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.

1 Samuel 15 – “Because I Said So.”

“Because I said so!” Most of us can remember hearing this from our parents. We didn’t like it then, and we still not crazy about the “because I said so” reason for doing something.

But there are times when we’re called upon to simply obey…whether we like it or not.

This is the central theme of 1 Samuel chapter 15. There, Saul is given a simple command that required simple obedience, and he chooses to ignore it.

Why is obedience so hard? At times it’s because we what what we want. Other times, our pride keeps us from humbling ourselves and obeying. Sometimes, we’re afraid we won’t like the outcome of our obedience. Other times, we’re afraid we will look bad in the eyes of others. All of these can lead to disobedience… Saul’s and ours.

As a Heavenly Father, God loves us and desires to be close to us. He wants to protect us, provide for us, and encourage us. But as a Father, God will also tell us what He wants us to do. Despite all He has done for us, He is still God! Despite the fact that we, as believers, are His children, we are still His creation and His servants. And we are still called upon and expected to obey.

Like Saul, our disobedience may seem small and inconsequential, but as someone once said, “partial obedience is total disobedience.” And disobedience can have debilitating consequences.

When God calls us to do something and our human nature rise up in opposition, may God give us the Spirit of Jesus who said, “Not my will but yours be done.” (Matthew 26:39) May we respond like Jesus, who humbled Himself and became obedient…even to death. (Phil. 2:7-8)

Because, God’s commands are not our options.

1 Samuel 13 – Pay Attention to the Red Lights

Some people are “feelers.” They respond to things based upon their feelings.

Now feelings are not bad and should not be avoided. God Himself has feelings and expresses emotion. (Gen. 6:6) (Ex. 4:14) (Job 33:26) But, we should not allow our feelings to drive us.

Feelings are like the red lights on the dashboard of your car. They warns you that something needs your attention. If you ignore the red lights, or cover them up, or disconnect them…you court disaster. The red light is not the problem. It’s just an indicator of a problem.

Here’s what this has to do with 1 Samuel chapter 13. Saul was a feeler. He made decisions based upon feelings, not faith. When the situation became grave, Saul followed his feelings and panicked. His feelings over-ruled his faith, causing him to disobey the Lord in an attempt to calm his fear. Then, when confronted with his disobedience, Saul (driven by guilt) sought to covering things up with rationalization. (1 Sam. 13:11-12)

If you’re a feeler, the key to not letting your emotions drive you is found in what Samuel tells Saul. (1 Sam. 13:14) Samuel tells Saul that God is looking for someone who is after God’s heart, rather than their own.

Pay attention to your feelings, but be more concerned with God’s feelings than your own. Bring your feelings in line with God’s through prayer and a knowledge of His word. Then, when your feelings light up, you’ll know there is something going on under your hood that need to be tuned up or corrected.

Pay attention to your red lights.

Joshua 12-19 – Is Close Enough Enough?

In Joshua chapters 12-19, you see two different standards on display…

  •  “Close enough for government work.”
  • “A job worth doing is worth doing right.”

In these chapters, you read how the Children of Israel took over and divided the land God had promised to them. Yet, at least four times you read something like: “but they did not drive out the (fill in the blank) from the land.” They almost finished the work, but they left a group of people, who continued to live among them and cause them problems. In other words, the Israelites settled for “close enough for government work.”

But God, through people like Joshua and Caleb, was urging the people toward the other standard: “A job worth doing is worth doing right.”

  • Caleb completely conquered his section of territory, because he followed the Lord completely and wholeheartedly. (Joshua 14:8,9,14.)
  • Joshua cheered on the tribes of Ephriam and Manasseh, telling them they could drive out the Canaanites even though the Canaanites were strong and had iron chariots. (Joshua 17:18.)
  • Joshua asked seven of the tribes how long they were going to wait before taking possession of what God had already given them. (Joshua 18:3.)

In light of all of this, here are some questions we need to ask ourselves…

  • When it comes to the things to which God has called me, do I have an attitude of “close enough for government work,” or an attitude of complete, wholehearted obedience?
  • Do I partially do what God has called me to do, or do I see it as a job worth doing and doing well?
  • Are some of my current problems the result of a lack of complete obedience?
  • How long will I wait before taking full possession of what God has already given me?

If you wonder what God desires from you, check out 1 Corinthians 10:31 and Colossians 3:17. Give yourself completely to that which God is calling you. Take every bit of that land!