Hezekiah: A devoted man of God, Part 1

Hezekiah: A devoted man of God called to exceptional achievement and advancement of Judah!


What are the chances a son raised by an evil father would turn out to be a godly man?

Boys want to be like their fathers. The strength, morality, and character of fathers is the strongest indicator of the on-going stability of a society. Why? Because boys want to be like their fathers. 

Usually, a corrupt father will produce corrupt sons. But in rare cases, a son may witness the pain and suffering caused by his corrupt father and secretly declare to himself, ‘I am not going to be like my father.’ In these cases, the son may look away from his father as an example and take on the character of another role model. In some cases, it may be his mother.  

I distinctly recall as a child, early every morning, in the same house, throughout my entire childhood and adolescence, walking across the hall from my bedroom to the bathroom. Each morning, through sleepy eyes, I would peer down the hallway to the living room and see my mom, sitting in the same chair, Bible in her lap, and cup of steaming coffee in her hand.  

Is it any coincidence that every morning now as an adult, I sit in my same chair, Bible before me on my desk and steaming coffee on a coaster, spending time with God, just as my mom modeled for me as a child? 

Moms have the unique opportunity to bond and form a level of intimacy with their sons that dads don’t usually have. Therefore, they have the unique privilege to influence the godly development of their sons and by extension, a godly generation.   

 

Tale of Two Kings 

Who would have guessed that one of the greatest leaders in the history of God’s chosen people was the son of an evil and corrupt Father? 

My recent study of 2 Chronicles 29-32, reveals a tale of two kings; two very different kings even though one is the father and the other the son. One led Judah through the best of times and the other, through the worst of times: one led through a season of revival and the other, a season of decline; one succumbed to the threat of foreign enemies and the other triumphed.  

Hezekiah was the son of King Ahaz. King Ahaz was a bad king. He was a weak leader with evil and selfish intent. He allowed the worship of false gods to flourish. He sanctioned alters and high places erected throughout the land, while ignoring worship to the true God in the holy city of Jerusalem. 

In every city of Judah, he (Ahaz) made high places to burn incense to others gods, and provoked the Lord, the God of his fathers, to anger. 28:25 

In contrast, here’s how the son of Ahaz as introduced in 29:1: 

Hezekiah became king when he was twenty-five years old; and he reigned twenty-nine year in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah. He did right in the sight of the Lord …  

Interesting that the text highlights his mother, not his father. It’s also interesting that his mother’s father, and therefore, Hezekiah’s grandfather was the faithful prophet of God, Zechariah. What I believe is inferred here is that Hezekiah’s godly influence and training came from his mother. Hezekiah was a momma’s boy — and he was greatly blessed to be one to Abijah, daughter of Zechariah. 

At age twenty-five, Hezekiah was appointed king and because of his training and development, he took immediate and far-reaching action to transform a declining country. At the young age of twenty-five, he was prepared to be king. God used the queen, Hezekiah’s mother, to influence him, train him, and develop him into a leader; a godly leader. She influenced Hezekiah and therefore, influenced the amazing events that took place after Hezekiah became king.  

 

What a mom she must have been! And what a leader Hezekiah turned out to be!  

Today, our country needs men of God more than ever! We certainly need men of God in the pulpits proclaiming and living out the truth of God. But we also need men of God, men of godly courage and fortitude in the marketplace as well. Do not miss the future posts on Hezekiah as you consider your calling to rise up and be counted as a man of God in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. More on Hezekiah next time.  

 

Father, you called Hezekiah to rise up and be counted at a time when godly leadership was badly needed. You called him for such a time and you have called us at this time as well. As lights, help us shine in the darkness of corruption and immorality that we see all around us. As salt, may our godly character, actions and words, preserve a remnant of righteousness and morality and gospel truth. There is much is against us but greater is He who is within us than is in this world … through the grace and power of the Spirit of God. Amen! 


Bloodshed Prevented! God Sent a Woman, part 2

Bloodshed Prevented! God Sent a Woman, Part 2


Have you ever found yourself in the middle of someone else’s fight?

Here’s the scene: a rich sheepherder named Nabal speaks disrespectfully about David to his messengers. Learning of this, David and his men set out to wipe out Nabal, his family, and all his servants. Filled with anger and vengeance, David is heading straight into some good old-fashioned sinful disobedience. David is wrong for sure. But Nabal—a selfish, foolish, and ignorant man—has brought this upon himself.   

Folks, this is going to end badly. The stubbornness and pride of two men at war with each other is going to result in the bloodshed of many innocent people. What is needed is a calming presence to step in and provide influence over these two irrational men.

