All posts by mannycoronilla

August 5, 2021

Ezra 1:1–2:70

Ezra, the writer of Chronicles and this book that bears his name, was a Jewish  priest who loved the LORD and was a great influence on his people.

The prophet Jeremiah put it in writing, that the Jews would be in captivity for 70 years (Jeremiah 25:11-12). Sure enough, in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia the LORD stirred up this world leader to set the Jews free from captivity.

Ezra included the king’s letter in his text. Cyrus claimed that the LORD himself, the God of heaven, commanded him to build Him a house in Jerusalem, and any and all Jewish people, were not only free, but encouraged to return to their homeland, to do so. He also addressed those were not returning, to donate to the cause – gold, silver, goods, and livestock, besides the freewill offerings that God might lay on their hearts.

We read the response:

Ezra 1:5–6 (NKJV) “Then the heads of the fathers’ houses of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and the Levites, with all whose spirits God had moved, arose to go up and build the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem. 6 And all those who were around them encouraged them with articles of silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with precious things, besides all that was willingly offered.”

I like the way Ezra emphasizes the moving, or prompting of the Spirit. God will put things in our hearts to do, we’ll not simply feel it, we’ll “sense” it, the “stirring” within us to take steps of faith, to “move” in certain directions. In this case, we see close to 50,000 people go up to Jerusalem to not only dwell in their land, but to build the house of the LORD.

Even King Cyrus donated lavishly to the cause.

In Ezra chapter 2 we have the lists of families, and names of those who returned. The leaders, the people, the priests, the Levites, the singers, the gatekeepers, the Nethinim, the sons of Solomon’s servants, as well as male and female servants.

Ezra mentions some people (Ezra 2:59) who could not find their genealogical records. We will see that Ezra was a man who lived “by the book,” and he would not allow them to serve as priests, unless they could prove their genealogy.

In case you’re wondering about the timeframe of Ezra, Esther, and Nehemiah, here’s a simple chart to help.

1 Corinthians 1:18–2:5

The message of the cross is foolish to those who are perishing. You tell them that they can be forgiven of their sins, that they can have life now and forever in heaven, all because a man 2,000 years ago was nailed to a cross for them, and all they have to do is believe – the intellectuals mock, the religious people say it’s too easy – it’s just foolish to those who are perishing…but to those who are being saved it is the power of God unleashed on their lives.

Paul reveals the fact that the wisdom of this world is futile. No one can know God and ultimate truth, by the wisdom of this world.

We should therefore keep it simple when we share the gospel, because the most important part of preaching is making it plain and understandable, not clever or fancy. Paul goes on to share the fact that those who are saved are (generally speaking), not the wise or noble, but the foolish of the world, the weak, the base (insignificant and lowly), the things which are NOT (virtually non-existent), to bring to nothing the things which are.

When Paul arrived at Corinth, it was following a rather interesting time in Athens. I can’t be dogmatic about it, but he may have been a bit disappointed at the results of his preaching in Athens, especially at the Areopagus (Acts 17:16-34). I’m of the opinion that Paul was reminded in a fresh way that there’s power in the name of Jesus and not in human wisdom (the wisdom of this world). I love his approach in:

1 Corinthians 2:2 (NKJV) “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”

I can relate all too well when I read of Paul’s feeling as He ministered at Corinth, he felt weak, he was afraid, even to the point of trembling! He didn’t preach with eloquence or persuasive words of human wisdom, but God still did an amazing work. It proved and pointed to the Person of the Holy Spirit and not Paul or anyone else. Paul wanted the people to give God the glory and not the vessel. The truth is, there’s power in the message of the Gospel and not the messenger of the Gospel.

Sandy Adams explained it this way, “Paul’s ministry did not depend on eloquence or intelligence. In fact, he made a point of being plain! He preached Christ crucified not himself amplified.”

Psalm 27:7-14

The Psalm continues as a prayer. O Lord hear me, help me, I’m seeking Your face the way You’ve asked me to. O Lord, please, don’t leave me or forsake me, take care of me, teach me, do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries.

Make no mistake about it, the devil IS attempting to ruin our lives. God will protect and preserve us, but prayer is a part of that, as an expression of faith.

May we never lose heart. Please whoever you are, don’t give up…that’s the only way you’ll lose. Take heart…you will one day, somehow, someway, see the goodness of God – hold tight to that promise.

