Monday, July 2, 2018

Never Too Late





Never Too Late

As fathers we want the best for our children and as Christian fathers we know that the best isn’t measured by money, power, or prestige. Hezekiah was a very good and godly king whose son Manasseh succeeded him on the throne. Despite the excellent example Hezekiah showed his son, Manasseh went on to be a mostly bad king (for 55 years!) We can safely assume that Hezekiah would have wanted better for his son.  But God’s stories always allow enough time for people to repent.
2 Chronicles 33:2, 3
He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, following the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites. He rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had destroyed.

Things to think about:
·      Hezekiah was an excellent king.  He helped lead a revival in the land, turning away from idol worship and back to the God of Israel.
·      Yet his son, Manasseh, chose a different path.
o   Why do you think children from “good families” sometimes do not follow in the faith of their parents?
o   Has this happened (or is this happening) in your own family?  If so, how does it make you feel?
§  How have you tried to deal with it? 
§  Has your strategy changed over time?
·      I suspect that even before Manasseh was born, his father, being a godly man, prayed for his children.
o   James 5:16 – The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
·      Some times we have to come to the end of ourselves to come to the beginning of God’s outstretched hand.
o   Or as we say Down South, you have to get sick and tired of being sick and tired.
§  Have you had this experience?
·      Some folks are slower than others so about 50 years later in the story we come to this passage:
o   2 Chronicles 33:10-13 – The Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people but they paid no attention. So the Lord brought against them the army commanders of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh prisoner, put a hook in his nose, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon.  In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his ancestors. And when he prayed to him, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea;
o   2 Peter 3:9 - The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
·      We see in other examples like the thief on a cross at Calvary, the prodigal son, and Jesus’ parable about the one lost sheep that God is in the saving business!
o   God will go to any and all limits to save that which is lost.
o   However, like Manasseh, one must humble himself and seek the forgiveness of God.
§  “and when he prayed, the LORD was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea”
·      If you’re the parent of a wayward child today, what encouragement do you take from today’s study?
·      If you’re the friend of someone struggling with their child’s unbelief, what encouragement would you offer them today?
·      Luke 19:10 – “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost.”



Monday, May 28, 2018

Water


In 1 Chronicles 11, we find David hunkered down in his battlefield headquarters. David has recently succeeded Saul as king of Israel and he is now fighting to protect the land God had given them.  During this time, David had two key assets: God was with him and he had a brave and loyal army.  David's Mighty Men were courageous on the battlefield and committed to him. Our story centers on a an interaction with David and three of his best men.

1 Chronicles 11:15-19
Three of the thirty chiefs came down to David to the rock at the cave of Adullam, while a band of Philistines was encamped in the Valley of Rephaim.  At that time David was in the stronghold, and the Philistine garrison was at Bethlehem. David longed for water and said, “Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem!”  So the Three broke through the Philistine lines, drew water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem and carried it back to David. But he refused to drink it; instead, he poured it out to the Lord.  “God forbid that I should do this!” he said. “Should I drink the blood of these men who went at the risk of their lives?” Because they risked their lives to bring it back, David would not drink it. Such were the exploits of the three mighty warriors.
Things to think about:
  • In the midst of the heat of battle, David was thirsty and had a desire for the water from his home town of Bethlehem.
    • What are some of the sights, smells, sounds, tastes you remember from where you grew up?  Do you remember the smell of your grandparent's house? 
  • David had the unquestioned loyalty of his men
    • When he said he wanted some water, there was no hesitation, but a reflexive response to satisfy his request
    • When have you been on the receiving end of that kind of courage or generosity or love?
      • How did it make you feel then?  How has it changed you?
  • Now we get to the really interesting part of the story.  The men come back with the water, a selfless gift that came at great personal risk.
    • But David refused to drink it! Instead he poured it out before the Lord.
    • Why do you think he would do such a thing?  
    • David was deeply humbled by their courage
      • Should I drink the blood of these men that risked their lives? Because they risked their lives, David would not drink it.
    • He did not elevate his appetite above their sacrifice.
    • David knew that it wasn't himself who was worthy of such devotion but only God.
      • How does this run counter to our culture of celebrity idolization?
  • Jesus knew what it was like to be thirsty too
    • In John 4 we have the story of the Samaritan woman at the well.  Jesus told her that everyone who drinks from man's wells will thirst again but he who drinks the water He gives will never thirst again
      • "Indeed the water I give them will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life"
  • The reality is we have a Savior who didn't just risk His blood but actually spilled it before God for our benefit
    • And this sacrifice wasn't to meet a temporal want but for our eternal need
    • Regularly I am too focused on my immediate wants and don't count the cost of my blessings.  Can you relate?
    • How can we refuse to indulge our wants and embrace Him with true worship?



Monday, May 14, 2018

Shadows and Reflections




Psalm 19 is a fascinating three-part psalm that has so much to teach us.  Its focus is on the light the Lord gives us to know what He has done, what He has said, and our response to Him “in light of that” (no pun intended). 

Psalm 19:8b – “The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.”

Things to think about:
His Works
·      The psalm begins speaking of the works of His hands in creating the Heavens
o   The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
    It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
    like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens
    and makes its circuit to the other;
    nothing is deprived of its warmth.

·      The work of His hands speaks of His glory and His creative power
o   Importantly, these works call out to man and declare there is a God
o   The atheist denies this and the idolater worships the creation instead of the creator
·      In what ways does nature speak to you about God?
·      How is His character revealed through His creation?

His Word
·      The psalmist moves on to Gods holy laws
o   The law of the Lord is perfect,
    refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
    making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right,
    giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
    giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is pure,
    enduring forever.
The decrees of the Lord are firm,
    and all of them are righteous.
10 They are more precious than gold,
    than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
    than honey from the honeycomb.
11 By them your servant is warned;
    in keeping them there is great reward.
·      There are so many adjectives here!
o   Perfect, refreshing, trustworthy, right, joyful, radiant, enduring, firm, righteous, precious, sweet, rewarding
o   Which aspects of God’s Word do you take comfort in?
o   How would you explain to an unbelieving friend that God’s rules are actually good?


His Will
·      Shadows and reflections - Our theme here is that God’s creation and His word provide light to man. We can either block the light and cast a shadow or reflect the light and increase it’s effects.
·       Shadows
o   But who can discern their own errors?
    Forgive my hidden faults.
13 Keep your servant also from willful sins;
    may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless,
    innocent of great transgression.
o    If I’m being honest, the first verse that caught my attention in this psalm was “but who can discern their own errors? Forgive me my hidden faults.”
o   In many cases we are blind to our own waywardness.
§  How has God revealed something to you that you were unaware of but needed attention? (Hint: it’s one reason He gives us wives!)
o   On the other hand, a lot of the time we know when we are not hitting the mark set before us.
o   Thanks be to God, the giver of all good things, He is eager to instruct and to forgive us if we will ask Him
·      Reflections
o   May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
o   Praise and gratitude are wonderful ways to amplify the light we have been given!
·      How does today’s study make you consider His Works, His Word, and His Will in a fresh way?