 

This story needs a hero! Even better, a heroine!

But one of [Nabal’s] young men told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, “Behold, David sent messengers from the wilderness to greet our master, and he scorned them. Yet the men were very good to us, and we were not insulted, nor did we miss anything as long as we went about with them, while we were in the fields. They were a wall to us both by night and by day, all the time we were with them tending the sheep.Now therefore, know and consider what you should do, for evil is plotted against our master and against all his household; and he is such a worthless man that no one can speak to him.”  

1 Samuel 25:14-17  

  

Fortunately, there is one rational and reasonable person in this story. Thank God for Abigail, Nabal’s wife. She is the story’s superstar—intelligent, resourceful, honorable, persuasive, and beautiful in appearance (verse 3). Pretty much the total package. How did a schmuck like Nabal land such a beautiful and intelligent woman?

 

A Funny Thing Happened to David on the Way to Nabal’s House  

With two hot-headed men on a collision course toward destruction, God raises up Abigail!   

Nabal’s servants hear that David and his men are on their way to seek vengeance. They know that Nabal is a worthless man that no one can speak to (verse 17), so they go to Abigail. Without informing or including her husband (I hear that wives do that on occasion), Abigail takes action. She and her workers immediately gather provisions and set out to meet David and his men.   

When Abigail meets up with David, he is still fuming with anger. She dismounts and bows before him. In this case, the fact that David is a sucker for a pretty face works in her favor. Abigail’s beauty may have caused David to pause, but it is her words that change everything.   

When Abigail saw David, she hurried and dismounted from her donkey, and fell on her face before David and bowed herself to the ground. She fell at his feet and said, “On me alone, my lord, be the blame. And please do not let my lord pay attention to this worthless man, Nabal, for as his name is, so is he. Nabal is his name and folly is with him; but, I your maidservant, did not see the young men of my lord whom you sent.”   

1 Samuel 25:23-25  

  

Choice words melt anger away 

A brilliant negotiator, Abigail speaks sincerely, eloquently, and persuasively. First, she surprises David by taking full responsibility for her husband’s rude behavior: On me alone, my lord, be the blame…. Please do not pay attention to the worthless man, Nabal…  I, your maidservant, did not see the men you sent” (verses 24-25). 

When a person takes full responsibility for a situation, it has a way of melting anger and tension. That’s what happens here. Abigail takes David’s attention off Nabal, and David’s rage begins to diminish. Then Abigail makes a statement that must have been like a wake-up call to David. In sales, we call this a presumptive close! We speak presumptively as if the prospect has already decided to buy.  

Since the Lord has restrained you from shedding blood and from avenging yourself by your own hand, now then let your enemies and those who seek evil against my lord, be as Nabal. Now let this gift, which your maidservant has brought to my lord, be given to the young men who accompany my lord. Please forgive the transgression of your maidservant; for the Lord will certainly make for my lord an enduring house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the Lord, and evil will not be found in you all your days.  

1 Samuel 25:26-28  

Abigail knows the biblical principle of leaving revenge to the Lord. David has adhered to this principle in the past; when Saul was before him in the cave, David spared his life. Here, Abigail simply reminds David of what he knows. Appealing to his conscience she encourages him to follow biblical law. Then, without hesitating, she asks for forgiveness: “Please forgive the transgression of your maidservant, for the Lord will certainly make for my lord [David] an enduring house… and evil will not be found in you all your days” (verse 28).   

  

David’s heart is melting!

With her carefully chosen words, Abigail keeps him from falling into evil. In verse 32, David says to Abigail, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel who sent you this day to meet me, and blessed be your discernment, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodshed and from avenging myself by my own hand.”   

So how does all this drama end? Ten days later God strikes Nabal dead, and David later marries Abigail … and they lived happily ever after. Well, not exactly. Nabal does die, and David does marry Abigail—but happily ever after? Abigail is solid as a rock. David, on the other hand, is a volatile mess. See 1 and 2 Samuel for the full story.  

  

How, Then, Should We Live?   

Jesus calls us to be peacemakers—as Abigail was. We are allowed to be angry, but we are to sin not (Ephesians 4:26).  We are to leave justice to God (Romans 12:19).   

 Our world is full of injustice and hypocrisy, evidence of the downward spiral initiated when sin entered the earth. Life will never be fair on this side of heaven, yet our mandate is to live the way God expects us to live regardless of what others do in response or how they treat us. 