Psalm 27:13 (NKJV) “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living.

After praying to God, David turns to us, with counsel and encouragement.

Psalm 27:14 (NKJV) “Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD!”

Proverbs 20:22-23

Proverbs 20:22 (NKJV) “Do not say, ‘I will recompense evil’; wait for the Lord, and He will save you.”

When we’re wronged, we sometimes say, “I’m gonna get em, I’m gonna pay em back. I don’t get mad, I get even.”

Don’t do it. Let the Lord do it. And remember, He may not do it right away, we’ll have to wait for God to right a wrong that’s been done to us, but He will, for He is just.

It’s interesting the way this verse ends…someone does you evil, but you just take it to the Lord, you don’t return that evil…the result is that God saves you.

He saves you from bitterness, He saves you from bondage, He saves you from a heavy fall or failure in life, He may even save you from jail.

Proverbs 20:23 (NKJV) “Diverse weights are an abomination to the Lord, and dishonest scales are not good.”

This is a repetition of the principle we’ve seen twice in this chapter – Proverbs 20:10, 14)

It’s an abomination to God if we are not 100% honest in all our business dealings.

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

August 4, 2021

2 Chronicles 35:1–36:23

2 Chronicles 35 is primarily about this amazing Passover kept by Judah and even portions of Israel there in the city of Jerusalem. It was so amazing that we read this in:

2 Chronicles 35:18 (NKJV) “There had been no Passover kept in Israel like that since the days of Samuel the prophet; and none of the kings of Israel had kept such a Passover as Josiah kept, with the priests and the Levites, all Judah and Israel who were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.”

Josiah was only 26-years-old, but he was a godly king who loved the LORD. He led the nation to celebrate this Passover, and started with the priests and Levites making sure the Ark of the Covenant was in the Holy of Holies, where it belonged. He then gave to the lay people lambs and goats totaling 30,000, he also gave 3,000 cattle, all from his personal possessions. This paved the way for other leaders to follow the example of their king, and they gave to the people who otherwise may not have been able to celebrate the Passover.

It was a massive Feast Day that included the 7-day celebration of Unleavened Bread. These two holy days, go hand in hand, remembering the time that Israel was set free from Egypt, God wanted to make sure they never forgot the day and way He redeemed them from slavery.

For us as Christians, we can always look back to the day, the way, the season, and reason God set us free. I hope we never forget how Jesus has saved us. May we never forget, He is our Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7).

Josiah was a godly king, but he was not by any means a perfect king, and he meddled in a fight that was not his. He challenged the king of Egypt when he shouldn’t have, and it cost him his life.

From there the Nation of Judah sunk lower and lower.

Jehoahaz the son of Josiah became king, but the Egyptians deposed him and replaced him with his brother Eliakim, changing his name to Jehoiakim.

Jehoiakim was carried away to Babylon and his son Jehoichin reigned in his place. Again the Babylonians intervened and made the brother of Jehoiakim, Zedekiah, the king of Judah there in Jerusalem.

All these kings did evil in the sight of the LORD, so God sent prophet after prophet warning them of impending doom, but they would not change. We read in:

2 Chronicles 36:15–16 (NKJV) “And the LORD God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. 16 But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, till there was no remedy.

Did you catch those last 5 words? “…til there was no remedy.”

There was nothing else God could do to reach this nation other than judge them…and that’s exactly what happened. After 3 sieges the Babylonians conquered Judah and carried them away in 589 BC. They would be in captivity for 70-years, one year for every year they failed to keep the sabbath for their land.

But then the day came, fulfilling the prophecy of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 25:11-12), when the Jews were allowed to return, just as God had predicted, under the edict of Cyrus, king of Persia.

1 Corinthians 1:1-17

The church at Corinth was like all other Christians in that they were sanctified and called to be saints. They were truly blessed and had experienced God’s amazing grace. Paul writes about how they were eagerly waiting for the return of the Lord and how God would keep them firm to the end, for God is faithful by whom we are called (1 Corinthians 1:7-9).

Paul does, however, say a couple of things about the Corinthian church in chapter 1 that might be considered “different.” First of all, they came short in no gift, meaning they were a very gifted church. But the second thing about them is that they were a very carnal church (1 Corinthians 3:1, 3-4). So Paul doesn’t waste time dealing with issues – beginning with division.

