My Fault

2 Chronicles 28:19
“For the Lord brought Judah low because of Ahaz king of Israel, for he had encouraged moral decline in Judah and had been continually unfaithful to the Lord.”

It seems to me that men are addicted to titles. We give nicknames to our friends and relatives, the moment a catastrophe happens people are racing to give it a catchy name and every era is classified by some behavior associated with it. We have been introduced to the hippies, the yuppies, genX and the Millennials. I think if we were to honestly evaluate the age we live in today we might call it the “blame someone elsers.”

The moment something bad happens we begin to look for someone to blame. Just recently my son was rear-ended by another driver. Within seconds of the accident the person claimed he backed into them. They were on a flat surface, waiting at a stop light and the woman was looking down at her phone, yet the accident was clearly someone else’s fault. This problem has become an epidemic and has spread throughout our land. If we don’t want this to continue and destroy us, it is time we start looking for a cure.

If we will look into the Bible and allow it to look into us we will find that we are taught to take responsibility for our own actions and that personal sin will result in being brought low. When something bad happens, instead of hunting for someone else to blame we should immediately look within to see what we have done wrong and look up to God seeking His forgiveness and remedy to the problem.

Jim

 

Storms Of Life

2 Chronicles 13:18
“Thus the children of Israel were subdued at that time; and the children of Judah prevailed, because they relied on the Lord God of their fathers.”

I spent much of my life in California before moving to Florida. The people I first met in Florida would often tell me they could never live in California because of the earthquakes, when I visited California people would say they could never live in Florida because of the Hurricanes. If you live in the Midwest it is the tornado that people fear and if your in the north east it is the cold. The reality is everywhere in the world has its challenges and things that make life difficult.

Walking with the Lord is like that. Every season of life comes with its trials and challenges. The struggles we face today might not be the same ones we were facing in our youth and may not be the same ones we will face in the years to come. As the seasons of life change so too the trials we face often change. That being said the solution is always the same. 2,800 years ago Abijah and his troops found that they prevailed in the trials of life when they chose to rely upon the Lord.

We may not be surrounded by angry and hostile enemy armed with sword and bow, but even if we are the solution is to put our confidence in the Lord, cling to His precious promises, cry out to Him and keep marching forward.

Jim

 

You Have Forsaken Me

2 Chronicles 12:5
“Thus says the Lord:‘You have forsaken Me, and therefore I also have left you in the hand of Shishak. ’”

A few years ago I was traveling to West Africa to speak at a conference for pastors and church workers. Most of the preparation for the event took place on the ground in Africa leaving me to only be responsible for my own travel needs. Three documents are necessary for entrance into Ghana. First like all countries a passport is necessary, second Ghana requires a visa and finally an immunization card showing that I have received an inoculation against Yellow Fever. Having been to Ghana before I knew of the requirements, planned my trip and headed toward the airport. About fifteen miles into my drive I had an urge to check my documents. I pulled over and dug through my bag to find that I had a passport and visa but had left my immunization card behind. I was forced at that point to turn around and go get it.

Judah under Reheboam had forgotten the Lord. Their prosperity had made them comfortable and in their comfort they had neglected God. It wasn’t until things began to go bad that they realized they had left behind the most important aspect of traveling through this life. They had neglected the Lord. The solution was the same for them as it is for us. They must turn around. Stop going in a direction that led them away from the Lord and start moving in direction toward Him.

Perhaps you have been neglecting the Lord, perhaps you have been busy but have not been busy doing the things that will bring about eternal reward. Stop moving in a direction away from God, turn around and get busy following Jesus.

Jim

 

Compassion 

2 Chronicles 36:15
“And the Lord God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place.”

Compassion is a necessary ingredient in order to bring about change. It is more than an emotion, it is a sense of pity that stirs one to action. The compassion of God flows from His love for humanity. He looks at our condition because of sin, and His heart breaks. Rather than simply feeling bad for us, His compassion stirs Him to action. In the days of Jeremiah, we read, God’s action was to send men to declare the truths of His Word.

Even the best of believers, tend to drift from the Lord. Rather than leaving us to this course, God moves to bring us back to Himself. He will no doubt use circumstances to grab our attention, but His compassion also stirs Him to send others to remind us of the ways of God. It is sad how often a person involved in prohibitive actions, will respond with an accusation of being “judged,” instead of being thankful for the compassion of God, Who loves them so much He rises early  to send a messenger.

Those in Jeremiah’s day reacted to these warning with anger, hate, and persecution. We need to be careful to react with repentance and change.

Pastor Jim

 

Grabbing A Dog By It’s Ears 

2 Chronicles 35:21
“But he sent messengers to him, saying, ‘What have I to do with you, king of Judah? I have not come against you this day, but against the house with which I have war; for God commanded me to make haste. Refrain from meddling with God, who is with me, lest He destroy you.,'”

Josiah had a tremendous ministry with wide spreading impact. His personal commitment to the Lord resulted in a national revival that even drew people from other nations to commit themselves to YHWH. While we could discuss in detail the long lasting affects of his ministry, I was struck by what cut it short. We read that he began to meddle in things that were not the Lord’s call on his life. He started fighting the wrong battle, and it cost him his life. A few verses come to mind when I think of the premature death of Josiah.

