Covenant

2 Kings 23:3
“Then the king stood by a pillar 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 this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people took a stand for the covenant.”

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The stories recorded in the Bible are designed to impact our lives and affect out behaviors. Here we find Josiah the king making a public commitment to follow the Lord. While his actions were public they were in no way political. This was not an attempt to raise his approval rating or get in good with the special interest groups. He was choosing to stand against what was popular, accepted and even politically correct and choose to commit himself and his reign to the Lord. Two things stand out to me regarding his decision.

First, it took place while standing by a pillar. I think if we were writing the story we would have Josiah at the altar or kneeling before the veil but it simply did not happen that way. Standing next to a pillar he devoted himself to His God.  Wherever you are is the right place to commit yourself to Christ. I have heard testimonies of believers who pulled their car off the road while listening to Christian radio and devoted themselves to Christ, others who were in hotel rooms where they found a strategically placed Bible in the nightstand. I even met a woman who in the middle of the night, alone at her home prayed to devote herself to the Lord, then went down the hall and baptized herself in the bath tub. Wherever you are it is the right time and place to commit yourself and your ways to the Lord. Don’t wait for it to become popular or acceptable. Give yourself completely to Christ today.

Secondly, I notice that Josiah’s commitment had a tremendous affect on others. When he devoted himself to the Lord others followed and eventually the nation was impacted. Often we neglect to be committed because we don’t want to stand out or be the only one. It is not uncommon in marriages that one person desires a deeper walk with Christ but holds back because they are uncertain how their spouse will respond. I think we should keep in mind the fact that others are looking for an example to follow. Your home will be transformed when you devote yourself more completely to Christ. Your decision will impact your spouse, your children and ultimately your world.

Pastor Jim

Is There A God In Israel? 

2 Kings 1:3
“But the angel of the Lord said to Elijah the Tishbite, ‘Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say to them, ‘Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron?'”

Sometimes it is difficult to uncover the meaning behind a biblical text or to make proper application for our lives. Other times, there is no difficulty at all. Three times in this text we read the same phrase,


“Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron?”

Ahaziah, King of Israel, had an accident and was severely injured. No doubt, after consulting the medical professionals of his day, he began to question whether or not he would recover. Since no earthly source could answer his inquiry, he sought out a prophet of Baal for guidance and advice. Heaven’s reaction to this was to question why a man of Israel would neglect to seek counsel from the God of Israel.

In all my years of following Jesus, I have never met a Christian who consulted Baal for advice or direction. However, I have met several who refuse to look to the Lord to meet their needs, and are quick to run to just about every other source. When difficulty, tragedy, or need arises, instead of increasing prayer time, fasting, or Bible reading, they start looking to others to solve the problem. With the advent of social media, this phenomenon has increases exponentially. Facebook and other mediums, seem to be filled with requests from Christians to assist them in their trying times. It is as though we have forgotten that Jesus promised if we seek Him and His righteousness, He will provide for our needs.

I am not saying believers should not help believers, or that it is wrong to ask others to pray for us. There are even cases in Scripture where men like Nehemiah ask the king for provision, to accomplish what God had called him to do. That being said, it does seem, at least in some cases, we have forgotten the message that Elijah heard, “Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron?”

In contrast to this, I am reminded of the story of Ezra the scribe. When he left Persia for Jerusalem, he had witnessed to the king regarding the great power of the God of Israel. Later, as he ventured out on the perilous journey, he determined not to ask the king for protection. He thought doing so would embarrass him, because of all the wonderful things he had told the king about Jehovah. So, instead of seeking aid from the king, he spent his time pleading with God for protection.

Ezra 8:22-23 “For I was ashamed to request of the king an escort of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy on the road, because we had spoken to the king, saying, “The hand of our God is upon all those for good who seek Him, but His power and His wrath are against all those who forsake Him.” So we fasted and entreated our God for this, and He answered our prayer.”

