Tuesday, July 31, 2012

2 Chronicles 35 - End of a Faithful Leader

Once more we see the end of a faithful king.  Although, it seems we haven't seen too many faithful kings!  God had promised Josiah that he would not see the suffering that God was about to bring on the people for the sins of their fathers, for the sins of the people.  To put it bluntly - Josiah is killed.  He is dead and the people grieve for this king who tried to make things right between them and the LORD.  He did what was right and the people loved him.

Can you imagine that Passover Feast?  Josiah and the leaders of the people were so concerned that God be worshipped; that the Passover be observed; and that the people's sins were covered by the blood of the Passover lamb that they, themselves, gave the sacrifices that were to be offered for the lay people.  Now that is a great king! Seems to me, that is what the King of Kings also did, for us.  But, in this latter case, the Passover Lamb was Himself and the blood was His own.  He was willing to give all for the people.

Josiah did what was right in the sight of God and the people loved him.  Tomorrow, in our final chapter in 2 Chronicles, we will see Jerusalem fall under the leadership of a king who will not do what is right in God's eyes.

There is a moral to this story (probably more than one).  It would be good if the leaders of our various countries would hear the stories of what has happened to countries whose kings would not lead them according to God's will.

May we set aside our meager false gods and worship the one true God that it may be well with us and our children and their's.

God's Peace - Judy

Monday, July 30, 2012

2 Chronicles 34 - Death as a Blessing

Now this is an interesting blessing:  "Now I will gather you to your ancestors, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place and on those who live here."  (34:28 NIV)

Death is the blessing; death before Josiah has to see the devastation that the sin of others will bring upon the people whom he loves and serves.  To see those whom we love, suffer, is a horrible burden.  It is something most of us would prefer not to witness or endure.  It is especially painful when it is your children or grandchildren who suffer.  And for faithful Josiah, his blessing from God is that he will not live long enough to witness the consequences of Judah's sins.

Death is something most of us really want to avoid.  But, not all.  I've heard it said that everyone is afraid of death.  I do not believe that.  We love life here in this world.  But, there are some of us who look forward to the peace that will come in the kingdom of God.  We are tired of seeing the pain and suffering of loved ones, of the world.  Death does not have victory over us.  However, we will continue with an intent not unlike that of St. Paul as he wrote to the Phillipians (1:20-26): 
     "I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.   For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!  I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me."

Paul too counted death as a blessing.  But, he also knew that it was all up to the will of God.  There was still the gospel to proclaim to a suffering world and he could not/would not depart his body just because he was tired and wanted to live in Christ's eternal presence.  He would not choose what was for his benefit, but rather that which would benefit the whole Body of Christ.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

2 Chronicles 33 - School of Hard Knocks

Manasseh learned from the school of "hard knocks."  He worshipped other gods, and when the mess got bigger than he could handle; when he found himself in bondage; he repented.  He turned to the LORD, the one true God, for help.  That's the good news.  Manasseh learned at the school of "hard knocks."

His son, Amon, did not.  He did the evil that his father, Manasseh, had done before Manasseh learned from the school of "hard knocks."  Amon did not live long enough to learn a better way.  His officials assissinated him.

Amon followed in the ways of his father.  Were those ways learned?  Were they just a product of the evil within the community?  Maybe there were no outside influences and the evil that Amon did was born in a vacuum?  I doubt it.  Bad behaviors are usually learned.  Just as we can be taught to do what is good, someone teaches us to do what is evil.  Someone entices us and way too often we listen. 

In the beginning... Adam and Eve were alone in the garden.  Not!  Their sin was encouraged by someone or something.  The serpent enticed them and they listened. 

What are we teaching our sons and daughters?  What have we taught them?  Most of us have been to the school of "hard knocks."  Let us pray that our children will not follow us there.  May God help us to teach them, to show them, the way in which they should go.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

2 Chronicles 32 - Water of Life

Hezekiah's strategy includes cutting of the Assyrians from an element that is essential to life:  water.  Lots to be said regarding today's chapter, but thought, instead, to share some scripture regarding the water of life that Jesus gives to us.

"...but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  John 4:14 NIV

"He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life."  Rev 21:6

"Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb." Rev 22:1

"The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life."  Rev 22:17

Water is essential to life and Jesus offers to you the water that will refresh you for all eternity.  Drink of this spring of living water, that you might live life refreshed in the knowledge and presence of God for all eternity (beginning even today!)...

A note on Hezekiah...  He was faithful, yet, even his ego got a grip on him for a time.  What did he do when this happened?  He repented and God forgave him.  He rested with the descendents of David who followed in the ways of the LORD.