Paul pleaded with them to be united, to speak the same thing. Imagine a church where some were saying they followed Paul, or Peter, or Apollos – this broke Paul’s heart! Paul didn’t die for them – Christ did! We should all be saying we follow the Lord Jesus Christ, not man! The enemy will do anything he can to take our eyes off of Christ and divide households and churches.

I’m not surprised, but I am impressed that Paul didn’t ask the people to lean in his direction in any way, even though he was the one who planted the church! In retrospect, Paul was grateful that he hadn’t baptized too many people there in Corinth, because he didn’t want to paint the picture of possessiveness in any way.

Paul wasn’t sent to baptize people, or to have anyone follow him, no, Paul was sent to preach the Gospel. It’s noteworthy how Paul explicitly stated, that God did NOT sent him to baptize. This is another indication that baptism doesn’t save us, for IF it did, God would have sent him to baptize.

God sent Paul to preach the Gospel, but not with wisdom of words – not eloquently, or profoundly, but in simplicity. In the rest of the chapter, Paul will elaborate more on how he trusted not in his delivery of the message, but simply the content of the message…in the power of the Gospel and the cross of Jesus Christ.

Psalm 27:1-6

Another Psalm of David, who was not only the sweet Psalmist of Israel, but the rugged soldier of many battles, who teaches us how to fight the good fight.

The enemy will oppose us, the wicked will come against us – let’s be sure to make that same proclamation, that declaration of salvation, as David did:

Psalm 27:1 (NKJV) “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”

What a relief, there is NOTHING to be afraid of, even if an army surrounds me, I will be confident in Christ, I will stay focused on Him with laser-like vision.

Psalm 27:4 (NKJV) “One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple.”

What a beautiful passage, that we would be consumed with “One thing,” to be in fellowship with God – every day of my life. To do what? To behold His beauty – to learn about Him, and the way He promises to protect us from all of our enemies.

God will give us victory…and that’s why we praise Him, even now.

Proverbs 20:20-21

Proverbs 20:20 (NKJV) “Whoever curses his father or his mother, his lamp will be put out in deep darkness.”

Heavy, heavy, heavy warning to children to make sure they don’t curse their parents. (see also Deuteronomy 21:18-20)

A lamp being snuffed out speaks of death.

And the deep darkness can very well refer to the degree of punishment in the afterlife; Jesus spoke of outer darkness three times in the Gospel of Matthew 8:12; 22:13; 25:30).

Proverbs 20:21 (NKJV) “An inheritance gained hastily at the beginning will not be blessed at the end.”

In one sense, inheritances are dangerous because the ones who gained it, didn’t really earn it, and they often times therefore don’t appreciate it.

It doesn’t mean that giving or receiving an inheritance is bad, but it needs to be thought out and sifted through slowly, not hastily.

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

August 3, 2021

2 Chronicles 33:14–34:33

King Manasseh experienced something unparalleled in the history of Israel and Judah – he was taken into captivity, but he wasn’t imprisoned for life, or executed on the spot, miraculously he was restored back to Jerusalem as king. This is unheard of, but God showed him much mercy.

When Manasseh returned as king he took away the altars to the pagan gods, he restored the altar of the LORD, and the nation of Judah seemed to return to the God with him.

Never underestimate the influence of a godly leader and the power of one’s testimony. There’s no doubt the nation was in awe of the return of Manasseh and his return to the LORD.

Manasseh’s son Amon however, was an evil king. We don’t know for sure, because every child has a free will, but Amon grew up seeing all the wickedness his father had done as king before he was saved, and it may have taken its toll. We read this about Amon in:

2 Chronicles 33:23 (NKJV) “And he did not humble himself before the LORD, as his father Manasseh had humbled himself; but Amon trespassed more and more.

His reign didn’t last long (2 years) he was executed by servants in his own house. His son Josiah was then crowned king at the tender age of 8-years-old. Josiah has a good summary:

2 Chronicles 34:2 (NKJV) “And he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the ways of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.”

When Josiah was 16-years-old he began to seek the LORD the way King David had. When he was 20-years-old he began to purge the nation of all idolatry. He took part in this himself – he traveled the nation, even venturing up into the Northern Kingdom of Israel (Ephraim) to break down pagan altars. When he was 26-years-old he began to repair the temple of the LORD. They delivered the funds to the workers of the LORD and they began to clean house and repair the dilapidations. While they were working in the House of God, they found something that had been lost in all the rubble, they found the Word of God (their Bible).