Whatever you may be currently facing, and whoever you may enlist to pray for you through the trial,don’t neglect to get alone with God, pour your difficulty out before Him and seek His help. Remember, He often allows the difficulties in order to bring us closer to Himself.
Pastor Jim

 

Secret

1 Chronicles 2:7
“The son of Carmi was Achar, the troubler of Israel, who transgressed in the accursed thing.”

Since the opening chapters of 1 Chronicles are designed to give us an accurate genealogical account of Israel, very little commentary is given. When that pattern is broken, our attention should be grabbed. In the case of Achar, we find a brief reference to his story alongside his name. Achar, or Achan, lived during the conquest of Canaan. He was among those men who followed Joshua across the Jordan, into the promised land. His situation gave him opportunity to be heroic, until greed got a hold of him.

Achan’s story is recoded in Joshua 7, and goes something like this. After Israel’s victory over Jericho, Joshua explained that all the spoils of war belonged to the Lord, and forbade the people from taking anything. Achan however, saw a beautiful garment and a handful of precious coins, and ignoring the word of God, he took them to his tent. Because these things were forbidden, he had to hide them from his friends and neighbors. It was not until God shed light on the situation, that anyone knew of Achan’s sin. The story ends with his sin costing him, the nation, and his family dearly.

His story reminds us of several things. First, we must allow the word of God, not our own desires, to determine what is good and bad, or right and wrong. Second, a little personal sin can have a very big impact upon ourself and others. Third, there are no actual secret sins; all things are done openly before the Lord. and if we do not expose them to ourselves and make the appropriate changes, God will reveal them. For the sake of the whole congregation of Israel, God took a strong stance against Achan’s behavior. It is not that He did not love Achan or his family, but that this one man’s action were weakening the entire nation.

There are many things worth being remembered for, but giving into personal lust and negatively impacting your family, friends, and church, are not one of them. If you are struggling with a secret sin, take the time to make it known. You do not have to publish it for all to read. However, the Bible tells us to first confess it to God, then to confess it to a trustworthy fellow Christian, who will pray for you and keep you accountable. Achan could have saved his life, and that of his family, had he only confessed his sin.

Pastor Jim

 

Survival 

2 Kings 24:3
“Surely at the commandment of the Lord this came upon Judah, to remove them from His sight because of the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he had done.”

The final chapters of 2 Kings tell the story of the death of a nation. After having a glorious beginning, and being miraculously sustained for a thousand years, the nation of Judah is defeated, the Temple destroyed, and the people taken as prisoners of war. These chapters record their collapse from heaven’s perspective. It was not caused by economic failure, a weak foreign policy, or because Babylon was a superior foe. Judah’s demise was simply a consequence of national sin, “…because of the sins of Manasseh…”

Certainly our nation is facing some very trying times. While the economists, sociologists and politicians dispense reasons for the social calamities we are facing, heaven sees the same symptoms, with an entirely different diagnosis. The problem is not the economy, our foreign policy, or the weakness of our borders. Our problem is sin. We, as a people, have left the ways of God and are reaping the consequences. The solution for any person, family, or nation is to turn back to the Lord.

This does not mean we go back in time. To become a godly people in no way implies technology or advances in science are wrong. It means we stop redefining sin and righteousness, and live according to the of the Word of God.

The place to start is in our personal lives, and in our homes. If we want to see a nation transformed, it will begin with you examining your own life, and being sure you are living to please the Lord. Instead of bickering about all that is wrong in the world, take some time to examine yourself, in light of the Word of God, and make any changes that are necessary. As your life is transformed, you will find God uses you to impact others for the kingdom of heaven.

What we need in America today is a revival, and it starts with the believers turning their lives over to the Lord.