Friday, July 27, 2012

2 Chronicles 31 - Good and Right and Faithful Steward

"This is what Hezekiah did throughout Judah, doing what was good and right and faithful before the Lord his God. In everything that he undertook in the service of God’s temple and in obedience to the law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly. And so he prospered." (31:20-21 NIV) 

This chapter is a wonderful example of good stewardship - stewardship in many areas.  I probably think about stewardship - taking care of all that God has given us (including: His grace, forgiveness, eternal life) - at least once a day.  Lately, I've been trying to figure out what we should do for our annual stewardship program or lack of it.  I hate programs, but we do focus on stewardship during October.  I've been trying to talk one of the most faithful men that I know into doing a table talk on stewardship.  I'm not sure if he will.  I am sure he is reading this and the chapter for today; though, because he is also faithful in the stewardship of God's word.  He is faithful in many things.  (Matt 25)

I often hear people complain about how little they have.  They don't have enough money to help others.  They don't have enough time to worship.  They don't have.  The reality, I often see, is that they often have a great deal.  The harder reality is that they just manage things poorly.  They are very poor stewards of God's gifts to them.  God is the last person they take the time to think about or thank when it comes time to using up the gifts of God and consequently they lose a lot - they throw it away - instead of investing or reinvesting for the glory of God.  

Remembering that all that we have actually belongs to God and that we are simply caretakers of it helps me to keep things in perspective. 

May God help us to do what is good and right and faithful before Him.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

2 Chronicles 30 - You Have Been Pardoned

“May the Lord, who is good, pardon everyone who sets their heart on seeking God—the Lord, the God of their ancestors—even if they are not clean according to the rules of the sanctuary.” (30:18-19 NIV)

The people had been lax for some time in observing the rules of the sanctuary.  They had not worshipped God as they should have, so Hezekiah prays that God would have mercy and pardon everyone who set their on seeking the LORD.  As the people worshipped God, celebrating the feast of the unleavened bread at the temple, they rejoiced.  They celebrated!  So much joy filled their hearts as they celebrated at the temple, that it could be compared to nothing since the time of David.

By the blood of Jesus Christ, you have been forgiven your sins.  Even though we have been lax in following in His way, we have been pardoned.  Rejoice!  Receive the joy that comes from being in communion with the LORD, our God.  Receive the peace that comes from worshipping the one true God.

P.S.  Sorry so late today.  Still on vacation and spent the night at the hunting camp with bats flying around...  So, didn't fall asleep easily and slept later than normal.  No wi-fi at the camp.  God's Peace - Pr. Judy

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

2 Chronicles 29 - Consecrated Temple

Hmmm.... I'm wondering what it would take to consecrate the temple...

In fact, we can't.  The temple of God, which is the Body of Christ has already been consecrated.  It was consecrated with the very blood of Christ.  What is more, all who believe, that is the members of the Body of Christ, have been consecrated, as well.  We are the temple of God and we have been consecrated, we have been made holy, by the blood of Christ and are now able to come into His presence to worship and serve Him.

As Hezekiah, was faithful, to the LORD, may we, with the help of God Himself, be faithful to Him, as well.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

2 Chronicles 28 - Evil

Too much war....  Way too much destruction!  The sins of these ancient kings is beginning to be a bit overwhelming for me.  I don't care to watch this much violence on television.  The thought of all that evil in ancient days is beginning to make me a bit nauseous and by the children of Abraham no less...

I have seen a lot in my lifetime, but the evil that King Ahaz did, as well as other kings of that time, is just too much.  It is beyond words.  Not that these latter days have not seen men and kingdoms follow in these evil ways.  But, it is beyond my comprehension, how so much evil can dwell in one man, in the people, who listen to him and follow him?

How can humankind be so blind, so compassionless, that they will persecute, enslave, murder their brothers and sisters.  These were afterall, children of Abraham.  And... we are children of God, we are brothers and sisters in Christ.  Whom will we persecute today?  Whom will we love even as God loves us?  Whom, which god, will we serve?  "...But, as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."  (Joshua 24:15) 

“Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD."  Joshua 24:14

Monday, July 23, 2012

2 Chronicles 27 - Judged to be Judge

"Jotham grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the Lord his God."
(27:6 NIV)

Good thing to remember:  Follow in His ways. 

Not too long ago, my granddaughter told me that someone we had met was kind of scary.  LOL... He was not scary, but he did have an air of authority.  He carried himself well and he tried to be steadfast in doing the will of the LORD.  People who do this can be very intimidating.  And... that's ok. 