 

Lord, Abigail is truly a woman of excellence. May we apply the principles of positive influence that she models. May we be peacemakers, encouraging others to avoid sin and bad decisions. As Your servants, may we allow Your Word to increase our wisdom. Help us live with discernment and humility in our daily interactions with others—all for Your glory. Amen!   


God Sent a Woman! Abigail to the Rescue 

God Sent a Woman! Abigail to the Rescue


When two hot-headed men are on a collision course of destruction, God sends a woman!

Have you ever given to someone who took without gratitude? You gave time, effort, money or resources willing and they didn’t even give a simple ‘thank you’ in return? Even worse, have you ever been kind to someone who returned your kindness with disdain?

We are taught ‘be kind and you’ll receive kindness in return.’ Generally speaking, this is true. But are we prepared to receive contempt and disrespect in return for our kindness? David may have been a ‘man after God’s own heart,’ but in the story before us today, he wasn’t prepared to respond to the disrespect he received from a man whom he had shown kindness.

Here’s some context: Before David was officially crowned king of Israel, he spent many years hiding into the wilderness from king Saul. Why was Saul hunting down David? Simply put, he was insecure and envious of David.

Saul’s insecurity and jealousy drove him to pursue David with the intent of killing him. Saul was bent on removing David as his competition for the popularity of the people and the position of king. So while David was hiding in the wilderness, along with some of his loyal followers, he had to be industrious in order to survive.

This story of David, Nabal and Abigail is filled with drama; kindness, disdain, anger, revenge — and then, the winsome and delightful character of a godly woman saves the day!  

 

Now there was a man in Maon whose business was in Carmel; and the man was very rich, and he had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. And it came about while he was shearing his sheep in Carmel (now the man’s name was Nabal, and his wife’s name was Abigail and the woman was intelligent and beautiful in appearance, but the man was harsh and evil in his dealings, and he was a Calebit), David heard in the wilderness that Nabal was shearing his sheep.

So David sent ten young men; and David said to the young men, “Go up to Carmel, visit Nabal and greet him in my name; and thus you shall say, ‘Have a long life, peace be to you, and peace be to your house, and peace be to all that you have. Now I have heard that you have shearers; now your shepherds have been with us and we have not insulted them, nor have they missed anything all the days they were in Carmel. Ask your young men and they will tell you. Therefore, let my young men find favor in your eyes, for we have come on a festive day. Please give whatever you find at hand to yours and to your son David.”   1 Samuel 25:2-8 

  

These lines are the beginning of a truly amazing story. We will meet an evil bonehead of a man and a most beautiful and intelligent woman. We will also see David digress from his godly character into anger and revenge. 

    

Two Hot-Headed Men Walk into a Bar …   

A wealthy man named Nabal owns 3,000 sheep and 1,000 goats that wander into the wilderness area where David and his men camp out. Some of Nabal’s men tend to the sheep, but apparently there’s not enough to keep all the livestock safe. David and his men take it upon themselves to help the men. The entire time they guard Nabal’s sheep against predators and thieves, David’s men trust that the owner will at some point grant them kindness and reward them with provisions.   

When it’s time for Nabal to shear his sheep, David sends a few of his men to request provisions from him. The text introduces Nabal and his wife Abigail in this way: the woman was intelligent and beautiful in appearance, but the man was harsh and evil in his dealings (verse 3).  

 

What Is Nabal’s Response to David’s Men? 

Nabal answered David’s servants and said, “Who is David? And who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants today who each are breaking away from his master. Shall I then take my bread and my water and my meat that I have slaughtered for my shearers, and give it men whose origins I do not know?”  1 Samuel 25:10-11  

  

Yikes! This is not the response David expected. Additional text indicates that Nabal’s men have told him of the kindness and protection David had provided them, but Nabal doesn’t care.  

  

He Said What???  

When David hears about Nabal’s response, he is infuriated and vows to take full revenge on Nabal, his household, and all his servants. He would leave no one alive! And, yes, this is the same David who previously refused to take Saul’s life into his own hands and left revenge to the Lord.  

In Scripture, the volatility of David’s humanness is always before us. Yet later in this chapter, we’ll see why David is called a man after God’s own heart.  But for now, we have two hot-headed men on a collision course of a life-and-death showdown. Who will intervene?   

God sends a woman.  

  

Learning Alert 

Like David, we make mistakes. Our first thought about a situation may not be the best thought. So, as we journey through life, may we always pause and ask God what we should do.

