1 Chronicles 11 – How to Determine the Course of Your Life

It’s interesting to me that two people can come from the same family, or have the same opportunities and advantages, and still turn out so differently. Two people can have the same starting point and the same paths before them, yet they wind up in two very different places.

Such is the case with Saul and David. In 1 Chronicles chapter 10, you read the very sad story of King Saul. He was picked from obscurity, placed in the position of king, and told by God that he would prosper if he was obedient. Yet Saul’s story ends with Saul’s sons being killed, Saul committing suicide, and his body being dismembered and mockingly put on display.

Then, in 1 chronicles chapter 11, you pick up the story of David. He’s another man who was picked from obscurity, placed in the position of king, and told by God that he would prosper if he was obedient. Unlike Saul, David prospers, seizes his opportunities, and reaches his potential.

What did David have that Saul didn’t? David had God’s sovereignty behind him (1 Chron. 11:2), but so did Saul. (1 Sam. 12:14) David had the people’s and soldiers’ loyalty (1 Chron. 11:1-3,10-15), but so did Saul. (1 Chron. 10:11-12)

So what was the difference between these two men?

The difference is that David had integrity. (1 Chron. 11:18-19) David’s integrity was demonstrated in his humility before God and others, as well as his service to God and others. This integrity, humility, and service endeared him to his men (1 Chron. 11:10-25) and his God. (Acts 13:22) This is what differentiated David from Saul. In the end, Saul did not have integrity, humility, or service.

Is your life characterized by integrity, humility, and service? Your answer to this question could very well determine the course of your life!

2 Kings 24-25 – You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide

“You can run, but you can’t hide!” This statement refers to the idea that eventually justice will be served and payment will be required for wrongs done.

We’re taught this, but we act as if it’s not true. There’s something that tempts us to do what we want now and act as if there will be no consequences in the future. Then, when the consequences finally come, we are left with sorrowful regrets and “if only’s.”

This is the flavor of the final two chapters of 2 Kings. After His people repeatedly disregard His warnings and do what they wanted to do, God can no longer patiently and mercifully hold back the consequences of their actions. Those consequences finally catch up with them. And it’s heartbreaking.

  • The temple is ransacked and looted.
  • All but the poor are taken prisoner and deported.
  • The king runs in fear but is captured and forced to watch his sons be killed.
  • Then, the king’s eyes are gouged out and he is carried away as a prisoner.

The book of 2 Kings ends in dismal despair and hopelessness.

But, what’s the point?! Why end a book this way?

Here’s the point. God’s people wrongly assume their relationship with Him will lead Him to overlook their disobedience and rebellion. They think His love will lessen His discipline. But it doesn’t. God’s love may postpone His discipline, but it doesn’t prevent His discipline. (Hebrews 12:6)

Numbers 32:23 says that we can be sure our sin will find us and reveal us. Galatians 6:7 says that we can’t ignore God and get away with it.

So when you choose your present actions, keep the long-term consequences in mind. Be faithful in the present so you won’t have to be fearful in the future. Because…we can run, but we can’t hide.

2 Kings 22-23 – The Heart of a Musician

When I was 9 years old, my parents got me and my brother guitars. We both took lessons, learned how to hold them, strum them, and even play some beginner-type songs.

But for my brother, it always seemed stiff, forced, and a little awkward. While for me, I just got it! I internalized it. I became devoted to spending more time learning and practicing. It became a part of me.

It’s the same with God. Some people connect with Him, while others just learn about Him. Some spend time with Him; practicing His principles until they become an internalized way of life. Others learn the routines and procedures, but God never becomes a natural part of their life. Consequently, they drop God, or they pull Him out occasionally…like the one song they know how to play in front of others.

In 2 Kings chapters 22-23, Josiah passionately desires to follow God and puts his whole self into doing it. He didn’t want to tinker with “music.” He had the heart of a “musician.”

Any musician knows that for the music to come “alive,’ you must completely commit to it. This is Josiah.

  • His heart breaks when he realizes Judah is not what they should be. (2 Kings 22:11, 13)
  • He commits to Judah becoming what God has called them to be. (2 Kings 23:3)
  • He diligently changes things and practices life as God intended. (2 Kings 23:4-20)
  • He turned to God with his heart, soul, and strength. (2 Kings 23:25)

Are you playing at knowing God? Are you satisfied knowing and doing just enough to technically say you have a connection with Him? Or are you yearning for and committed to the Living God, so that He becomes a part of you…like the music that wells up from within the musician?

2 Kings 18-20 – Are You Hoping to Catch a Break?

“Some people get all the breaks!” Ever felt that way?

King Hezekiah is one of those people for whom everything just seems to works out. But there’s a reason for that.

2 Kings chapter 18 tells us that King Hezekiah was living a life of faithful obedience before he faced his difficulties. He didn’t wait for things to get bad to be faithful. He was faithful before the bad times. And 2 Kings chapter 19 tells us Hezekiah didn’t scramble to fix things himself when things were bad, but instead prayerfully turned to God and trusted Him for the outcome.