Pastor Jim

 

Besieged 

2 Kings 25:2
“So the city was besieged until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah.”

Imagine sitting on Mount Scopus, just a little northeast of Jerusalem, as the Babylonian forces surrounded the city. Before long, the walls were penetrated, and the city taken. First the leaders were gathered and executed, then the city was plundered and burned. What had once been a glorious testimony to the goodness of God, now told an entirely different message. All who watched the city fall should have learned the devastating effects of sin. Even after a contingency returned to rebuild the temple, Jerusalem would still bear scars from its fall.

For years, two different messages were being heralded within the city. There were the politicians who believed the secret to success was to form an alliance with Egypt and fight the Babylonians, while the prophets declared that it was time to submit to Babylon and trust in the mercy of God. Sadly, to the end, the people refused the ways of God, and the city was destroyed.

I am certain you are not surrounded by Babylon, but you may be facing some real life calamity. Sometimes, the difficulties we face are a result of the sins of others, or of living in a fallen world. However, it is at least possible, we may be facing the consequences of not obeying the Word of God. Take a few minutes to examine your life. If you discover you are involved in things that are forbidden by God, make the appropriate changes. The mercy of God is so great He will forgive and restore.

Pastor Jim

 

You Know That’s Right

2 Kings 22:2
“And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the ways of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.”

Josiah was the youngest king to reign over the nation of Israel. At eight years old, his father died and he ascended the throne. We read very little of the early years of his reign, but at eighteen, he began a campaign to reform the nation, and turn the people back to the Lord. Josiah would go on to become one of the greatest kings in the nation’s long history. His success is summed up in three simple statements: he did what was right, he walked in the ways of the Lord, and he did not allow himself to become sidetracked by other things. As his story unfolds, we see the application of each of these points.

Josiah wanted to do what was right, and to please the Lord. He recognized, if this was going to happen, he had to make some spiritual investments in the kingdom.

The first step was to repair the broken down Temple. Neglect and the pursuit of other things, had left the Temple in disarray. Josiah sought to restore it; no matter what the cost. During the remodel, the Word of God was discovered in the rubble. It seems as though all the work stopped, as the king and the leaders sought to understand the meaning of God’s Word. With a little counsel, they soon discovered there was a lot more work to be done in the nation than they first believed. King Josiah began a campaign to remove all the articles and rituals which were contrary to the Word of God. By the end of his reign, he restored the Temple, abolished the idolatrous practices, and led many people into a right relationship with the Lord.

Josiah’s life is a great example for anyone who wants to follow the Lord. The first step is always to begin work in our own lives. In order to repair what is lacking in our relationship with the Lord, we must search the pages of His Word, learn what is unacceptable to Him, remove it from our life, then live to please the Lord. Then we will find our lives will impact others, and encourage them to pursue the Lord as well.

Now would be a good time to examine your life. Are there things that have been built in, that should be removed? Are you practicing things that are forbidden by the Word of God? If so follow the example of Josiah and remove them no matter what the cost.

Pastor Jim

 

Pay Attention 

2 Kings 21:1-2
“Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hephzibah. And he did evil in the sight of the Lord, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel.”

Manasseh, king of Judah, will go down in history as the king who caused the fall of the nation. It was not his foreign policy, his economic plan, or his tax code, that killed the nation. Instead, it was his view of God and his stance regarding sin that would weaken the nation, and lead to its collapse. Later we read,

2 Kings 23:26 “Nevertheless the Lord did not turn from the fierceness of His great wrath, with which His anger was aroused against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked Him.”

The sins of Manasseh include rebuilding high places, building altars to false gods, practicing soothsaying, and even sacrificing his children on altars to false gods. But the real driving force behind his sin was that he “paid no attention” to the word of God.

Our sins and their consequences may look entirely different than those of this ancient king, but the ultimate cause is always the same. When we ignore the Word and ways of God, and do life our own way, we will find ourselves living for things that will destroy us, and negatively impact the generations that follow us. For our sake, and the sake of those who will follow, we should carefully examine the Word of a God, and live according to the ways of God.

Pastor Jim