God delights to bless His obedient children.

Psalm 34:17
The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.

Psalm 37:23
If the LORD delights in a man's way, he makes his steps firm

Psalm 69:33
The LORD hears the needy and does not despise his captive people.

Psalm 147:11
the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.

Oh yea, and as if providing water was not enough, God promises the kings that he would also defeat Moab. We ask for so little when God is so ready to give so much more than we could ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20).

So why not ask? Why not ask more? Why not expect, hope, believe, trust?
For God, what we ask is an "easy thing."

God - expand my faith and teach me to turn to You in everything. Let nothing be too big or too small to bring before You. Let me see Your power and grace through answered prayer. Amen.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Elisha's double portion

2 Kings 2:9
When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, "Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?""Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit," Elisha replied.
When Elisha asked Elijah for a double portion of his spirit, he wasn't asking for more power or a wider ministry or greater impact (altho0ugh the Bible does record twice as many miracles for Elisha). Instead, like the double portion of the estate given to the oldest and primary heir in a family, Elisha was asking to receive the mantle of Elijah's ministry (2:14) and to continue in his footsteps. Elisha was asking to be Elijah's successor in influencing Israel.
In affirmation of God's hand of blessing and the double portion of God's favor, Elisha immediately crosses back over the Jordan river and enters Jericho to perform a miracle. Here, Elisha turns a bitter and dry well into a fresh healthy well (2:19-22). The picture below is the exact well in Jericho that archeologist have uncovered and believe may be Elisha's well.In fact, the story was such a high point in the city of Jericho that even today there is a well and fountain commemorating God's blessing through Elisha that day.
Furthermore, God affirms Elijah's spirit by assisting him with a pack of disrespectful youth. I'll let you read the story in 2 Kings 2:23-24; it's crazy!

The whole story of Elisha and Elijah makes me ask myself a few questions.
  • Who am I following? Is there a leader in Christ's church that I would desire a double portion of? I need to find such men, walk close to them and learn from them.
  • Who is following me? There were over 50 prophets that followed Elijah in Jericho alone and thousands around Israel. How did Elijah know who to spend his time with and pass his ministry onto? Who does God want me to train and encourage and pass ministry along to?
  • How is my walk? Would anyone really want a double portion of the ministry I will one day leave behind? Is my walk faithful and Godly enough to build on? Would anyone really want to pick up my mantle?
Father - Make me more like Elisha, that I may humbly know who to follow. Make me more like Elijah, that I may be followed. Lay Your hand of blessing and affirmation upon me that others may follow in my footsteps and I follow in Yours. Amen.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Fear and Joy

Matthew 28:8
"So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word."

I understand why Mary and Mary would be filled with great joy at the realization of the resurrection of Jesus. I am filled with Joy that my Savior lives. However, it is more difficult to understand why they would be filled with fear. The word used here is "phobo." At times this is translated as terror. It's the same word used to describe the guards who shook with fear and the disciples who hid for fear of the Jews. It's not as simple as respect or reverence (as some translate fear) but fright and even dread. Why would his followers be filled with fear when their Savior had risen, defeated death and his enemies, affirmed his identity and demonstrated such power?
For these followers, the resurrection was a frightening reality. According to the guards, they were witnesses to the conspiracy of the tomb (4). They were heralds for the angels to relay the message to the others (7). They were Jewish women boldly addressing Roman, Jewish, municipal and spiritual authorities. Who would listen to their story, much less receive it? They were afraid because they fully understood the implications of the resurrection. They understood the responsibility that accompanied such a truth. They knew that from that moment on, life would not be the same, it would not fit back into their neat and simple box of reality and predictability as before. They embraced the struggle that lay ahead and were fully prepared to pay the cost. In response, their risen Savior met them and eased their fears, calling them to "rejoice" and "fear not."
Why do I not fear more? Have I fully perceived the implications of the resurrection? Do I live with the constant knowledge of my calling to be a witness and a herald of the truth I possess? Am I willing and prepared to face a hostile world with the life-changing message of the empty tomb?... or do I simply take joy in the resurrection and leave the hard part for others?

