Friday, June 15, 2012
Welcome to Day 166 of our Life Journal!
Click here for today’s reading: 1 Kings 16; 2 Chronicles 15; 2 Chronicles 16; Colossians 1 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)
Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?
S.O.A.P = Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer
1 Kings 16, Israel is in upheaval, experiencing revolution after revolution. All are compared to Asa, King of Judah’s reign. It seems as though every king did more evil than the previous, “causing Israel to sin.”
v 31, “He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him. 32 He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria. 33 Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to arouse the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, than did all the kings of Israel before him.”
2 Chronicles 15:8 “When Asa heard these words and the prophecy of Azariah son of Oded the prophet, he took courage. He removed the detestable idols from the whole land of Judah and Benjamin and from the towns he had captured in the hills of Ephraim. He repaired the altar of the Lord that was in front of the portico of the Lord’s temple.
9 Then he assembled all Judah and Benjamin and the people from Ephraim, Manasseh and Simeon who had settled among them, for large numbers had come over to him from Israel when they saw that the Lord his God was with him.
10 They assembled at Jerusalem in the third month of the fifteenth year of Asa’s reign. 11 At that time they sacrificed to the Lord seven hundred head of cattle and seven thousand sheep and goats from the plunder they had brought back. 12 They entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their ancestors, with all their heart and soul. 13 All who would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, were to be put to death, whether small or great, man or woman. 14 They took an oath to the Lord with loud acclamation, with shouting and with trumpets and horns. 15 All Judah rejoiced about the oath because they had sworn it wholeheartedly. They sought God eagerly, and he was found by them. So the Lord gave them rest on every side.
2 Chronicles 16:7, “At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him: “Because you relied on the king of Aram and not on the Lord your God, the army of the king of Aram has escaped from your hand. 8 Were not the Cushites and Libyans a mighty army with great numbers of chariots and horsemen? Yet when you relied on the Lord, he delivered them into your hand.
9 For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.
You have done a foolish thing,
and from now on you will be at war.”
v 12 “In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was afflicted with a disease in his feet. Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the Lord, but only from the physicians.”
Colossians 1:15, “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.”
Colossians 1:27, “God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
I can’t get over how person after person followed after the Lord for years and years, then, something happens and they make a huge mistake (Asa’s pact with Ben-Hadad king of Aram by removing the silver and gold from the temple and not inquiring of the Lord. Ouch.) and seemly turn from God in an instant, to the point that Asa didn’t even turn to the Lord when he was ill!
Kind of makes me wonder, “Is there hope for any of us (to finish well)??” Moses didn’t get to enter the Promised Land. Solomon became cynical. King after king turned from the Lord. The people worshiped false gods, built high places and Asherah poles…
There, but for the grace of God, go I.
This now-common phrase was uttered by John Bradford, an English Reformer and martyr in the 1500’s (“There, but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford.”) while imprisoned in the Tower of London when he saw a criminal on his way to execution; Bradford was in the Tower of London for alleged crimes against Mary Tudor for his Protestant faith.
I often say this life of faith is a marathon, not a sprint. Now, as I am about to turn 50, I wonder how anyone stays the course for their whole lifetime.
I know how it works, and I know the right things to say… Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. Stay in his presence. Serve the Lord with gladness. Stay humble. One step at a time. One day at a time. Encourage one another daily. Pray without ceasing.
But I still wonder how anyone finishes well… This is a L O N G race. Much longer than 26.2 miles…
Billy Graham remains the shining example of one who ran the race well and finished well, too. (Even Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II had their doubts, if you read their memoirs/journals.)
He had an amazing impact on the kingdom and the world around him. It is believed that 3.2 MILLION people have accepted Christ due to Graham’s ministry. That’s incredible.
Presidents Harry S. Truman, Lyndon B. Johnson, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton sought his counsel, as did the Bush family. In 2010, President Barack Obama visited Rev. Graham at his home in Montreat, North Carolina where they “had a private prayer.”
He even fought for civil rights alongside Rev. Martin Luther King Jr, and invited him to speak at a SIXTEEN WEEK long revival in New York City. In the 50’s, that was unheard of, and quite a risk.
Somehow Graham managed to stay married, avoid scandal, and not get caught up in his own fame. Remaining a humble minister. (Still living at age 93!)
He still tops polls of most admired Americans.
That’s kingdom impact.
Graham must have taken these verses to heart… “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14
I think those are the key verses for all of us to hang on to. “I press on… toward the goal… to win the prize…”
That’s all I’m trying to do.
Glad to be pressing on with you…
“Christ in you, the hope of glory…”
Lord help me as I run this race. To be faithful minister of the Gospel. To make an impact on the kingdom and the world around me.