Imagine losing the Bible in the House of God – the church! But it’s very possible. We know the enemy hates God’s Word and he’s tried to destroy it from day one. We also know that much of the church is not too interested in reading their Bibles – most are more interested in worldly things. Some pastors don’t preach it, they deliver inspirational messages from the pulpit, and positive self-help talks. The USA used to be a nation that esteemed God’s Word, we even taught it in public schools, but tragically the trend nowadays is that we are becoming Biblically illiterate – at an alarming rate. I commend you for reading your Bibles, in order to listen, learn, and live God’s Word.

When they read the Bible to King Josiah, he tore his clothes in anguish, he knew that his country had broken God’s law and was worthy of judgment. He sent some ambassadors to the prophetess Huldah to inquire as to the future of the nation in light of the Word. The prophetess responded to the king personally: 

2 Chronicles 34:27–28 (NKJV) “…because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before God when you heard His words against this place and against its inhabitants, and you humbled yourself before Me, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you,” says the LORD. 28 ‘Surely I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace; and your eyes shall not see all the calamity which I will bring on this place and its inhabitants.’ So they brought back word to the king.”

King Josiah then gathered the elders, and leaders, with all the men of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests, the Levites, all the people great and small, and he read them the Bible.

2 Chronicles 34:31 (NKJV) “Then the king stood in his place and made a covenant before the LORD, to follow the LORD, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant that were written in this book.”

Sometimes I look at our country and I say, “It’s too late, we’ve gone too far, done too much evil.” But then I read the account of Manasseh and Josiah. Under the leadership of Josiah especially, there was a turning to the LORD. We even read this about the nation under Josiah’s influence:

2 Chronicles 34:33 (NKJV) “…All his days they did not depart from following the LORD God of their fathers.

If I had to guess, I would say it’s too late for the USA. But maybe, just maybe there’s a Josiah out there somewhere, ready to take his place. And maybe, just maybe we will find the Bible as a church and a nation, and return to God’s Word.

Romans 16:10-27

So many names, so many people Paul wanted to greet, including the mother of Rufus who was like a mother to him.

There’s no doubt that these fellow Christians were fellow laborers in the Gospel. One thing’s for sure, even people like Paul need helpers. No one can do this on his or her own, so we thank God for all those people who labor behind the scenes. God knows their names, they’re written in His book, dear to His heart and He will reward every single one of them one day.

The protective part of Paul resurfaces as he warns the church in Rome to take note and avoid those who cause divisions and offenses in the church – they don’t serve the Lord, they serve themselves (Romans 16:17-18). 

He follows this warning with reasoning, how God has done such a good work in them and he doesn’t want anyone to ruin that work. They were to be wise concerning good, simple concerning evil, and encouraged by the fact that the day will come when the God of peace will crush Satan under our feet. O Lord, I look forward to that day!

After the final farewells Paul closes this theological masterpiece with a benediction – how God is able to establish the people with the power of this Gospel, Jews and Gentiles alike, for obedience to the faith. What a wonderful salvation for the good of the people and the glory of God, so simple and yet so profound as we read back in 

Romans 1:17b (NKJV) “…the just shall live by faith.”

Psalm 26:1-12

David was indeed a godly man and he asked the LORD to move on his behalf in light of that godliness. He asked God to vindicate him, to protect him, to have mercy on him according to his integrity, his trust, his mind, his heart, his walk, his hatred for sin, his love for God’s house, his promise to preach and practice what he preached.

Let me just say, there is a place for that, God DOES bless obedience, and I do encourage you to pray and obey.

But, with New Testament light, I don’t usually base my prayers on my righteousness. I ask God to vindicate me, to protect me, to give me that victory, ONLY on the basis of His righteousness (Luke 18:13).

Proverbs 20:19

Proverbs 20:19 (NKJV) “He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with one who flatters with his lips.”

What Solomon is saying here, is that usually a gossip is also a flatterer.