2 Timothy 4:7 “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

Paul used the phrase “good fight” or “good warfare” on three occasions. Once, he explained that his life was coming to an end and that he had spent it fighting the good fight. Twice he exhorted Timothy to do the same. It was important to Paul, and should be important to us, that we stay focussed and maintain the proper focus in ministry. It is easy to get sidetracked into battles that just don’t matter. Solomon put it like this,

Proverbs 26:17  “He who passes by and meddles in a quarrel not his own Is like one who takes a dog by the ears.”

The imagery is quite vivid. Grabbing a dog by the ears is a really bad idea and will result in an unnecessary hospital visit, which will probably include a shot with a very long needle.

It is possible to lose sight of what we have been called to and get caught up in a host of lesser things. I have seen ministries that were once vibrant in winning people to Christ, making disciples, sending out saints, become sterile. Their focus became building the church, getting too political or becoming overly concerned with what other leaders are doing.

We learned from Martha that it is possible to get sidetracked by just about anything, even duties. The important thing is that we remain focused on what God has called us to do. I remember a quote from Charles Spurgeon that went something like this,

“If God has called you to preach don’t stumble along the way to become a king.”

Let’s keep our eyes focused on Jesus, and our time spent on what he has called us to.

Pastor Jim

Set That Aside 

2 Chronicles 34:31
“Then the king stood in his place and made a covenant before the Lord, to follow the Lord, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant that were written in this book.”

Josiah’s story is a common one. While few have ever been king of a country, everyone who has responded to the Lord has walked a similar path as he did. First, Josiah made a decision to follow the Lord. This decision soon led him to a discovery of the Word of God, which in turn led him to make dramatic changes in his personal life, and his sphere of influence. We read that after he made a stand for the Lord, he called others to stand with him and,

Josiah removed all the abominations from all the country that belonged to the children of Israel, and made all who were present in Israel diligently serve the Lord their God. All his days they did not depart from following the Lord God of their fathers.”  2 Chronicles 34:33

A true commitment to Christ will always result in a change of lifestyle.

This was true of Asa,
2 Chronicles 14:2-3 “Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God, for he removed the altars of the foreign gods and the high places, and broke down the sacred pillars and cut down the wooden images.”

It was true of Jehoshaphat,
2 Chronicles 17:6 “And his heart took delight in the ways of the Lord; moreover he removed the high places and wooden images from Judah.”

And it must be true of us. When Jesus called people to follow Him, it was necessary for them to leave their past lives behind. He made abundantly clear that following Him meant denying self, taking up our cross, and going in a new direction in life. During his short ministry, he encountered many who took Him up on this offer and left all to follow. Tragically however, He also encountered many who refused to follow, because they refused to give up certain lifestyles, beliefs, or practices. Most of us are familiar with the Rich, Young Ruler, who, although he recognized who Jesus was, refused to give up what was necessary, in order to follow Him.

Paul made it clear that laying aside past behaviors continues to be a requirement for following Christ. He wrote, Romans 6:1 ” What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?”

Romans 6:12-14 “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”

One of the evidences of true conversion, is that we are willing to lay down our old life to follow Christ. Are you clinging to anything that Christ is calling you to lay aside? The solution to finding freedom begins with confession. If we confess our sin He will both forgive us and cleanse us (1 John 1:9)

Pastor Jim

 

Turn Around 

2 Chronicles 33:12
“Now when he was in affliction, he implored the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers,”

Hands down, Manasseh was the worse king to ever reign in Judah. In a few short years, he undid all the reforms his father had effected, and seduced the people into sins they had never dreamed of committing. The spiritual climate in the nation was at an all time low, and the morality of the people followed suit. It is not surprising to read the Assyrians defeated Judah, and carried the king off captive to Babylon. What is surprising to read is, during his affliction, he not only cried out to God for help, but he truly committed his life to the Lord. This turn around forever changed life and eternity for Manasseh. Through his downfall, he came to realize the Lord was God, and he began to make great reforms within his life and the nation. Altars, which had previously led him into sin, were removed. Repairs were made to the Temple of God; making worship and sacrifice easier and more appealing.

I wonder, have you failed in the past? Is the road you have travelled, marked with times of failure, and days where you have walked away from the Lord? If so, be encouraged by the story of Manasseh. No matter how badly you have fallen, you can turn around and be restored. The problem is, while most come to realize their failure, too many never make the turn. It is common to hear of someone who faces affliction, because of the path they have chosen to walk. Sadly, it is uncommon to hear of people making real and lasting decisions to turn from their sinful ways, and be committed to following the Lord. It is not that God cannot clean up, transform and change a life, it is that we are unwilling to let go of certain behaviors.

Don’t be like the rich, young Ruler, who, unwilling to change his ways, missed out on all the Lord had for him (Luke 18:18-23). Instead, be like Manasseh, make a complete turn around, giving all to the Lord.

Pastor Jim