Now, he was not perfect. In the middle of 2 Kings chapter 18, Hezekiah tries to pay off the Assyrian king rather than trust God. But, once the Assyrian king goes back on his agreement, Hezekiah realizes God is the only person whom he can truly trust.

And towards the end of 2 Kings chapter 19, Hezekiah believes God enough to wait for Him to act on His promises. When impending disaster is breathing down his neck, he doesn’t just say he believes God, he sits on his hands and waits for God to do something.

Hezekiah was not someone who “caught all the breaks.” He was someone who was…

  • Faithful to God long before he needed the break.
  • Fervently prayerful when he needed a break.
  • Fearlessly willing to wait on God until the break came…despite the fear and pressure it might not.

And Hezekiah lived out those principles of faith, prayer, and trusting even when he became ill and close to death. (2 Kings chapter 20)

Compared to Hezekiah, how are you doing? Are you faithful before the problem arises, prayerful in the midst of the problem, and trusting to the end of the problem? Or are you just hoping to catch a break?

2 Kings 1 – Fishing for Answers

When you were growing up and needed to get your parents to sign off on something, didn’t you know which parent was more likely to say “yes” to what you wanted? Isn’t that the parent you went to?

As adults, we still tend to seek advice from friends and family whose opinions are in line with ours.

King Ahaziah

In 2 Kings chapter 1, King Ahaziah of Israel is seriously injured and seeking the advice of a pagan prophet.

Elijah

But Elijah, the prophet of God, intercepts the king’s messenger. Elijah tells the messenger to return to king Ahaziah and tell him that, because he turned to a false god for information, he would die in the bed to which he was currently confined.

Furious at not receiving the answer he wanted, the king sends soldiers to arrest Elijah. But the soldiers are destroyed as a sign that Elijah was delivering truth from God. The king sends more soldiers, and the same thing happens to them. Then, the king sends even more soldiers. But this time the soldiers ask Elijah to be merciful and spare them. Elijah not only spares them, but he also returns with them to confront the king.

Elijah comes before the king and delivers the exact message he delivered in the beginning. No embellishment. No dramatics. He simply repeats the original message.

What happened next?! 2 Kings 1:17 makes this simple, matter-of-fact statement: “So Ahaziah died, just as the Lord had promised through Elijah.” It happened exactly as God said it would.

Us

What is it that leads us to turn to anything and everything but God? Why do we turn to that which will feed our ego, rather than to that which will feed our soul? Why do we fish for the answers we want, rather than the truth we need?

God knows the beginning from the end. (Revelation 1:8) He has the answers we need, and we should pursue His answers, even if they’re not really what we want to hear.

1 Kings 20 – Disregarding God

Have you ever done something good for someone, only to have that person disregard you? When that happens, your response is often, “How could they do that, after all I’ve done for them?!”

This is the theme and feel of 1 Kings chapter 20. Twice, God rescues King Ahab of Israel by giving him victory over King Ben-Hadad of Aram…despite overwhelming odds. There should have been no way King Ahab could have survived, let alone been victorious in these two battles. But God intervened and gave Ahab the victory so that he would know the Lord was really God. (1 Kings 20:13, 28)

Yet, after all God did for Ahab, Ahab disregards God by disobeying His command to kill King Ben-Hadad. And Ahab disobeyed, not because of humanitarian reasons, but because of his greed. (1 Kings 20:34)

Then, after being confronted with what he’s done and the consequences of his disobedience, Ahab cops an attitude. (1 Kings 20:43)

You read this story and think, “What’s up with this guy?! What a jerk!” But, before you judge Ahab too harshly, you need to ask yourself, “Have I ever been guilty of the same thing? Have I received help, blessing, and rescue from God, only to later disregard Him? Have I failed to recognize my indebtedness to Him?”

As He was with Ahab, God has been gracious toward us…daily. We’re not even aware of all the times He’s rescued us, protected us, and provided for us throughout life. The honor and obedience He deserves from us should be a small token of our gratitude.

Today, take time to recognize God’s goodness toward you and take some time to respond to Him in gratitude and obedience.

1 Kings 14 – What a Waste!

It happens. You open up your news feed or turn on the news, and you hear about someone with a lot of promise and with everything going for them who threw it all away on bad choices and wrong living. It’s not only sad, it’s mystifying. All you can do is shake your head and think, “What a waste!”

This is the feeling you get from 1 Kings chapter 14. Both Jeroboam and Rehoboam had been given great opportunities. God had given each of them a kingdom and a promise to meet their needs and desires if they would simply follow and obey Him. Yet, they took God’s goodness toward them as a sign they were invincible and they did whatever they wanted.

We can read 1 Kings chapter 14 and say, “What a waste,” but aren’t we prone to demonstrate the same type of behavior?

