Inquire Of God

1 Kings 22:7-8
“And Jehoshaphat said, ‘Is there not still a prophet of the Lord here, that we may inquire of Him?’So the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, ‘There is still one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may inquire of the Lord; but I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil.’ And Jehoshaphat said, ‘Let not the king say such things!’”

Syrian forces occupied land that belonged to Israel and Ahab was determined to get it back. When Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, arrived for a visit, Ahab seized the opportunity to enlist Judah as an ally in his campaign against Syria. Not wanting to bring his people into an unnecessary war, Jehoshaphat wanted to take a moment to hear from the Lord, so he asked to hear from a prophet. Ahab paraded a host of prophets before the king who all declared victory in battle. The problem was, they were not prophets of God, but were a variety of fetish priests who worshiped idols. Jehoshaphat objected to their counsel and sought to hear the Word of God. It is here where the true heart of Ahab is revealed. He declares,

“There is still one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may inquire of the Lord; but I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil.”

The king of Israel had no interest in hearing the truth. In fact, as the story unfolds, we find that Micaiah will be thrown in prison for speaking the word of God. Ahab’s desire was to silence anyone who did not declare the truth as he saw it.

What a sad parallel to much of what we see happening in our world today. We have accepted a worldview where tolerance is the highest form of morality. We are required to accept the choices people make as though every choice was equal, and those who would dare speak out against certain behaviors as immoral, are immediately silenced. The approach of silencing the word of God was not good for Ahab and Israel, and it will not turn out positively for us either.

Proverbs 14:34 “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.”

Pastor Jim

 

If…Then…

1 Kings 9:4
“Now if you walk before Me as your father David walked, in integrity of heart and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded you, and if you keep My statutes and My judgments…” 

If you are a parent, you understand conditional promises. Almost daily you find yourself saying things like “If you keep your room clean, then…” Or “if you get good grades, then…” Basically you are declaring that if certain conditions are met, certain rewards will be given.

The Bible is filled with these same kind of promises. Here Solomon is told, if Israel walks in line with the commands of God, they will experience the blessings of God, but if they turn from God, they will be chastened by Him. This is not a difficult concept to understand. If we choose to walk with Christ and live obediently to His word, we will be blessed. If we turn from Him and pursue things that His word forbids, we will begin to experience the chastening of God. We will find that the sinful activities we pursued actually robbed us of the life they promised to provide.

The narrative of Scripture reveals that Israel ignored these warnings. They were attracted to the lifestyles of the nations around them and they forsook the ways of God, for the ways of the world. It did not take long for this to have negative affects on the nation. After Solomon died, the nation experienced a devastating civil conflict that split the kingdom in two. Weakened by the split and continual rebellion against God, the nations were later overrun by enemies and taken captive to distant lands. What had once been a beautiful testimony to the goodness and faithfulness of God, became a testimony to the horrible consequences of sin.

No matter how great the temptation to turn from God and embrace the ways of the world, we must remember the example of Israel. If we meet the conditions we receive the promises. We will have a blessed life as we follow after, and live pleasing to, the Lord.

Pastor Jim

Limitless

1 Kings 7:13-14
“Now King Solomon sent and brought Huram from Tyre. He was the son of a widow from the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a bronze worker; he was filled with wisdom and understanding and skill in working with all kinds of bronze work. So he came to King Solomon and did all his work.”

Solomon’s reign was the golden age for Israel. David’s exploits had created peace, which allowed for the economy to flourish and the nation to go through a building boom. Across the landscape, Israel was building lavish structures for the king and his kingdom. When it came time for the plans to be enacted and the work to begin, Solomon brought in a skilled builder from Tyre named Huram. The text gives us three interesting details regarding this man. First He was filled with wisdom, second he was skillful, and third he was the son of a Jewish woman and a man from Tyre. Tyre was a Phoenician city on the Mediterranean coast north of Israel. This meant it is likely that Huram was the son of a believing mother and unbelieving father. Like Timothy, he would have grown up in a mixed home. This often creates confusion in children, but in this case, he grew to be mightily used by God for  the kingdom, by using his talents for the Lord.

Many of us are faced with less than ideal situations in which to follow Christ. For some, their spouse is not following Christ, or they have a prodigal child. For others, they seem to be the lone believer at work, and others live in an area without a strong bible teaching church, to help them walk out their faith. This passages provides great encouragement; knowing it is possible to accomplish great things for the kingdom, even when we are faced with troubling and trying experiences.

Let’s take a page from Huram’s book and not let our difficulties limit our commitment to Christ.