Sometimes, Christians who are perceived in this manner are judged to be acting like judges over others.  I've found that this is not usually the case.  What I see happening is the righteousness of Christ is seen in these individuals and as is human nature when we encounter such persons, we judge ourselves to be less than we could be.  It is not the member of the Body of Christ who judges others, but the individuals themselves recognizing their sinful natures whether they repent of them or not.  When they do not, they will justify their own actions, accusing the one whose presence makes their behaviors uncomfortable to them, as judging them. 

Personally, I get a bit wearied with those who profess to be Christians who never weary of judging other Christians who actually read their Bibles and participate in Worship and Bible studies.  Those who serve the LORD with all their hearts, minds, and souls, and who love their neighbors as themselves should not be ostracized as some sort of crazed fanatics.  They are not.  They are only responding to the love the Christ has for them, even in giving his life for them on the cross.  Should his sacrifice be taken so lightly that we would not worship and serve Him with our whole beings? 

May God help each and everyone one of us to walk steadfastly before the LORD our God.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

2 Chronicles 26 - Uzziah Sins

Again, today, we hear of a king who began by doing what was right and then did something that was not in accordance with the will of God.

Uzziah let his ego get the best of him.  Maybe he felt that the LORD favored him so much that he could do anything he wanted to and get away with it.  Or... maybe he just wanted to honor the LORD.  But, if that was the case, he would have honored Him, by having the priest burn the incense for him.  He did not.  He usurped the authority of the priests and did it himself, bringing upon his head the consequences of his actions.  He became leprous.

Seems God has some pretty hard and fast rules in the Old Testament.  I wonder how many we break everyday. I often wonder at the audacity of people who break them intentionally. It's not that I think God is going to inflict anyone with leprosy. It's more that I wonder how it is that when God is so willing to freely forgive us when we do break the law, when we do sin, that we ignore and cannot acknowledge His grace. Sin has become nothing or maybe something like a matter of opinion. Grace has become very cheap, indeed. The cost of our forgiveness was very great, indeed. Jesus died that we might be forgiven our sin.

Fact is: everyone sins. Uzziah did. We do. Our egos will get the upper hand at times (often), even our greed and self-centeredness will. But, the thing to do when that does happen is to acknowledge our sin and receive the forgiveness that is so freely given to us for the sake of Jesus Christ, our LORD.

May God, our Father, help us to follow in the way of His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, doing what is right and pleasing to the LORD, by the power of Holy Spirit.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

2 Chronicles 25 - Which god?

Battery has a couple of minutes!

"Why hast thou sought after the gods of the people, which could not deliver their own people out of thine hand?"  (25:25 KJV)

Why  indeed?  Why do we?  Again, this morning, I am reminded that we should examine ourselves regularly and ask  ourselves, which god, whom do we serve?

Friday, July 20, 2012

2 Chronicles 24 - Examine Ourselves

There's a good warning in this chapter:  that even those who begin faithful can turn from the LORD.  It happened to Joash.  It can happen to any of us.  It is necessary that we remain diligent in hearing (reading/studying) God's word and knowing His Word so that we will not be led astray by those who worship other gods.  It is just necessary...

On January 1st of every year, many people take a look back and see what they need to change in their lives so that they would have more prosperous, healthy, peaceful lives.  One 
time per year is not enough.  We need to examine ourselves each and every day to see if we are doing what the LORD would have us do; so that we will live abundant lives in his kingdom eternally, which includes today.

P.S.  I am in the Smokey Mountains this morning and for some reason my power cord is not powering anything, so if there is no post tomorrow, it's because I have a dead Eee Pad.  Have a blessed day...

Thursday, July 19, 2012

2 Chronicles 23 - Calm

"...All the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was calm, because Athaliah had been slain with the sword." (23:21)

Finally the people have peace.  The evil-doer has been removed.  The temple of Baal has been torn down and the priests have been put in place to lead a right worship of God.  They have repented and turned to the LORD and the people know calm.  They know peace.

Peace... that would be a good thing for the land to know.  But, certain things had to happen in order for the people to know calm.  Certain things have to happen.  Evil doers - those who stir up trouble - those who worship other gods - must change their ways or be kept from leading the people in the way they should not go.

I am anxious this morning for the peace I know among God's people in Arvon Township.  Whenever I leave the area, I am reminded of how fortunate I am to be able to live in peace among His people.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

2 Chronicles 22 - Soap Box and Soap Operas

As short as Ahaziah's reign and today's reading is, it is a major "soap opera!" 

