August 19th First Kings chapter 5

Although David wanted to build a temple to honor God, God would not allow it.  God told David that there was too much blood on his hands.  God then told David that his son would build the temple.  David began to put back materials for his son to build the temple even though David knew that he would never see it.

During this peaceful time in Israel we see that when Solomon requested cedars from Lebanon; not only did the king of Tyre make them available, but he was happy to do so.  God had put a soft spot in the surrounding King’s hearts for Solomon.  Solomon shows great leadership and organization in the building of the temple.  As we look at the astronomical number of workers that had been amassed, we realize that Solomon was able to set up a working and very effective chain of command.  The chapter today says that he had 3,300 foremen working under his command.  It is a good thing for the surrounding nations that they were at peace with Israel, because with Solomon’s leadership abilities and attention to detain, he would have been a magnificent general.

Once again we see the heart of Solomon in this chapter.  Solomon could have erected a pyramid as the kings in Egypt did in order to honor their own names.  Solomon could have had a palace constructed with every luxury known to man.  Solomon instead, decided to place his time, money and efforts on the work of the kingdom.  The temple was going to be the place for the mercy seat.  The mercy seat is a picture of Christ and His redemption.  Solomon cared more about the things of God that he did for his own wants and needs.   

 

Pastor Steve

August 18th First Kings chapter 4

I don’t know if I have an odd thought pattern, or if these thoughts come across every ones mind.  I have often pondered the question: “If I could live during any time period, what period would I choose.”  When I was younger I thought that the 1950’s in America seemed like a good time to be alive.  The U.S.was prosperous, crime seemed low and I imagined that life was just like it was portrayed on the television show Happy Days.  As I became a bit older I imagined instead of living in the middle east during the ministry of Jesus.  How amazing to see Him speak to the people, to be at the sermon on the mount, to see Lazarus raised from the dead, to watch the expressions on the faces of the blind who gained their sight or perhaps the deaf that gained hearing.  But as I grew even older I decided that I would not want to live in that era because most people rejected Him; why would I think any differently.  I am thankful that I was not put in that spot when all the leaders of the day were denouncing the Messiah, in which I would have probably followed suit.

But imagine living in Jerusalem during the reign of Solomon!  This is the only time, that I am aware of, that Israel is in the will of God and under His blessing for any length of time.  I see this time, during Solomon’s reign, to be a picture of what the future kingdom will be. There were no problems with neighboring nations, nor were there any wars.  The kings of the surrounding nations sent ambassadors to learn from this Godly leader in Israel.  The world saw the blessing of God on a people who obeyed Him, and it was attractive to the outside world.  It says elsewhere in the bible that gold and silver were as stones in Israel during the reign of Solomon.   Justice was preformed by the wisest man who had ever lived and was based off of the law that God had given.  This would have been a utopia.  If Solomon and his descendants would have obeyed; God would have fulfilled His promise to them generation after generation.  Sadly, we as sinful man, are just bent to disobedience.

I would imagine that this kingdom of Solomon’s was the best government that had ever come across our world, even to this day.  A perfect government that was ruled by a righteous king, just as it will be during the future, one-thousand year, reign of Christ.  I would like to experience both of them.  Although that is not possible, I do know that I will experience one of them!  I sure hope that you will be joining me.

 

Pastor Steve

August 17th First Kings chapter 3

Today’s chapter is probably one of the most well known stories of all of the kings of Judah and Israel.  We see here that God offers Solomon a blank check; and other than writing in that blank space something that was self motivated, he asks for wisdom.  We, who have learned this story in Sunday school as children may leave this story right there; but there is more to it than simply asking for wisdom.  Solomon, with this request, shows us two things:

First he shows his humility.  It is an odd thing for a supreme leader of a nation to be humble.  We have seen, in our modern day world, the actions of Saddam Hussein, Hitler and the like.  These man are extremely prideful and have a serious “god complex.”  Here is Solomon before God admitting that he is like a little child facing a huge task.

Secondly we see that Solomon is more concerned for the nation of God than he is concerned for his own wants and needs.  This is a picture of the true believer.  The true believer puts the needs of fellow believers even before his own needs.  The believer who has the Spirit of God resting on him or her is sensitive and aware of the needs of those around them.  Those who are self centered and not Christ centered are too concerned about what they need, want or have to spend any time thinking about what others might need, want or perhaps, not have.  It is not that these have even, in some cases, with held their hand from helping another; it is the fact that they are so self involved that they don’t even realize that there are those around them in need.

Being in the ministry vocationally for twenty years I have seen this in action during leadership meetings.  Many times in these meetings people make plans on how to best serve in the church and in the community.  There have been many time that certain things have been looked down upon or dismissed completely.  The usual reason is that if the program or plan does not advance the individual that is in the current leadership loop, it is just not that important.  The heart of the one who has been changed by God, sees and knows the needs around them.  They then do their best, even if it is by self sacrifice, to meet that need.  Solomon had shown this trait and God blessed him for it.