When things are going well, we tend to let down our guard and become less disciplined and vigilant. We do more of what we want to do and less of what we need to do, acting as if God’s blessings are going to just keep coming…even though our actions are less and less worthy of blessing.

We must remember that every blessing we experience is a gift from God. (James 1:17) We need to realize that we have been bought with the great price of Christ’s life. We should honor and obey God out of gratitude, rather than honor ourselves by doing whatever we want. (1 Cor. 6:20)

Don’t take for granted the blessings of God and your need to gratefully obey His directions. Don’t live your life in such a way that someone might someday look at your life and say, “What a waste!”

1 Kings 11 – A Little Disobedience

There’s no such thing as a little disobedience.

It’s not unusual to find news stories of well-known and successful investors being arrested for illegally cheating their clients out of millions of dollars. Thousands of people have lost their retirement and life savings due to illegal investment schemes by unscrupulous investors.

These investors were successful without their illegal schemes. Even in a down-turned economy, they fared better than most. Yet their desire for even more led to their downfall.

This was the case with Solomon in 1 Kings chapter 11. Solomon had wealth, wisdom, power, and luxury. He was famous and respected throughout the known world. But he wanted even more.

Solomon had a weakness for women. And though he could have had all the Israelite women he wanted for his wives, Solomon wanted foreign women. He wanted women who believed in, and followed after, other gods. God had specifically and clearly told Solomon that such women were “out of bounds.” But Solomon, though he had everything, wanted more and willfully disobeyed God’s instructions. (1 Kings 11:2, 9-10)

This started Solomon and the whole nation of Israel on a downward slide.

It’s so easy for our lives to be like Solomon’s. God has given us so much, yet we still want more. We clearly understand how God wants us to live, yet we willfully do what we want to…often with similar results to Solomon’s.

We consider an act of disobedience such a small thing, then we suffer big consequences. And we find ourselves saying, “I don’t know what happened. Things were going so well!”

God has given us Solomon’s story to warn and teach us. The God who blesses us so richly calls us to follow Him completely. (1 Kings 11:6) There’s no such thing as a little disobedience!

2 Samuel 12 – God’s Rules of the Road

To get from point A to point B often requires several steps…and at times, a little help. But, if you will receive the help and take the steps, it’s amazing how far you can get.

In 2 Samuel chapter 12, David moves from hypocritical sinner to conquering king. But it was a hard trip, requiring some help and several steps.

David needed someone to clearly point out that he was not only moving in the wrong direction but that it was a dangerous direction.

Then, David was able to humbly admit his sin and accept the correction given to him. At this point, David turned and started moving toward God…first in shame and regret, and then in petition for help. And even when God would not make the trip any easier, David worshiped God and acknowledged God’s sovereignty. And finally, David turned his attention to the here and now; comforting those whom his actions hurt and getting back to the work he had neglected. (2 Samuel 11:1)

God’s response was to bless David’s family with a son and to bless his work with a victory.

If we’re to get from where we are to where God wants us to be, we need to mind God’s rules of the road. God’s rules of the road are accountability, confession, repentance, prayer, submission, obedience, and worship. These help us to progress on the trip God desires for us, and they lead us to those rest areas where God can bless us, our families, and our work.

So mind God’s rules of the road, and you will move from where you are to where God wants you to be.

2 Samuel 5 – Are There Keys to Living a “Charmed Life?”

Have you ever known someone who seemed to live a charmed life? They’re in the right place at the right time. They get all the right breaks. Everything they touch turns to gold.

Those outside of Israel probably felt David lived a charmed life because everything he touched seemed to work out so well.

How did he do it? 2 Samuel chapter 5 shows us three keys to David’s success. David…

  • Asked for directions.
  • Followed instructions.
  • Gave credit where credit was due.

ASKING FOR DIRECTIONS

David was seasoned by years of experience. He had paid his dues and he knew how to get things done. Still, he continued to ask God for direction and permission, rather than launching out on his own initiative. (2 Sam. 5:19,23.)

FOLLOWING INSTRUCTIONS

David not only asked God for direction. He also followed God’s instructions. (2 Sam. 5:20,25)

Unlike David, some people never get where they want to go, because they don’t ask for directions. Others fail to get where they want to go because they don’t follow the directions they were given. But this was not David.

GIVING CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE

David could have easily taken credit for all his accomplishments. But he refused to believe his own press. Instead, he gave credit to God…where it was due. (2 Sam. 5:12,20) David knew his success was not because of him or for him. He realized God was blessing him for the sake of God’s people. (2 Sam. 5:12)

A WORD OF WARNING…

Don’t assume that asking God for directions, following God’s instructions, and giving God credit will assure you of a “charmed life.” Remember, David spent years running from a homicidal king, and Jesus was wrongfully accused, tried, and crucified.

These three keys are not a magic formula for a “charmed life.” But they will make your life stronger, wiser, and more fruitful.

So, today…try asking God for direction, following His instruction, and giving Him the credit He’s due. You will be surprised at the difference it makes.