Living a godly life often means not returning anger for anger, and that’s hard to do. God tells us not to lean on our own understanding, but to trust in His guidance (see Proverbs 3:5-6). When we do that, our light shines in our homes, our neighborhoods, and our workplaces. 

 

Lord, we’re reminded that Your gifts of love and grace are not dependent on our perfect decisions or consistent God-honoring actions. Like David, we are human. When we stray into jealousy, anger, revenge, evil intent, and foolishness, may we quickly come to our senses and surrender our emotions to You. Amen!  


When God’s Man is Tested - God’s Man, part 5

When God’s Man is Tested


Some days, it seems we are tested on every front!

I was a mediocre high school student. My M.O was ‘just do enough to pass.’  When tests and exams were announced, I would scan the material the night before (or the morning of …) and glean enough information to get by. For me, C’s were fine and B’s were good. I had a system of minimal effort; just do enough to stay out of trouble. 

My system, however, had a serious flaw; not being prepared for the dreaded pop quiz. The pop quiz messed up everything for me. A scheduled test? No problem. A pop quiz? I wasn’t in a state of being prepared. 

 

In the area of spiritual maturity, the pop quiz should be expected. The man of God should be prepared. 

Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men. Let all that you do be done in love. I Corinthians 16:13 

In my recent posts, we have been considering the character, courage, and confidence of God’s man. I certainly don’t mean to ignore the women of God, but I have sensed a calling recently to speak to men directly in these posts and call them to rise up.  

 

Here’s what we know so far regarding the character of God’s man:  

  • A Man of Godly character aspires to be useful for the work God calls him to. 

If anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. 2 Timothy 2:21 

  • A man of Godly character is forged into usefulness under the watchful eye of God!  

He (Hezekiah) trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel; so that after him there was none like him among all the kings of Judah … for He clung to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments. And the Lord was with Him; wherever he went he prospered. 2Kings 18:5-7  

  • A man of Godly character prays, looks to God for guidance, and then takes action. 

Then Jonathan said … ‘Come and let us cross over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; perhaps the Lord will work for us, for the Lord is not restrained to save by many or by few.’ 1 Samuel 14:6. 

  • As God’s man journeys along the path of usefulness, he encounters tests of character.  

Consider Joseph: It came about after these events that his master’s wife looked with desire at Joseph, and she said, ‘Lie with me.’ But he refused … Genesis 39:7,8

Consider Daniel: But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank … Then the king gave orders, and Daniel was brought in and cast into the lions’ den. The king spoke and said to Daniel, ‘your God whom you constantly serve will Himself deliver you.’ Daniel 1:8; 6:16

Consider Mordecai from the book of Esther: All the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate bowed down and paid homage to Haman; for so the king had commanded concerning him. But Mordecai neither bowed down nor paid homage. Esther 3:2 

Joseph, Daniel and Mordecai have something in common. They were men of God who rose to great power in foreign nations. Joseph rose to second in power to the Pharaoh of Egypt; Daniel rose to second in power to the king(s) of Babylon; Mordecai rose to second in power to the king of Persia. These are our examples of men of great worldly achievement who remained faithful to God throughout their rise to the top. 

Every man of God in the Bible was tested. The great women of God were tested as well. Consider the testing of Abigail, Hannah, Ruth and Esther, to name a few. These tests are part of our journey. The apostle Peter spoke of severe trials and difficulties when he encouraged the believers to ‘not be surprised by the fiery ordeal among you,’ I Peter 4:12. 

The tests that God sends our way are never pre-announced with date and time. They are the pop quizzes of life. Therefore, God’s man is to be prepared. He prepares his heart, mind, and will by developing a biblical world-view accompanied by a godly character of fortitude and courage.  

 

His biblical world-view provides wisdom to process decisions correctly when tested and his character provides courage to act accordingly. 

Do you aspire to be God’s man? Men of God, rise up!

But know that the Lord has set apart the godly man for Himself. Proverbs 4:3 

 

How does a man of God prepare for the pop quizzes of life? 

  • God’s man nourishes his heart with worship to love God!  
  • God’s man feeds his mind with the Word to know God,  
  • God’s man surrenders his will to the Spirit to obey God 

 

Father, the people we encounter daily are silently longing to be led. They need the guidance of a person of God to live out the truth and to speak the truth in love. I ask that Men of God reading and listening to these words would rise up, renew their commitment to You and take steps to prepare and walk closely with You.  When men can’t be found, raise up godly women such as you did with Abigail, Hannah, Ruth, and Esther. We are confident in You and in the work you are doing in all of our lives. With hearts of gratitude and praise, may we glorify You with our lives. Amen! 