Bad counsel leads to major disaster.  Not following in the ways the LORD directs us leads to death.  And, then the mother, the matriarch, of this family decides to destroy the rest of the family so that she will have control.  Bad business... this desire for power and control.

But, then I think we see that in many families.  Most of us are not after major kingdoms, because we know they're out of our reach.  Instead, we tend to make kingdoms and subjects out of the people around us, those closest to us.  How true the saying is in so many cases:  "A man home is his castle."  I don't think it's particularly men who like to subject their families to their rule, but many women desire to be "Queen for a day" or a year or a life-time.  But, not following in the ways of the LORD, not allowing God to rule our homes, leads to very poor counsel and very poor qualities of life. 

This manipulation of others for power, control, authority often extends beyond the family into the work place, even into the church on earth.  Following, listening to those who are out for their own glory is a recipe for disaster.  It is the making of a soap opera.

My husband and I own and (he) operates na adult foster care.  When I was more involved one of my "pet peeves" was watching soap operas in the dining area.  I would allow them to watch them in the living room as they are adults and can watch what they want.  But, it drove me just a little bonkers to have staff sitting at the table watching "soaps" with the residents  I could always tell what they (both staff and residents) had been watching because life around the house always became just a little more dramatic with the more hours spent watching all this drama.  Lots of bad counsel and lots of manipulating to get what we want, when we want it, in that television programming and somehow that attitude or lifestyle eventually creeps into our own.  We like to tell our children what they can or cannot watch, but are we really aware of and monitoring what we absorbing into our hearts and minds?

I think that there are times when we need to just say no.  We need to stay out of the drama because it will drag us and others down.  I think too, that we need to do what we can to not allow ourselves or others in our family manipulate anyone to do their will, rather than God's.  It is most beneficial for everyone to do what is right in the sight of the LORD.

Ok...  getting off the soap box.  Just really dislike soap operas....!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

2 Chronicles 21 - Alone

"...He passed away, to no one’s regret, and was buried in the City of David, but not in the tombs of the kings." (21:20 NIV)

Now, Jehoram followed in the ways of Ahab doing what was evil in the sight of the LORD.  Can you imagine a man who is so horrid that he would kill his own brothers to usurp all power, all authority.  He had the kingship in the first place, but wanted even more.  He was so loathsome that his own people did not mourn for him and did not even give him the honor, as king, to be buried in the tombs of the kings.  He must have been very depressed man as he suffered with illness and died alone, without the comfort of God or any man.

It is not about things, it is not about power or authority, it is not about what we want as individuals, it is about relationship.  It is about being in relationship with #1 God and #2 others.  In relationship with God and one another we will find peace and joy.  We will find fulfillment.  I wonder how many people today really understand this.  All around me I see greed, jealousy, selfishness, self-centeredness.  We want what we want and we want it now at the expense of any and all relationships with God or others (family or neighbors).  Children are neglected in the pursuit of the adult happiness and self-fulfillment.  Marriages are desimated.  Morality is trampled upon.  Justice is non-existent.

May God help us to love Him above all things and our neighbors as ourselves.


Monday, July 16, 2012

2 Chronicles 20 - God Is With You

"For the battle is not yours, but God’s." (20:15 NIV)  This is what the prophet Jahaziel told Jehoshapat and all the people as they prepared for battle and as he promised that God would handle it. They were not to worry. The victory and the glory would be God's.

What a wonderful reminder this morning, that the glory belongs to God, not us.  I'm thinking today is a good day to remind you all, that what I writr is not gospel. They are opinons, stirrings of the heart that occur when I read scripture.

The purpose of this blog is much like our Bible Studies at Zion Lutheran, Skanee.  We read scripture together, we share what we hear from the word of God.  We don't always hear the same things so it can make for some very interesting conversations as we share what we understand, what we hear from the scriptures.  The Spirit speaks to each of us according to our circumstances, experience and many other things.  The word speaks to us according to our needs.  It is what Dr. Karlo Keljo often taught as the "Miracle of Hearing."  Sometimes, I might hear things that has nothing to do with you and you may be left hanging, thinking, "what is she talking about!" 

So, today, I'm putting in my disclaimer.  I make mistakes. I am human.  And... sometimes my bias' show up in what I say or right.  I am terribly fallible and I pray often that when I really mess up, God will not allow my mistakes to harm others. So, I pray He will do the same with these blogs, as well.  That they will help you to keep on track reading the scriptures; that the Spirit will open your ears and hearts and minds to hear what the LORD would have you hear, not necessarily what I write or say.

Sometimes there are things going on in my life that I need guidance on and so the Spirit will open up the word to help me where I'm at. I'm not always coming from the same place that you are.  But, thanks to the LORD, our ultimate destination is the same! 