Father, fill me with fear and fortitude to be the witness you have called me to be. Amen.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Irony at the cross

Matthew 27:32-37
Now as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. Him they compelled to bear His cross. 33 And when they had come to a place called Golgotha, that is to say, Place of a Skull, 34 they gave Him sour wine mingled with gall to drink. But when He had tasted it, He would not drink.
35 Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet:
“ They divided My garments among them,
And for My clothing they cast lots.”
36 Sitting down, they kept watch over Him there. 37 And they put up over His head the accusation written against Him:

In these few verses we find foreigners, strangers, soldiers and enemies distorting what Christ invited all to freely do. Simon, if he knew Jesus, would not have had to be "compelled" to carry his cross, he would have gladly took up his cross and followed Jesus (Mt. 16:24). If the soldiers truly knew that "this was the Son of God" (27:54) before His death, they might not have gambled for His garments but instead, willingly and humbly been robed in Christ and His righteousness (Mt. 11:28, Gal 3:27). Instead of making mocking accusations (be they true) about the innocent Savior of the world, they would have proclaimed his victory and the salvation at hand (Mt. 10:27).To truly know Jesus means embracing his every invitation, uniting with him in every way, proclaiming his every truth and doing so willingly. There is no compulsion, no gambling, no mistakes or accidents - the invitation is free and clear. If I know Jesus, I will follow Him wholeheartedly in every way. I will bear His cross. I will put on His nature (Col. 3:12-14). I will proclaim His truth. Amen.(This is one of the stations of the cross along the Via Dolarosa commemorating Simon bearing Jesus cross.)
(This etching from a street in Sepphoria shows a common game played in the 1st century that might have been played to win Jesus' garments.)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Garden Wake-up Call

Matthew 26:36-38
"Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." 37He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me."
The word Gethsemane means "olive press." The place where Jesus often took his disciples to get away and pray was not a place of trees and flowers, but more of industrial garden of stones, presses and tools. It was here that olives would be pressed under heavy stones in a three fold process.It was here in the garden, beside the great weights of the olives presses, that Jesus experienced the weight of the sin of the world being pressed upon him. It was here in the garden that the cup of suffering and God's wrath would be poured out upon him. Three times he invited his disciples to watch and pray with him and three times they slept (26:44-45). According to Luke's account of this garden experience, Jesus prayers in agony caused him to sweat blood (22:45), yet it was here that He found strength and was ministered to.
(I find it interesting and encouraging when traveling through Israel to find these little red flowers on the ground where Jesus suffered his toughest trials. This is in the garden of Gethsemane.)

Yet without prayer, without pouring out our hearts and souls to God, we find no strength and we fail each test laid before us. Peter, who Jesus personally woke up each time, was not only defeated by his weariness, but also by three simple questions by two young girl and a stranger in the crowd at Caiaphas house (Mt. 26:75).(The church of St. Peter and the Rooster's Crow)

Peter did not heed Jesus wake-up call. He did not take advantage of the way of escape or the strengthening of God promised in 1 Corinthians 10:13. We should not be surprised by testing or trial, it is common to all who claim Christ. Instead, we should watch and pray and listen to the voice of our Savior as He calls us to join Him; both in prayer and in suffering. It is here that we find strength, courage and victory. Notice, the words of verse 46 (Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!") are not the words of a man defeated, but of one determined to overcome.
Do I watch and pray? Do I answer Jesus' wake-up call? Do I strengthen my flesh and empower my spirit through time with Jesus in the gardens of my life?

Father - keep my eyes and ears open. May I always watch and pray and hear Your voice. While I know the cup of trial will not always pass me by, I pray that I may be prepared to receive it and honor You in how I respond. May I be proud to be found with you in the gardens. Amen

Monday, May 3, 2010

Good and Faithful

Matthew 25:21 & 26
His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’
“But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed.

The master calls is servants by two names, "good and faithful" and "wicked and lazy." I don't think he doubles up the names for literary effect. The first word describes the quality of the servants' hearts, "good" or "wicked." The second word describes the lifestyle produced from such a heart, "faithful" or "lazy." The good servant, out of the goodness (Godness, Lk 18:19) inside is faithful in living as the master would have him life. He knew the master to be kind, merciful and generous (Mt 25:36-40) and therefore invested his life in behaving this way. The wicked servant clearly did not know or understand the master (v. 24). His distorted view led him to neglect the master and his priorities (Mt. 25:41-45).
While at the surface, this parable seems to suggest that God is more concerned with our works and behavior than our faith or fear of God, the exact opposite is true. Right theology and a right relationship with the Father will always produce a lifestyle that honors Him. These priorities, lived out or neglected, are what can be seen and measured. These are the measure of our faith, not the content of it.
So how does my lifestyle measure up? Do my decisions and priorities reflect a right view and relationship with the Father or have I become lazy in my view of Him? Would be qualified to be called "good and faithful?"

Father - deepen my understanding of You. Sharpen my vision of who You are. Remind me of Your presence and Your priorities. Help me to be good and faithful in all that I do. Amen.