Humble and Confident!

Humble and Confident!


Should we be known as being humble or being confident? How about both! 

I have a long-time friend of 20 plus years. His name is Dave. Many years ago we worked together. We’ve been separated geographically now for many years and don’t talk often.  Nevertheless, when we connect, it is easy and always enjoyable. We have a bit of a strange bond that has endured the test of time. Our mutual admiration is especially interesting in that we are different in so many ways. I’m a devoted Christian and he is an agnostic, as such. I am socially conservative and he is liberal. I’m a republican and he’s a democrat. Nevertheless, we have always liked each other.

I have always considered him to be extremely talented; much more than me. He is highly skilled in business and sales; he is extremely persuasive and influential. Personally, he is charming off the charts. Everyone loves him and wants to be with him. To top it off, every time we play golf, he always manages to beat my score. 

With this context, you might find it interesting (at least I do) that one day he said to me, ‘you are the most self-confident, self-assured person I know.’ 

That statement, coming from him, has stuck with me. You see, I know myself and I know how I struggle with insecurity and often lack confidence.

So, when I read Isaiah 36:4 recently, I said ahhhhhh, maybe that’s it. Maybe that explains why Dave said I was self-confident; which actually isn’t self-confidence at all: 

 

Then Rabshakeh (representative of King Sennacherib of Assyria), said to them, ‘say to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria, ‘what is this confidence that you have?’” 

 

All the nations and kings were cowering in fear before the great and powerful king of Assyria. But Hezekiah wasn’t.

 

Why?

For Hezekiah, it wasn’t his self-confidence that the king of Assyria observed, it was his confidence in God. We Christians are often insecure, unsure, and even negative about ourselves and the difficulties of our lives. Just like everyone else, we suffer the effects of this fallen world and our fallen nature reminds us daily of our personal weaknesses. But even in our fallen-ness, the Spirit is working in us to remind us and teach us that He is on the throne and He is in control of all the affairs of our lives. 

When we move toward the Spirit, seek Him in His Word and prayer and worship, and walk with Him, a sense of confidence begins to overtake us. Then, just like the king of Assyria noticed Hezekiah’s confidence, others will observe our confidence (in God) as well. They may not always know the true source of our confidence, but over time, God will give us the opportunity to share it.  

It’s really quite simple, although not always easy to live out. The source of our confidence is God. Period. May the Lord grant us quiet confidence in Him!. 

 

How was it that the Assyrian King noticed Hezekiah’s confidence? 

He (Hezekiah) trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel; so that after him there was none like him among all the kings of Judah, not among those who were before him. For he clung to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments which the Lord had commanded Moses. 2 Kings 18:5,6. 

 

Consider these other words of courage and confidence:

 

Moses speaking to the people before entering the promised land:  

Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6  

 

God speaking to Joshua:  

Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9 

 

Joab to the Israelite army before going into a battle against great odds:  

Be strong, and let us show ourselves courageous for the sake of our people and for the cities of our God; and may the Lord do what is good in His sight. 2 Samuel 10:12 

 

King David to his son Solomon:  

Then David said to his son Solomon, ‘Be strong and courageous, and act; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord God, my God is with you. He will not fail you nor forsake you until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished.’ 2 Chronicles 28:20. 

 

Father, may we keep these words close to our hearts; ‘The Lord is the One who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.’ Lord, only when we show humble surrender to You are You then able to use us in this world to show our confidence in You! Give us fortitude; give us courage; give us humble confidence in you. Amen!


Courage!

Courage!


When the teacher asks a question in a typical first-grade class, all the hands go up hoping the teacher will call on them. In the sixth-grade class, when the teacher asks a question, maybe one or two students raise their hands.

What changed?

Our childlike courage, curiosity, and fearlessness diminish every year as our experiences of criticism, condescension and ridicule etch their grooves of painful tributaries into our souls. In addition to the negative words of others, our real-life experiences of disappointment, defeat, and failure feed our psyche’s compounding fear; fear to dream, fear to hope, fear to take action. 

 

Men and Women of God, you are many years now since first grade. What is the state of your soul today? 

Courage is fear that has said it prayer! Jill Briscoe

When you look out into the world and prayerfully conceive your future, what do you see? Perhaps your human nature causes you to look forward through a smudged-lens telescope of fear and doubt. Your compounded experiences of fear and failure cloud your vision. What are you to do? 