And... God will be with us.  God is with us in our battles, guiding us, supporting us, giving us wisdom and strength.  The battles are really not ours, but God's.  He gives us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord.  He may use the hands and feet and hearts and minds that He has given us, but, ultimately, it is God's work that God does through us.  God gets the glory!

“Give thanks to the Lord,
for his love endures forever.”  (20:21)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

2 Chronicles 19 - Peace With The LORD

"... You are to warn them not to sin against the LORD."  (19:10)  And... guess what?  Those who do warn others, will not be liked much!  Every now and then I will get asked to do something, that's not particularly in line with putting God first.  Actually, it's more like putting myself (and my personal desires for myself) before God and when my response is no, they look at me utterly astonished as though there is something wrong with me.  You see, there is this misperception that because I at least attempt to know what God desires and what He doesn't, I don't know how to have fun. 

I'm pretty sure that when they ask me to participate in something that I am pretty sure is not something I should be participating in, they not only hear my no, but, they also see my face and my non-verbal response to their question.  And, I feel bad for them because it appears to me that if that's what fun is for them; then, they don't know how to have fun! 

I simply do not know how one can relay that there is nothing more fun, more pleasurable, than having a relationship with God.  And... if you're in relationship with someone then you do what is pleasing to them.  You try to make them happy.  They come first. 

Jehoshaphat appointed judges over the people and told them to be careful how they judged, not according to any human partiality, not to favor one over the other, that their judgements should be equal and just according to God's law.   He told them:  "Now let the fear of the Lord be on you. Judge carefully, for with the Lord our God there is no injustice or partiality or bribery.”  We are all to be treated equal, because one is a friend or a brother or sister, does not mean we should not warn them because we don't want to lose them.  Because one is an enemy, that does not mean their sentence should be harsher than the one whom we know well.

How many times in our court systems do we see this happening?  The enemy (or those whom we don't know so well) are judged and sentenced much harsher than the one's whose father or mother are well known and liked in the town?  Equality... it really is suppose to be for everyone. 

And... everyone deserves to be warned so that they will have the opportunity to live in peace with the LORD.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

2 Chronicles 18 - Itching Ears

Ahab, the king of Israel, has itching ears...  He wants to hear only what will benefit him.  He's heard from 400 prophets and likes what he hears.  Israel and Judah will be successful in their attack on Ramoth Gilead.  Still, they are not sure.  Jehoshaphat wants to hear from a prophet of the LORD, not any old prophet.  Well, yes there is one. But, Micaiah isn't one of Ahab's favorites.  The word he brings is usually not favorable to Ahab and Ahab really doesn't want to hear it.  He knows it's probably a word of disaster for him.  And, it is.

I can't help but wonder how often we (preachers) preach to please the people, to soothe their itching ears rather than tell the truth and this done in order that they will continue to like us.  Ahab did not like Micaiah one bit.  But, Micaiah still told the truth.  That is what we are suppose to be doing:  preaching the truth.

We are not called to please people, but to proclaim the good news of the kingdom through Jesus the Christ.  I can think of innumerable voices in recent times that have proclaimed another gospel, a prosperity gospel or a social gospel, and all this done to please itching ears, to make members of a church, rather than the Church, which is the Body of Christ.

Friday, July 13, 2012

2 Chronicles 17 - Fear

Jehoshaphat followed in the ways of the LORD and was very successful as a king.  He became great and the people became great.  The people of the surrounding territorities all came to have fear of the God of Jehoshaphat.

I'm wondering how we measure success?  How did the people of Jehoshaphat't time measure success?  Jehoshaphat was feared because the God he served, helped him to conquer people and people feared his God. 

Personally, I get a bit tired of being feared, but, on the other hand, if being feared because I try to be faithful then I guess I'll be dealing with it for a bit longer.  And, I'm not even going around trying to conquering people, unless one considers being a fisher for men, a conquerer. 

Those who follow in the way of the LORD, will be feared by some, maybe even by many.  Was not Jesus feared?  Was that not why he was put to death?  Because, he was changing the way we are to look at success?  He was successful, because he was willing to die to do the Father's will.  He was successful because he was willing to humble himself, even on the cross, to die for you, for us.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

2 Chronicles 16 - Healing and Wholeness

Sometimes, it seems, we may be going in the right direction, doing the right thing, and then for whatever reason we go off and do something that is totally not like us.

This is exactly what Asa has done.  After relying on the LORD for all those years, it seems, he gets a little nervous and decides he needs to strike up an alliance with Syria.  There are consequences to Asa's lack of trust and he is warned of them by a man of God sent to him. His peace will definitely be disturbed for depending, for trusting man before God to help him.