Pastor Jim

 

What’s It Worth

1 Kings 21:20
“I have found you, because you have sold yourself to do evil in the sight of the Lord”

This is certainly not the only record of Ahab’s sin. He was a man who long ago had given up on any desire to live a life that honors the Lord. This passage does however illustrate, quite strongly, the question asked by Jesus, when He said, “What will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24)

We all know we will never gain the whole world. A few have tried, but none have succeeded. Many, however, have traded eternity for some temporal pleasure or possession. Like Esau, who gave his birth right for a bowl of soup, many give up eternity for something that lasts only a moment. For Ahab, it was a field. He wanted a garden he could enjoy from his palace window. There was however, a problem; the land was owned by another man. Instead of letting it go, he plotted to take the field by force. For a plot of ground, he took a life. In doing so, he revealed how cheaply he valued his own life.

The Bible tells us redemption of the soul is costly; our actual value is infinite. Peter explains we were redeemed with the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19), because no amount of silver or gold would do. Instead of sitting on the sale rack, selling yourself off to participate in a passing sinful experience, remember you are worth much more than that, and are a blood-bought child of the Lord.

Pastor Jim

 

No Experience Necessary 

1 Kings 20:13-14
Suddenly a prophet approached Ahab king of Israel, saying, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Have you seen all this great multitude? Behold, I will deliver it into your hand today, and you shall know that I am the Lord.'” So Ahab said, ‘By whom?’ And he said, ‘Thus says the Lord:”By the young leaders of the provinces.”’ Then he said, ‘Who will set the battle in order?’ And he answered, ‘You.’”

Israel was facing almost certain annihilation; the forces of Syria had mounted against them and poised to attack. The troops and resources of Syria far outweighed that of Israel; and in a word, things looked bleak. It was with this backdrop that we are introduced to an unnamed prophet, who brought an almost unbelievable message. The message was that God would deliver Israel from the threat and he would do it through the young and inexperienced leaders.

I love the emphasis God puts upon young and inexperienced people. We read of great exploits being accomplished by Daniel and his companions, Jeremiah, and Timothy; all chosen while they were young. Jesus himself chose 12 men who had little or no leadership experience, and used them to lay the foundation for the church. I also love the way God chooses to train the inexperienced. Just as Ahab was to set the battle in order for the young leaders, God often will take those who have walked with Him for years, and use them to speak wisdom into the lives of the young men.

This principle is particularly important if the church is going to survive another generation. The older saints must trust the young leaders, and the young leaders must humble themselves and be willing to have their zeal guided by the wisdom of those who have gone before them.

Pastor Jim

 

Alone? 

1 Kings 19:10
So he said, ‘I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.’”

Elijah was a man devoted to God. Publicly and privately, he showed commitment and faithfulness to the Lord. His most recent experiences had led him to a face-to-face conflict with the one who most opposed the ways of God. After experiencing great personal victory, Elijah was plagued with a deep depression. He felt as though he could no longer continue serving the Lord, for the opposition was simply too great. Instead of surrounding himself with others who loved and served the Lord, Elijah isolated himself, and his depression grew deeper and darker. The farther he ran, the worse things became, until he found himself miles from home, cowering in a deserted cave, deep in the wilderness.

It was there, in his deepest darkness, that the Lord showed up. It was not a physical appearance Elijah saw, but the quiet voice of God which he heard. The Voice reminded him of a few foundational truths. First, God was not done. Just as Elijah had been used in the past, so would God continue to use him. He had work to do and that work involved raising up the leaders of tomorrow. Second, God reminded Elijah he was not alone. Although feeling isolated, and having a sense that no one understood or even cared about the things which concerned him, he was reminded there were thousands of others who also served the Lord.

Discouragement and depression are common emotions which plague those who faithfully serve the Lord. It is not unusual for those who love the Lord to be hit hard by their own personal failures or the failure of others. When those times hit, we need to avoid isolating ourselves, we need to get around the family of God, and allow the Lord to comfort and strengthen us.

If you are facing the dark side of emotions, take the time to reach out to a Christian friend for prayer, and counsel.

Pastor Jim

 

Valley Of Decision 

1 Kings 18:21
“And Elijah came to all the people, and said, ‘How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.’ But the people answered him not a word.”

For thousands of years, men have stood in the valley of decision, unwillingly to make a complete commitment to the Lord. Fear, guilt, weakness, sin, and the influence of others, hold us back from surrendering to the Lord. The words of Elijah are as needful today as ever. He calls us to carefully consider the Lord, and make a decision to commit our lives to Him.

In every age, men are persuaded to become like the culture in which they live. The moral code of culture pulls us to reject the high standard of holiness found in the pages of God’s Word, and to accept immorality as the norm. At the same time, a resounding voice cries out from heaven, calling us to commit ourselves to Christ.

Rather than waiting for others to make a decision for you through the persuasion of the culture, why not commit to Christ and become the one who influences others. As you forsake the world and commit all to Christ, you will find that your life has a great impact on others for the kingdom of Heaven.

Time is running out, and today is the day of salvation. Make the choice to follow Christ.

Pastor Jim