 

Consider this my friends: 

  • Your thoughts of God are too small! 
  • Your thoughts of your life in Christ are too small! 
  • Consequently, your thoughts about God’s calling upon your life are too small! 

 

Allow me to reveal to you a vivid contrast of fear and courage. The timestamp is approximately 1000BC. The text is I Samuel 13, 14. The commander and chief of Israel is the weak-hearted King Saul. The enemy of Israel is the Philistines. The honor of God is at stake.

 

Now the Philistines assembled to fight with Israel, 30,000 chariots and 6000 horsemen, and people like the sand which is on the seashore in abundance … when the men of Israel saw that they were in trouble, they hid themselves in caves, in thickets, in cliffs, in cellars, and in pits … But as for Saul … all the people following him trembled. 

 

This is fear. This is being scared to death. This is an Israelite army following a weak-kneed leader. 

While the army hid, Jonathan, the son of Saul, said to his young armor-bearer, come and let us cross over to the Philistines’ garrison that is on the other side. But he (Jonathan) did not tell his father. 

 

Friends, I have a simple question for you; is your life characterized by hiding (in caves, in thickets, in cliffs, in cellars, and in pits) or are you moving forward and crossing over the garrison to the other side

  • Your thoughts of God are too small! 
  • Your thoughts of your life in Christ are too small! 
  • Consequently, your thoughts about God’s calling upon your life are too small! 

 

Then Jonathan said to the young man who was carrying his armor, ‘Come and let us cross over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; perhaps the Lord will work for us, for the Lord is not restrained to save by many or by few.’ His armor bearer said to him, ‘Do all that is in your heart; turn yourself, and here I am with you according to your desire.’ 

 

This is courage. This is leadership. This is fear that has said its prayer.

What was the source of His courage? Jonathon knew what his father didn’t know. The young armor-bearer knew what the Israelite army didn’t know. 

Jonathan knew that the Lord is not restrained to save by many or by few.  

Regarding the endeavors we embark upon, our confidence lies in the affirmations of many people and the volume of our resources. But God is not restrained by many or by few. 

Jonathan’s confidence was not in the number of soldiers or in the volume of weapons and horses. His confidence was in God, who is not restrained by human resources, big or small. Jonathan went forward and the Philistines fell down before him. Then the earth shook and the rest of the army fled in fear. 

God can and He does, at times, choose to use just one person; one person of courage and faith. One person who looks beyond the compounded fears of their souls and places their confidence in God. A person who has a lofty view of God and therefore, a lofty view of the plan that God has for their lives. 

Learning Alert: When Jonathan crossed over by faith, he didn’t know for sure what God would do. Remember, he said, Come and let us cross over … perhaps the Lord will work for us. 

Jonathan had faith but he wasn’t presumptuous. He simply knew that God wanted him to cross over, but he didn’t know how or what God was going to do. Remember, courage is simply fear that has said its prayer. Once prayed up, courage takes action. 

 

Father, you first call us to be humble servants of You. Once you have melted our hearts with your grace and forgiveness, you lift our heads and turn our eyes toward the hills and tell us to go. The hills we are climbing are filled with dangers and difficulties. Nevertheless, this is the place you have called us to; our families, our workplace, our neighborhoods, our community, our mission field. Give us strength, wisdom and courage to follow where you lead us. Amen


God’s Man! Part 2

God’s Man! Part 2


Men, have you ever allowed a beautiful woman to break down your convictions?

The Heart of God’s Man! 

Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 4:23 

As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart. Proverbs 27:19 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3.5,6 

 

Samson 

When I think about matters of the heart and misplaced passions, I’m reminded of Samson. Samson was a man’s man! He was a man of great physical strength. His strength was a blessing from God; however, arrogance, lust, and self-confidence would be his downfall.  

Samson did, however, have a certain devotion to God; his strength was used by God many times over. But in issues of the heart, Samson was weak. Judges 14:1-4 says: 

Then Samson went down to Timnah and saw a woman in Timnah, one of the daughters of the Philistines. So he came back and told his father and mother, ‘I saw a woman in Timnah, one of the daughters of the Philistines; now therefore, get her for me as a wife.’  

Then his father and his mother said to him, ‘Is there no woman among the daughters of your relatives, or among all our people, that you go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines? But Samson said to his father, ‘Get her for me, for she looks good to me.’

Yikes! This is not going to end well.  

(Note: This wife is not the infamous Delilah. She will emerge later in the story).  

This narrative gives us a glimpse into the divided heart of Samson. Samson still had a heart to be used by God but he also allowed his eyes to be enticed by the beauty of this Philistine woman. He was playing the dangerous game of a divided heart.  