It can be difficult to discern between a genuine compliment and flattery, but God will show you. Once you discover that type of manipulation, Solomon says do not associate with that person. It goes hand-in-hand with what Solomon wrote back in:

Proverbs 12:26a (NKJV) “The righteous should choose his friends carefully…”

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

August 2, 2021

2 Chronicles 32:1–33:13

The King of Assyria came to surround and conquer Jerusalem, but isn’t the timing interesting? We read those words in

2 Chronicles 32:1 (NKJV) “After these deeds of faithfulness…”

The enemy does not take our spiritual progress in stride – he will oppose those who are advancing God’s kingdom aggressively. May we always be ready for the attack, “…after deeds of faithfulness.” Recently we were saddened to hear about a dear sister, who’s been having problems sleeping…when she does finally get some rest, she’s awakened with nightmares, she said it didn’t start happening until she came back to church and fellowship with God’s people.

Hezekiah and the nation of Judah experienced this type of opposition, and Hezekiah began to move in practical ways to defend his nation. Among other things he covered the water supply outside the city. 

“Hoping to prevent Jerusalem’s capture, Hezekiah took measures to conceal the city’s outside water supplies (vv. 3–4). The stream was probably the Gihon spring (v. 30).” – Bible Knowledge Commentary.

Hezekiah strengthened himself (the city of Jerusalem), he built up his walls of protection, he repaired the Millo, he made weapons and shields in abundance, he did very practical things – he used much wisdom, but most importantly he trusted in the LORD. He also spoke words of faith to the people.

2 Chronicles 32:7–8 (NKJV) “Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid nor dismayed before the king of Assyria, nor before all the multitude that is with him; for there are more with us than with him. 8 With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people were strengthened by the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.

It’s noteworthy how our words of faith can actually strengthen others (Acts 14:22; 15:41; 18:23).

The Assyrians did what the enemy always does, he lies, threats, and intimidates in order to weaken and even strip us of our faith. But Hezekiah kept the faith and he and Isaiah cried out to the LORD in prayer. So God answered by sending an Angel to wipe out 185,000 Assyrians (2 Kings 19:35).

Hezekiah has an interesting story – the prophet Isaiah came to him and told him to get his house in order, for he was about to die. Hezekiah wasn’t happy about the news, turned his face to the wall, and prayed for more time. God gave him a 15-year extension of life. We read in:

Isaiah 38:5 (NKJV) “Go and tell Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: ‘I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will add to your days fifteen years.’’”

God graciously extended Hezekiah’s life, but he didn’t seem to respond well. We read in:

2 Chronicles 32:25 (NKJV) “But Hezekiah did not repay according to the favor shown him, for his heart was lifted up; therefore wrath was looming over him and over Judah and Jerusalem.

Thankfully Hezekiah eventually humbled himself, and God extended His mercy to him. As a matter of fact, the summary of Hezekiah’s life was positive, and we even read that “Hezekiah prospered in all his works.” (2 Chronicles 32:30).

Just curious:

What would you do if you found out you were about to die? Would you embrace it? Or would you ask for more time?

It’s tragic to read that the son of Hezekiah, Manasseh, became Judah’s most wicked king. Under his leadership the nation did things that were worse than the nations they replaced – the Canaanites.

But again, when Manasseh repented, God forgive him. 

2 Chronicles 33:13b (NKJV) “Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God.”

It’s important to know that no matter how far a person strays, God’s love and grace is there, available for anyone willing to return.

Joel 2:13 (NKJV) “So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm.”

Romans 15:22–16:9

Paul planned on visiting and ministering in Rome, and then he hoped they would help him on his way to Spain to be able to minister there. He had high-hopes and so should we. I’m not sure if Paul ever made it to Spain back then, but his letters made it to the ends of the earth, and over the ages of time. He didn’t go to Rome quite as he expected, but he did make it there as he had always been, a prisoner of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 15 ends with Paul’s request that the people join in prayer for him, for his protection, for his service, for those journeys of joy, and refreshing times of fellowship in the future…with the church at Rome. How important it is that we fight on our knees that we pray, pray, pray!

As Paul closes his letter to the Romans in chapter 16 he begins with the commendation of Phoebe. This is an insightful section of Scripture because it clearly communicates the fact that women can have a prominent place in the church, not as pastors (1 Timothy 2:12) but definitely as deacons. Phoebe is referred to as a “servant of the church in Cenchrea.” The Greek word translated servant is diakonos which is the origin of our word deacon. Paul instructs the church at Rome to receive her and assist her because she has been a helper to many.