Asa becomes greatly diseased in his feet, yet, even then, scripture says, he did not seek the help of the LORD, rather he sought only the advice of the physicians.  We should seek the LORD's help.  We should rely on Him above all things and remember, too...  He gives gifts to Dr's and Nurses so that God might heal us through the gifts He has given others. 

But, I think, too, that if we would only turn to the LORD, rely on Him, and walk with Him, we would know a wholeness that can only come from God - a wholeness - reconciliation with God and our neighbor - that comes only through the love of God in Christ Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit.  In the wholeness, that healing, one will know peace.

God's Peace be with you.......

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

2 Chronicles 15 - Tempt Your Heart

Seek the LORD with all your heart and soul...  Often times, easier said than done.

It seems that there is always something trying to tempt your heart and soul from seeking the LORD and serving Him with your whole heart and soul.  Someone always seems to want to replace the LORD with someone or something else in your life.  It's a trial....  A tiring trial.  With the help of God, the temptation to serve false gods an be overcome.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

2 Chronicles 14 - Strange gods

Asa did what was right in the sight of God.  He got rid of all the altars that were used to worship strange gods.  And... the land had rest!

If that's all that it takes to have rest - to have peace - in the land, why can't the land be rid of strange gods.   I'm all for it!  I have to admit that these past few years out on the eastern side of Baraga County, I have known more rest, more peace, than I've known most of my life.  Although, they still are there; it seems there are relatively fewer false gods than in most places I've lived.  Well,  I guess I have to take that back.  As busy as I was, I also knew quite a bit of rest and peace when I lived in Gay, MI and in Rota, Spain, as well as Jacksonville, NC.  They were chaotic times, but there was also rest.  But, still, none of these places afforded me the opportunty, the time, to really give thanks to God and to Worship Him, as I have experienced the last few years.  It's not there is not turmoil around me.  But, the turmoil caused by the false gods around me, are not able to invade my space, my life, as they were when I was living in the midst of people who bowed to strange gods.

I am in North Carolina this morning.  I remember returning here to live many years ago and thinking, as the plane landed:  I will die in this place. It was a good thought, but probably not going to happen. It is a beautiful state and I do miss it at times. As we were driving down here this week, I was thinking what a beautiful country we live in.  Every state is so awesome!  How blessed we are.  I wonder then, if the rest I know comes with age... Has it come to me as I've grown older because with each year the strange gods have revealed to me how false they really are and I've managed to ignore or get rid of them from my life.

Don't know.... just musing...  I do know that when we keep the strange gods out of our lives, our lives go a lot smoother and the  people of the land will know rest and have peace.

Monday, July 9, 2012

2 Chronicles 13 - Rely on the LORD

The children of Judah prevailed over the children of Israel because they relied on the LORD God.

I can`t even begin to count the number of times I`ve heard tragic stories and in hearing, knew that the problem stemmed from relying on their own desires rather than on the Lord.  My own life attests to this, as well.  Fortunately, I learned this lesson a long time ago.  Yes, every now and then, I lapse.  I fall back and get into trouble.  I`m getting better, day by day, at recognizing this.

It just sems to make life a whole lot easier when we rely on the LORD, rather than ourselvesor other false gods we can dream up for ourselves.

Have a blessed day, as  you go forth trusting in  the LORD.

For those who are wondering how my trip is going.  We almost made it out of Michigan, but ending up stopping just before the border of Ohio.  My shoes are wonderfully wet...  Seems my youngest granddaughter poured water in them while we were all sleeping.  I'm thinking she has a few lessons to learn about respecting others or she is going to have a pretty rough life ahead of her.  :)  Fortunately, I have an extra pair.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

2 Chronicles 12 - Humble Yourself

Rehoboam totally abandoned the will, the ways, of God.  And... he was humbled.  The LORD sent Egypt against him.  Rehoboam was humbled and repented and the wrath of the LORD was turned from him.  Yet, Rehoboam's reign was a reign of evil in the sight of the LORD.

What can I say?  Repent and turn to the LORD for He is merciful and kind.  Oh, that all whom Jesus' died for would humble themselves and turn to the one who died to save them.

When I read the lessons and begin writing, I often wonder how many people who are reading this are thinking "what an old fool."  That may be true, but I'd rather be an old fool than lost.  I am totally serious.  It does not matter what anyone thinks of us.  There is only one way.  It is to follow Jesus in the way of the cross.  May we humble ourselves, daily, turning to the LORD, living in the Kingdom of God. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

2 Chronicles 11 - Family

Last chapter, Rehoboam oppresses the people.  This chapter; the oppressed (Jeroboam) sets up false gods.  Makes sense to me!  Not!  It is just amazing how our human nature will lead us to do what is not God's will.  And... yet, God continues to love His children.