ALERT: Men, you can be deceived into thinking that you can float in and out of worldly passions while maintaining a relationship with God. You tell yourself; I know this is wrong but deep in my heart I love God and want to serve him. Soon I will get my life back to being whole. But for now, God knows I love Him even though I’m doing wrong. 

Technically, the grace of God may allow you to flow back and forth from God to sin and then back to God. But it won’t end well. You must call upon God’s grace and the accountability of Christian brothers to break the cycle. Yes, you can cling to God’s grace but if you remain defiant, you must ask yourself if you really are in God’s grace at all? Paul told Titus in 2:11; 

For the grace of God has appeared bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age… 

God’s grace not only saves us but teaches us to live obediently under the discipleship of Jesus. We are called to embrace God’s grace to be saved and continue to embrace God’s grace to be sanctified. 

 

Back to Samson: Here he goes again! 

Later, Samson was enticed by another beautiful woman. Samson married the beautiful yet evil and scheming Delilah. Her goal was to bring him down. He married her but he resisted giving her his whole heart. This is important to understand. During this early stage of his marriage, he was straddling both sides of the fence: following God’s laws on one side and flirting with the world of Delilah on the other side. This is a dangerous place to reside. 

Things turned ugly for Samson when he put his guard down and gave his heart to Delilah. Delilah begged him and begged him to reveal his secret and bear his heart. In Judges 16, we see that she wore him down: 

Then she said to him, how can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me?” 16:15 

Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever put yourself in a place where a beautiful woman could wear you down? Samson finally caved in and gave himself away to her, disclosing the secrets of his heart.  

It came about when she pressed him daily with her words and urged him, that his soul was annoyed to death. So, he told her all that was in his heart16:16, 17. 

No longer was Samson’s heart divided between God and Delilah. He fully opened his heart to her. Delilah immediately went to the men of Philistine. Read the words that Delilah spoke: 

When Delilah saw that he had told her all that was in his heart, she sent and called the lords of the Philistines, saying, ‘Come up once more, for he has told me all that is in his heart.’ Judges 16:18. 

That evening, Samson laid his head on the lap of Delilah and fell asleep. Laying his head on Delilah’s lap is a physical representation of his trust; his heart was surrendered to her. He placed himself in a vulnerable position, thus, transferring his heart, his trust, and his hope to her over God. 

Metaphorically speaking, Samson placed his trust and hope in the lustful pursuits of this world. What happened to Samson could happen to us. Samson gave his heart to the passions of this world and while he was in this position of vulnerability, Delilah ripped out his heart and gave it to his enemies.  

 

Friends, do not place your head in the lap of Delilah!  

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it, Proverbs 4:23. 

 

Father, there is so much in this world to distract and entice us. At every turn and every temptation, always lead us back to Proverbs 3:5,6; Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Amen! 


He’s a real Man’s Man!

He’s a real Man’s Man!


Have you ever heard someone say ‘He’s a real man’s man’!

Tucked away at the end of I Corinthians, Paul defines a man’s man! Or should I say, Paul defines God’s man!

 

Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. I Corinthians 16:13.14 

 

For an Old Testament reference, consider the words of Joab, King David’s general, directed toward his soldiers before a crucial battle. 

 

Be strong, and let us show ourselves courageous for the sake of our people and for the cities of our God; and may the Lord do what is good in His sight.  2 Samuel 10:12. 

 

Many years ago, I knew a man who was a physical hulk of a man. Not only was he a towering man of 6’5”, but he was lean and muscle-bound. Physically, he was quite intimidating. My 5’8’ skinny frame was quite a contrast to him. However, I considered him somewhat insecure in his personality and shallow in his character.  

 

Therefore, it struck me one day when a friend of mine described him to someone else by saying, ‘you need to meet this guy, he’s a real man’s man.’ It struck me because first of all, with my short frame and skinny arms, I knew no one would ever describe me that way. But secondly, is a man really a ‘man’s man’ because of his physical stature? I hope not, because I’ll never qualify. 

 

God’s Man 

 

This story brings to mind the power of influence that physical appearance plays in our pre-judgment process of others.  I can’t help being reminded of the story of King Saul in the book of I Samuel. Saul was a hulk of a man as well. The people looked at him and wanted him as king. Why? Simply because he looked the part. He was big, strong, and handsome. The people looked at him with eyes that could only see the outside. They didn’t know that on the inside, he was insecure in his personality and shallow in his character. 