It’s surprising to see how many people Paul knows and greets – who are there at the church in Rome. Numerous names of people like Priscilla and Aquilla who risked their necks for Paul, as well as other laborers, fellow Jews, prisoners, and even notable apostles (small a) who were in Christ before him. It’s obvious, these were people he loved.

Psalm 25:16-22 

Beautiful prayers when the troubles of our heart have enlarged (Psalm 25:17). It can be when we’re going through something personally, or even when we’re going through hard times nationally (Psalm 25:22).

May God Himself turn to us, look on us, forgive us and bring us out of distress.

It’s hard to imagine a time when I’m 100% blameless, we all fail in one way or another, so I found it interesting to read:

Psalm 25:18 (NKJV) “Look on my affliction and my pain, and forgive all my sins.”

It’s not just the enemy, sometimes it’s me, my failures. I don’t just need God to fight for me, I need Him to forgive me. How about you?

Let’s pray as David prayed, may God consider our enemies, for there are many demons who hate us with cruel hatred.

O Lord, we trust You, believe in You, pray to You, and wait on You.

Proverbs 20:16-18

Proverbs 20:16 (NKJV) “Take the garment of one who is surety for a stranger, and hold it as a pledge when it is for a seductress.”

Bible Knowledge Commentary explains, “This verse is repeated verbatim in Proverbs 27:13. A debtor’s outer garment could be taken by a creditor as collateral to guarantee that the debtor would pay (Exodus 22:26). Here a creditor is commanded to take the garment of a person who co-signs for a stranger, especially if the stranger is a wayward woman.”

Proverbs 20:17 (NKJV) “Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be filled with gravel.”

Consequences of deception – at first he’s filled with fresh baked garlic bread he bought with the money he stole, but then the day comes…what goes around comes around. His mouth is filled with gravel probably has something to do with the gravel in the grave.

Proverbs 20:18 (NKJV) Plans are established by counsel; by wise counsel wage war.

It’s good to have a good plan. There’s a ton of truth in that maxim, “If you fail to plan you plan to fail.” But it’s going to be very difficult to have good plans, if you don’t surround yourself with good counselors who you allow to speak into your life. After all, it’s not just a playground we play in, it’s a battleground we war in – therefore, “…by wise counsel wage war.”

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

August 1, 2021

2 Chronicles 30:1–31:21

King Hezekiah was a godly king. He was obedient to God’s Word which commanded His covenant  people to celebrate the Passover each year. The only problem was, they didn’t have enough time to do so in the designated month. By the time the priests and Levites were able to get everything ready and send out the invitations, they would be a month late – but God was okay with that.

Hezekiah used this opportunity to invite all the children of Israel. He sent runners (messengers) to the people in the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and all throughout Judah. He called them to gather in Jerusalem, to celebrate this Holy Day, the day in which they contemplated how God set them free from Egypt.

It’s sad that we read how some from Israel laughed at the invitation, for it was during Hezekiah’s reign that Assyria carried the Northern Kingdom away captive. There were some however, who did come. The promise of God is always there, if we return to Him, He will return to us (2 Chronicles 30:6).

I thought it was interesting how God gave grace to the people for the fact that they didn’t celebrate the Passover according to the letter of the law. For one, they were a month late. Secondly, some of the people had not sanctified themselves, they actually ate contrary to what was written in the law, but God showed them grace, He saw the intent of the heart. It also helped that Hezekiah prayed for them.

2 Chronicles 30:18–19 (NKJV) “For a multitude of the people, many from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet they ate the Passover contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, ‘May the good LORD provide atonement for everyone 19 who prepares his heart to seek God, the LORD God of his fathers, though he is not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary.’”

And the LORD answered Hezekiah’s prayer.

King Hezekiah made sure there was praise and worship taking place and I like the fact that it was “loud.” (2 Chronicles 30:21)

It wasn’t just a one-day thing, it ended up being 14 days of celebration. I love what we read in:

2 Chronicles 30:26 (NKJV) “So there was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the time of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel, there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem.”

It had been somewhere around 250 years since they had such a celebration! Imagine the joy!

This special time of returning to the LORD led to further cleansing in the nation, breaking down the idols throughout the land even extending up to Ephraim and Manasseh – this was nothing short of a national revival.

King Hezkeiah then made sure that the people had the opportunity to bring their tithes and offerings in order to support the priest and the Levites, “…that they might devoted themselves to the Law of the LORD.” (2 Chronicles 31:4). 