And speaking of children, Rehoboam has a few - 88 of them - including 24 sons.  Course, that really not that many when you consider that he had 18 wives and 60 concubines.  Rehoboam knows how to manipulate his sons for his own political purposes.  He has, as is necessary. chosen one as the heir to the throne.  We'll see how that plays out, as he has chosen the eldest son of his favorite wife, not the first-born of his sons.  But, he is shrewd in that he provides well for all them and gives them each places of authority in various cities.  This probably in hopes that he will be able to satisfy them and keep them from killing each other out of jealousy.  It will also ensure that Rehoboam maintains control over the whole region as his own sons watch over the various areas.  I'm thinking Rehoboam is a "control freak" and he's pretty good at it.  Money and power can really aid in controlling the lives of people around us.

Most of us have much smaller families today - in this country we do not allow for 18 wives.  It would be good if these smaller families would be able to interact and genuinely care for each other.  However, it still often happens that the whole family will end up being controlled in such a way by the most powerful and manipulative in the family to do their will, to help fulfill their desires, their dreams, and aspirations for their own lives.  No one in the family benefits from this.  Everyone one ends up a bit more dysfunctional than they would be in the first place, given our human natures.

May God bless families so that they would love and not manipulate and use their loved ones.  May He bless this world and all leaders so that they will think first of serving God and others, before themselves.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

2 Chronicles 10 - Bullies and Elder Abuse

Solomon's son, Rehoboam has a revolt on his hands.  Why?  Because. he chose to listen to the folly of the youth and rejected the wisdom of the elders who spoke for the good of the people.  Rehoboam decided to follow the counsel of the young men and put a greater burden on the people than they'd had before.

We all have burdens they seem to go along with breathing.  But, is there any reason we should place unjust burdens on one another? 

Actually, as I was reading chapter 10 this morning, what came to mind was "elder abuse."  What came to mind was the female on the bus being abused by children and not doing anything about it.  Yes, she had good reason not to.  If she had she may have been charged herself.  Did they do anything illegal?  No, apparently, elder abuse is ok in this county.  But, it was a good reminder to all of us that it is not just child abuse that we need to be concerned about, but elder abuse, as well. Believe me, there is a lot of it going on! 

I'm not sure how the problem can be fixed.  I hear adults use the same language and attitude of some of the children.  It's all over the television and in the music.  It's on the streets.  It is just about every where.  It is a very sad thing that so many children have been taught to be so disrespectful of others.  Having just celebrated Independence Day, I wonder if we have a clue what it means to be free and allow others to be and live free from persecution.

On the other hand, I also know many young people who are very respectful of the rights of others.

In the lesson though, the people would not stand for the abuse.  They had enough of him treating them so unfairly and revolted sending Rehoboam out of Shechem to Jerusalem.  And... He ran...  There are consequences to being a bully. 

May our children come to a better understanding of the benefits of respecting others.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

2 Chronicles 8-9 - Blessed be the LORD!

It is the 4th of July and today we celebrate our freedom in the United States.  I wonder what our forefathers - those that fought and lived through the revolution would think of our celebrations.  I wonder what they would think of what has been built on the foundation they laid.  How do we use our freedom?  To live life according to the good pleasure of God?  Or do we use our freedom as an excuse to trample on the lives of others?  Since I am biased, I will say that we live in a great country.  Here, I am still free to practice my faith (even though there are many who would prefer I did not).

Solomon, too, with the help of God, built a great country.  Not only he, but Israel, grew and prospered under his leadership.  Kings and even a queen honored and respected what had been done through him.  The Queen of Sheba, after witnessing his wisdom said, "Blessed be the LORD your God, who has delighted in you and set you on his throne as king for the LORD your God!  Because your God loved Israel and would establish them forever, he has made you king over them, that you may execute justice and righteousness." (9:8 ESV)

Blessed be the LORD, our God!  May we all remember what He has done for us; how He has provided us with many great leaders over the generations.  May He raise up a leader(s) that will serve, with wisdom; executing justice and righteousness for all people. 

Christ has made you free to be children of God.  Men and women have given much so that you live freely in this world to live as a child of God.  Have a safe and happy celebration of the freedom that was won for you by others.  Honor (do not dishonor) the sacrifices made for you.  Live life so that others may hear and see and say, "Blessed be the LORD your God!"

