Friday, May 24, 2019

Trust and Obey...

"And he said to him, “I also am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord, saying, ‘Bring him back with you into your house that he may eat bread and drink water.’ ” But he lied to him. So he went back with him and ate bread in his house and drank water." - 1 Kings 13:18-19
We see it every day in the business world. People lie to get ahead. They have their own agenda and they really don't care who they hurt. There are also entire cultures that practice a lifestyle of constant deceit. They can't see any other way to succeed. In a world of such falsehood, who can we really trust?
The man of God had received a message from God and clear instructions to follow. He proved faithful in delivering the message and obedient in the early stages of of his mission. But, the moment of temptation arrived. The real difficulty was where the prodding came from to disobey. An old prophet lied to the man of God, which ultimately led to his death. If you can't trust an old prophet, who can you really trust?
The lesson is reasonably clear. The only one who knows the will of God for you... Is you. Many wise and well experienced people can enter your life with proposals that go contrary to God's will for you. They may be incredibly insightful and trustworthy. But, you are not accountable to their directions in life. You answer to God alone. And, in a world of many well meaning, but often misleading friends, who can you really trust? The leading of God! 

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Truth is always true...

"So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and did not wholly follow the Lord, as David his father had done. Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem. And so he did for all his foreign wives, who made offerings and sacrificed to their gods." - 1 Kings 11:6-8
Do you remember being told as a child not to touch the hot stove or you'd get burned? What happened when you touched the hot stove? You got burned. No matter how much you believed it wouldn't burn, you got burned. You can doubt all you want, but truth is always true.
Solomon was warned in Deuteronomy 7:3-4. If he married any woman from the pagan nations they would turn him away ..."from following me, to serve other gods."  What happened? No matter how much Solomon believed it wouldn't happen to him, it did. He could doubt all he wanted, but truth is always true. 
The principle is timeless my friend. Paul the apostle revisited this in 2 Corinthians 6:14..."Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?" The creative idea of "marriage evangelism" just doesn't work. There is no fellowship between light and darkness. You can doubt all you want, but truth is always true. 




Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Be Overwhelmed...

"And she said to the king, “The report was true that I heard in my own land of your words and of your wisdom, but I did not believe the reports until I came and my own eyes had seen it. And behold, the half was not told me. Your wisdom and prosperity surpass the report that I heard. Happy are your men! Happy are your servants, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom!" - 1 Kings 10:6-8
A number of years ago a friend from Illinois came to visit me at my home on Long Island, NY. He drove through New York City at four in morning and then seventy-five miles east to our home. As he reached the heavily wooded area of Suffolk County he wondered if he had made a wrong turn somewhere.  When he finally arrived, he was overwhelmed with the rural beauty that surrounded us. Apparently the half had not been told him.
The Queen of Sheba was greatly impressed with Solomon's wealth and wisdom. She had heard many reports and elaborate stories, but she didn't believe them, because It all sounded far too amazing. When she finally saw everything firsthand, it literally took her breath away. And behold, the half was not told her.
One day, every believer will finally experience the glory of Heaven. "And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb." - Revelation 21:21-23... And behold, the half will not have been told.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

True Love ...

"And King Solomon and all the congregation of Israel, who had assembled before him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and oxen that they could not be counted or numbered." - 1 Kings 8:5
Do you ever wonder who gives their husband or wife a brand new high end automobile for a Christmas or birthday gift? It could be a very wealthy family, or just someone that loves their mate so much that they would sacrifice anything for their happiness. True love has a way of bringing the best out of us.
As I wrote yesterday, Solomon enjoyed putting God first in his life. He didn't feel an obligation to worship and serve the Lord. He felt a loving devotion that drove him to honor God with overwhelming sacrifices. Solomon was totally committed to bringing joy and pleasure to the Lord's heart. True love had a way of bringing the best out of him.
When you enter the church next Sunday, what will you bring to the Lord? Will your gifts reflect obligation or love? Will you come with an excuse for giving so little in the offering plate? Or will you be so overwhelmed with God's saving grace in your life that no sacrifice will be enough to express your love and gratitude? True love has way of bringing the best out of us. 

Monday, May 20, 2019

First things first...

"And in the eleventh year, in the month of Bul, which is the eighth month, the house was finished in all its parts, and according to all its specifications. He was seven years in building it...  Solomon was building his own house thirteen years, and he finished his entire house. " - 1 Kings 6:38,; 7:1
When we have a choice, many of us will do what we enjoy first and then what needs to be done later. Usually when we do this, we tend to run out of time to do the necessary work. Wouldn't it be great if we enjoyed doing the necessary? 
Solomon certainly had the choice to build his own house first. After all, his palace compound was very complex and required a great deal more effort. It would have been nice to have a comfortable place to live while he built the temple. Could it be that he actually enjoyed doing what was necessary? 
"Do first things first" is an age old thought. We might follow the counsel because wisdom tells us that it's the best way to go. But, is it possible for "first things" to also be "enjoyable things". When we love the Lord, serving Him in any way is just that...both "first" and "enjoyable"... After all, Jesus said in Matthew 11:30 - "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” 


Sunday, May 19, 2019

God speaks ...

"The Spirit of the Lord speaks by me; his word is on my tongue." - 2 Samuel 23:2
During the 70s and 80s one well known stock firm became even more popular with the following commercial ... "When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen". When information comes our way, we tend to listen more carefully when we trust the source. The messenger is just that... a messenger. But, the one who sends the message makes all the difference. When God speaks, people should listen.
The words of David are quite revealing. He never saw himself as the original source of his writings. He understood the work of God's Spirit in his life and his work. When we read the psalms we hear the voice of God speaking to our hearts. This is the same with every book of the BIble. Whether it be David, Moses, Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul or Peter, they were all sent by God to speak and write God's message. So, when the pages of Scripture are opened and read, God speaks and we should listen.
During the early years of my pastoral ministry, the former editor of Christianity Today, Harold Lindsell, wrote the book "The Battle for The Bible". In the years that followed many more books were written defending the veracity of the Scriptures, in a time of doubt and unbelief. While all these books have been a great help, the above verse says all we need to know about the Bible ... God speaks, and people should listen.



  

Saturday, May 18, 2019

IF...

"Now the word of the Lord came to Solomon, “Concerning this house that you are building, if you will walk in my statutes and obey my rules and keep all my commandments and walk in them, then I will establish my word with you, which I spoke to David your father. And I will dwell among the children of Israel and will not forsake my people Israel.” - 1 Kings 6:11-13
There are different kinds of guarantees. The unconditional guarantee covers everything in everyway. Take a quality hammer... you can beat it, drop it, kick it, or slam it, and it's unconditionally guaranteed not to break. Then there's the quality laptop... It's guaranteed, but you better not beat it, drop it, kick it, or slam it, because it's conditionally guaranteed not to break. You need to look for the "if" .
God's promises are much the same as above. The unconditional promise is all God's work. We can stumble, fumble, foul up or mess up, and God's unconditional promise will never fail. Then there's the conditional promise... you better not fumble, stumble, foul up, mess up, because conditional promises depend on our faith and faithfulness. The word of the Lord came to Solomon with... "if you will walk, obey and keep... then", so you need to look for the "if". 
From the first step of salvation, we are given many conditional promises. “...if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." - Romans 10:9... or If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." - 1 John 1:9... or "If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you." - John 15:7 You see, not all promises are unconditional, so you need to look for the "if".