 

Pastor Steve

August 16th First Kings chapter 2

Today we see the handing of the torch from David to his son Solomon.  David gives advise to his son in regards to the people who were to surround him.  Although it seems as though David is exacting vengeance for personal grudges; I believe that this is not the case.  The men that David warned his son about would be those who would try and usurp his throne.  These men had shown kindness to the kings face, but behind his back they were treacherous and evil.  When Solomon heeds the voice of his father, what he does, as it says in the last verse of the chapter, is establish his throne.  The men who would have come to take it had been removed; thus, the line of the Messiah was preserved.

It may seem odd that Solomon did not demand the death of his brother Adonijah at the very moment that he took the throne.  King David also did not mention him in the list of those to be “handled” after his death.  I believe that David, much as he did with Absalom,  could not bring himself to harm his own son.  Solomon, obviously, would have left him in peace; but Adonijah asked for Abishag to be his wife.  It may seem strange that this request would cause such anger and wrath from the new king; but if we look a little deeper it will make more sense.

Abishag was the young woman that David’s servants found to keep David warm during his last days.  Extra biblical history states that they, at that time, believed that the youth of someone who consistently touched another would some how transfer over to the aged one.  Solomon most likely viewed this marriage request as an underhanded way for Adonijah to try and take the throne.  Even if not, it would have been much harder to punish his brother if Solomon had to cause grief to come upon Abishag.  She had to have gained a personal relationship to the king and by proxy also with Solomon.

I think the lesson that we can learn today is that it does not end well when people trifle with God’s anointed.  I have seen and heard many stories of people losing their children, becoming seriously ill or even dying themselves after causing harm to a pastor who was doing Kingdom work.  As the scripture says “If God be for us; who can stand against us?  Although their demise was not immediate, it did come.  When it arrived it was severe.

 

Pastor Steve

August 15th  First Kings chapter 1

We are going to continue on in First Kings through the rule of Solomon before we move on to a New Testament  book.  Today’s reading shows us an example of false religion being preformed in order for someone to get what they want for themselves. One of David’s son, Adonijah,  is trying to usurp the authority of the King David due to his weakness. Adonijah puts on a false front as he invites his brothers and guests to his great coronation and then he begins by making a great sacrifice. It is obvious that Adonijah has no interest in true worship because Nathan the prophet, the intercessor between God and man at the time, was not even invited. This young man saw an opportunity to use religion as a stair-step in order to get people to follow him. He went through all of the motions, he gave much in the sacrifices that he offered and he did everything in front of the people in which he surrounded himself with. But without the intercessor, which is a picture of Jesus Christ, that worship meant absolutely nothing. In fact it became the opposite of worship.  The act that was committed became hypocrisy. It would have been better for him not to have worshiped at all than to have presented a false worship with false motives that only puffed up his own ego and agenda.  As we look at the situation in this chapter we can see that it resembles many people that we are in contact with in our churches today. Many have no ambition to promote the Gospel, but yet involve themselves in church life for  myriads of other reasons.  There are some who want to be leaders and control things, there are some that use the church as an opportunity to promote their personal business and financial gain, while there are others who use the church in order to have a social gathering.  There are even those who attend interact  in ministries for the sole purpose of people seeing them “in action” in order that they might get the praise of men.  There are some who will only give monetarily if they are certain that others will see their charitable giving. In the same way these actions are worse than not committing to worship at all. I believe this is what Jesus was referring to in the book of Revelation what He said that if someone were neither hot nor cold but luke warm, He would vomit them out of His mouth.

As we read today’s chapter, I hope that we will all look past our acts of worship and our works in the ministry and look inward to see where our true intentions lie.  God has shown me many times that, although the works themselves were not necessarily bad or wrong; my reason for doing them had been incorrect.

Isn’t it amazing that  no matter where we read in this Bible that we have been given, there is always an application for our life?  I hope and pray that God will continue to work in your life through the His Word as you seek him daily.

 

Pastor Steve

August 12th II Samuel chapter 24

I believe that all who have read today’s chapter can be sure that it is quite confusing.  To begin with, the chapter never mentions the reason for God’s unhappiness with Israel and/or David.  We just see that God has allowed things to happen in order to place Israel back where they needed to be.  Although not mentioned, we can imagine that perhaps the people of Israel became prideful and overly ambitious.  This nation, that not so long ago, started out as twelve brothers has now become, for all intensive purposes, a world power.  We could also guess , due to the temptation that God allowed to happen to David, that the king became self sufficient in his own mind.  Perhaps he began to listen to the voices around him, the voices that constantly gave him praise, then fell into the trap of accepting the glory for the workings of God.  I don’t believe that we can know for sure; but we can know that God was dissatisfied with Israel and her king.

The most difficult question in this chapter derives from the very first verse; in which it states: “Again the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, ‘Go number Israel and Judah.'”  In this verse we see something that seems to go outside of what we know about God from His Word.  Did God, in fact, force David to sin?  If this is the case, does the Bible contradict itself?  The Bible states in James 1:13 “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.”  So, believing that the Bible has no errors, and that it does not contradict itself; we need to see what we are missing.  We are going to look at another recording of this happening in the Bible, but I want to first take the next paragraph to explain where we are finding it and why it is there again.