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

2 Chronicles 7 - Fire Came Down and the Wind Blew

I'm running a bit late this morning...  Fire came down from heaven last night or maybe it was the wind and split my apple tree in two, with half of it laying on the ground.  The power has been out since 1:30 a.m..  Since, I still had stuff left in the church basement to haul to St. Vincent DePaul's from the youth rummage sale, figured I'd come to the church and work for a bit. 

Before I went to bed last night, I said a prayer:  thanking God for my little home that He gave to me out in the middle of the woods and at the mouth of a river.  (You will hear a lot about this place from me - I love it and thank God everyday for it!) Thing about the location is that when it rains real hard the water comes right up to the back door.  That's not necessarily all that bad.  When the power goes out and we have no water, because the pump on the well won't work without electricity, I can step off the back deck and take a bath.  The lightning was flashing so steady last night, I didn't even need a flashlight to get around the house.  Each bang and boom from the thunder was joined with the sound of may other thunderous claps - made for quite a concert.

The rain and lightning don't bother me much.  I suppose if the lightning struck something I was about to cook (as in the reading today) that might bother me and yeah I'd probably fall on my face and start praising God pretty quick, too.  What bothered me a little more than it usually does, were the high winds.  I really do live in the woods.  I have huge cedar, pine, oak trees (to name just a few) surrounding my little yard.  I mean "really big" as in 70 to 80 feet tall. So tall the eagles like to sit in them and watch out over the bay.  Well, if one of these come down and my little home, it and I would be smooshed.  So, before I fell asleep, as I watched them swaying in the wind, I thanked God for the home that He has blessed me with and asked Him to keep it intact throughout the night. 

When I woke up this morning, the water was up to the back step, but the roof of my house was still on.  No huge trees down.  The only thing on the ground, beside for a few branches, was half of the apple tree which I just asked my husband last week to prune :)

God is good.  He is very, very good.  His steadfast loves endures forever!

P.S. I pray that God has kept your home and you safe throughout these storms we've had of late.

Monday, July 2, 2012

2 Chronicles 6 - Assemble/God's Name

Now here is a mystery that I have puzzled over time and time again.  God's name dwells in the temple, but he hears our prayers from heaven.  What does it mean for  God's name to dwell in the temple?  The temple was built for God's name.  Solomon reminds the people that this temple built by human hands can in no way contain the LORD.  God is bigger than all this.  Again... It is God's name, not His whole being (if that word might be used) that dwells there.

Yet, the whole assembly of Israel gathers at the temple to hear Solomon dedicate the temple and to bless the people.  I like this:  "all the assembly of Israel." (ESV)  I often wonder what would happen if every member of every Christian congregation in the world would assemble for worship even for just one Sunday (or whatever day your congregation worships together).  Can you imagine that!  Can you imagine all of God's people worshipping, and praying, and praising God all on the same day, at the same time?  I think this would definitely be pleasing to the LORD.  After all that He has done for us, don't we love Him enough for that to happen? 

We can be so like the spoiled child, whose parents give all they can so that there children will have the best of everything and all their children do is complain.  They still never have exactly what they want and can't always do exactly what they want to do.  And why would that be?  Because parents know that it would not always be in the best interest of their children to give them some of the things they desire.

Oh, but if we, as the assembly of God's people, could only celebrate and give thanks for the gifts and opportunities that God, our Father, has given to us.  What a difference that would make for the world!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

2 Chronicles 5 - Music!

Wow!  I can just imagine the celebration when the ark was brought into the temple!  I can just imagine the music!  I love music! I forget how much I do, because I don't listen to much of it any more.  Mostly, I listen to the birds sing and the frogs croak. I like the silence.  And... I'm not terribly impressed with much of the music today. On my Facebook page this morning I had two songs done by a young man, Marshall Codd.  They were two Scottish songs.  Now I like that stuff and it was very good to hear him sing again!  It has been a few years since I've had that privilege.

Later this month (July 29), Zion Lutheran, Skanee will have their annual music fest.  I always enjoy that musical event.  I will be on vacation, but I definitely plan on being around for the musical.  I think the thing I enjoy most about it is the opportunity to hear local people praise the LORD with their music.  It never ceases to amaze me who our choir enlists to provide the music.  And... it is for a good cause.  The concert is a benefit for St. Vincent De Paul, L'Anse, MI.  St. Vincents is the local food pantry administered by the Catholic Church and assists those who are in need in Baraga Country financialy, as well.

Praise the LORD with instruments and your voices.  Let the world know:
     "For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever."  (vs 13)