 

So, God gave in to the request of the people and allowed Saul to become the first king of Israel. Meanwhile, God told the high priest Samuel to go and meet the sons of Jesse because among them was Israel’s future king. The following verses are from I Samuel 16. 

 

Now the Lord said to Samuel…’ fill your horn with oil and go; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have selected a king for Myself among his sons.  

 

Samuel was the high priest at the time of king of Saul. He knew Saul was a disaster of a king. He knew that despite Saul’s kingly appearance, he was morally weak and insecure. Nevertheless, Samuel still fell into the same ‘appearance’ trap that all of us do. Samuel initially considered Jesse’s oldest and strongest son as the possible king of Israel. 

 

When they entered (the house of Jesses), Samuel looked at Eliab and thought, ‘Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him.’ 

 

The text reveals Samuel’s thoughts. Of course, in Samuel’s mind, Eliab ‘looks’ like the right choice. Just like King Saul had appeared to be the right choice for the people. We have strong biases toward appearance, don’t we? 

 

But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. 

 

BOOM! There it is. God looks at the heart. 

 

So, what is the description of a Man’s Man? Or, more importantly, what is the description of God’s Man? Back to our text:  

 

Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. I Corinthians 16:13.14 

 

Father, our world needs men more than ever before. Real men have clear minds; they are on the alert, watching and protecting those under his care. They also are men of the Word standing firm on the principles of our faith. True men are disciples of Jesus; they are strong and courageous. Lastly, they are strong yet always loving, caring, and kind. Love is the firm foundation of a man of God. Father, raise up such men around us all. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

 

 

 


The Rock

The Rock


Have you ever chased a storm? 

Luke 6:46-49

I don’t understand storm chasers. Storms will come in our lives without chasing after them. 

 

‘Why do you call me Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. 

 

But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great. 

 

There is a unique quality that is seen in every true believer of Christ. They go beyond the acknowledgment of God’s existence and beyond a verbal confession of the Lord to a place of simple obedience. Of course, our obedience is by no means perfect. Somedays, we feel like we have been fairly obedient and other days, not so much. We go through seasons of faithfulness and seasons of unfaithfulness. Our levels of obedience ebb and flow. 

 

But there is always within us a yearning to do what is right in the sight of God. The process of growing in Christ as new creations in Him begins with a yearning toward obedience. 

 

The Rock 

 

In this passage in Luke, Jesus immediately acknowledges the unique quality of obedience in His followers in two ways: one in a negative light and the other, positive. 

 

Negative Manner: ‘Why do you call me Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? 

 

Positive Manner: Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and acts on them … 

 

Jesus goes on to explain the eternal importance of building our lives on the rock. Notice, He doesn’t say that building our lives on our own obedience is the key. No, because our spiritual growth in the area of obedience varies person by person. Religious individuals who have not personally received Christ by faith can and do live moral lives. But we must ask the question, ‘what is the foundation of their moral living?’ The foundation is the key! 

 

The foundation of our lives is not our own actions; the foundation of our lives must be Jesus, the ROCK of our salvation! 

 

There’s an old hymn that reflects this truth beautifully: 

 

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. 

I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. 

On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand. 

 

When darkness veils his lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace, in every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil. 

 

His oath, His covenant, His blood, supports me in the overwhelming flood, when all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay. 

 

The Storms will Come 

 

Let’s be prepared, the storms will come. 

 

Another question we should ask is this: what exactly is the storm that Jesus is referring to? 

It seems that Jesus is referring to the coming judgment seat of God. In Corinthians 3, Paul speaks of the foundation as being Jesus Christ and that some build upon the foundation with gold, silver, and precious stones. But others build upon it with wood, hay, and straw. Paul then says that THE DAY (referring to judgment day) will test it with fire. Our hope in that DAY is nothing less than Jesus’ blood and His righteousness. 

 

Jesus is our ROCK during the final judgment. But the Lord is also our rock day-by-day in the troubles we face on this earth. In response to God’s sustaining power over his enemies, King David lifted up praise to God when He said; 

 

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge. 2 Samuel 22 

 

Also, Psalms 46 says; 

 

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth should change, and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea. 

 

Lord God, the storms will most definitely come. Thank you that haven’t left us on our own to withstand the storms in our own strength. Even when the wind is fierce and the waves are crashing on the outside, all is calm inside the cleft of the rock of our salvation. Keep us close to You throughout the storms of this life and well prepared for the fire of the final judgment. At that time on the DAY of judgment, may You simply say to us, ‘well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your master. Amen!