The books of first and second Samuel were, at one time, considered to be the first and second book of Kings.  This would place what we know now of First and Second Kings to actually become Third and Forth Kings.  These books are historical records of the kings of Israel.  What causes confusion in these books is the fact that after king Solomon (David’s son) the kingdom became divided.  If it were a story of America it would be as if the South would have won the civil war.  Our history books would all begin with George Washington  as the first president along through our sixteenth president, Abraham Lincoln.  At that point, we would have a divided history of presidents because there would be a confederate president and a union president.  This is what has happened in this portion of scripture.  First and second Kings chronicle the kings of the northern kingdom (Israel) then First and Second Chronicles chronicle the kings of the Southern kingdom (Judah).  So, all of that being said we can see another account of this text in I Chronicles 21:1.

The text in I Chronicles 21:1 states this:  “Now Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel…”  As we put the two texts next to each other, we of course, see another element.  Just as God, in earlier chapters, allowed evil people and evil actions to accomplish His will; we see Him allowing it again.  God is sovereign and all powerful and had full knowledge that Satan would tempt David.  God also had the foreknowledge to know that David would yield to that temptation.  God removed His hand of protection from off of Israel and their king in order to bring about His own will.  God did the same to king Pharaoh in the book of Exodus.  In the midst of overwhelming proofs that God was leading the people of Israel out of Egypt, God allowed Pharaoh’s heart to become hardened.  Through the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart, the people were able to see the salvation of God and their deliverance from slavery in Egypt.

We do not need anyone to tempt us to sin.  We are born with a sin nature that tries to thrive in every aspect of life.  No one is able to quench the spirit of dis-obedience and the only reason that we come to repent and produce good works is that God causes it to happen out of His love for us.  It states in Philippians 2:13 “For It is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”  If God decides to pause or remove “His work in us” there is nothing good left.  We have nothing without Him.

We see this action of the removing of God’s had, as Israel demanded a king. At this point,  God left them to their own evil desires and allowed it.  Saul, their first king almost destroyed the nation.  Folks, we do not need any help in doing contrary to the will of God; but we need much more than mere “help” in order to accomplish His good works.

Lastly for this chapter we need to realize what the sin of David was, in that he numbered the people, and why Satan would choose something like numbering the people in which to tempt David.  The answer lies in man’s pride.  David, was going to show the world, along with his own people, what a vast army that they had.  King David would then be able to stand with his chest puffed out and say “Look what I have created.”  When we, as believers, do not give God the glory; He will put us back in line where we need to be.

 

Pastor Steve

 

August 11th II Samuel chapter 22&23

The next three chapters describe the last few years of the reign of David.  David is a very interesting and intriguing man; a man who is very well rounded.  He was a lowly shepherd that wasn’t even acknowledged by his father when the priest Samuel asked to see all of his sons.  As a young man, David showed himself to be fierce and unafraid when facing Goliath in the valley, even to the point of telling this beast “the birds of the air will eat your flesh.  You come at me with shield and sword; but I come at you in the name of the God of Israel…” (not a direct quote.)  So we have seen the servant boy David, then the brave David, then we read that he was a musician.  David played the harp for king Saul to soothe his nerves and became Saul’s armor bearer.  David was also a ladies man as we read that the woman wrote songs about him in which they sung that Saul had slain his thousands and David his tens of thousands.  We see the weak David who fell into deep and dark sin; but we also see a repentant, broken man before God (Ps 51).  We see the great military leader and before that a terrific warrior as he and Jonathon would go out and “pick fights” with their enemies that out numbered them.  We see that David is a man who is unashamed to love his friend Jonathon as, and I quote “as he loved his own soul.”  We also see the loyalty of David to king Saul even when Saul wanted to kill him; David continually says “I will not raise my hand against God’s anointed.”   Now we get to chapter twenty-two of II Samuel and we see that David is also a poet!  I wonder if there was anything that this man could not do?  I have to admit that I am quite jealous of his many gifts.  We see, for the first time, David writing a song.  Most of the Psalms are written by David and there is much depth to them as he was, obviously, inspired by God.

As I read today’s chapter I thought about David’s ability to give God the glory in everything.  David had a very thankful spirit and faith enough to realize that everything in his life that was good was attributed to the hand of God.  I thought about how often we  either chalk things up to coincidence or simply take personal credit for what happens in our life.  A few weeks ago a man was giving his testimony to my congregation.  He was a helicopter pilot in the Vietnam war, but did not come to know Christ until later in life.  He told the story of when his helicopter was going down and by all rights, according to his training, all on board would surely die.  When miraculously landed his bird safely he said “I told my self ‘Man you are a great pilot.'”  He now realizes how He did not give God the credit for saving him and his passengers until years later.

David was a man who gave credit where credit was due.  I believe that this one of the main reasons that David was so powerfully used by God.  When our lives glorify God, God then rewards us.

 

Pastor Steve