We read some very commendable words about King Hezekiah – may it inspire us all to follow his example:

2 Chronicles 31:20–21 (NKJV) “Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah, and he did what was good and right and true before the LORD his God. 21 And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, in the law and in the commandment, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart. So he prospered.”

Romans 15:1-21

Paul picks it up right where he left off, living our Christianity as a family, as a flock, bearing with one another, loving the unlovely, giving each other room to grow, following the example of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The word “scruples” in Romans 15:1 speaks of the weakness and even the sickness of others. Some translations use the words “failings” (NIV) or “infirmities”

This is very, very practical, applicable! When others fail us or hurt us, we’re to love them as Jesus did. This is a lofty request, for unity and humility, so Paul takes the time to pray for them in this matter (Romans 15:5-6).

Sandy Adams said, “We like friends who come already assembled. When we find that a friend has idiosyncrasies that irritate, or aggravate, or agitate us, we tend to avoid them. Paul tells us that we are to bear with each other. Remember that God is not finished with your friend.”

Paul seems to transition into applying this to the relationship that the Jews should have with the Gentiles. He quotes many Old Testament passages to make his point – yes, it was prophesied, the Gentiles would be saved!

Paul prays for them again (Romans 15:13).

Paul then begins to close the letter by telling the church in Rome about the ministry he so graciously received from the Lord, to minister to the Gentiles, the things that Jesus had done through Him, signs, wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, preaching the Gospel. I love the way he says it, “I have fully preached the Gospel of Christ..” (Romans 15:19) Man, I want to be able to say that one day! Paul said he makes it his aim to preach the Gospel, and to do so where Christ was not named. The NLT explains it very plainly in: 

Romans 15:20, “My ambition has always been to preach the Good News where the name of Christ has never been heard, rather than where a church has already been started by someone else.”

Paul wanted the world to hear about Jesus, to see Jesus in the Scriptures, he wanted the world to understand God’s love…it’s no wonder he was opposed by the enemy, every step of the way.

Psalm 25:1-15

David prays for God to give him victory over his enemies. He even makes it a prayer for all God’s people:

Psalm 25:3a (NKJV) “Indeed, let no one who waits on You be ashamed…”

To wait on the Lord has less to do with timing than it does trust. When we wait on Him, we don’t act hastily of sinfully; we wait in faith, with eager expectation, great anticipation. God will show up, save the day, and have His way.

David prayed for God to show him, teach him, lead him, and forgive him.

David knew that God would bless obedience, that God would even bless the children of those who fear the Lord and keep His Word.

I can relate with David all too well in the way he asked for forgiveness. O God, don’t remember the sins of my youth, or the sins of yesterday, according to Your mercy remember me (Psalm 25:7).

Psalm 25:11 (NKJV) “For Your name’s sake, O LORD, pardon my iniquity, for it is great.”

We also have another powerful reminder to keep our eyes on the Lord (see Isaiah 26:3).

Psalm 25:15 (NKJV) “My eyes are ever toward the LORD, for He shall pluck my feet out of the net.”

It’s necessary to glance at our problems periodically, but let’s make sure to gaze on God. It’s okay to look in the mirror occasionally for there are those times of heart examination, but let it not replace our concentration on Christ.

As we simply keep our eyes on Him, the Lord will rescue us from the traps of the enemy.

Proverbs 20:13-15

Proverbs 20:13 (NKJV) “Do not love sleep, lest you come to poverty; open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with bread.”

This definitely goes hand in hand with:

Proverbs 20:4 (NKJV) “The lazy man will not plow because of winter; He will beg during harvest and have nothing.”

It’s okay to enjoy a good night’s rest; and it’s even okay to enjoy your “siesta,” to take a nap as God allows.

But too much sleep, and loving sleep and laziness leads to poverty. So we gotta get up, maybe even get up early, in order that we might work hard, seize the day – we’ll be blessed with some good bread!

Proverbs 20:14 (NKJV) “‘It is good for nothing,’ cries the buyer; but when he has gone his way, then he boasts.”

So, you find this million-dollar antique at a garage sale – what would you do?

You’re aware of the value but apparently the owner doesn’t, he’s just cleaning out his great, great grandpa’s garage.

Do you tell him, do you inform him, “Hey, you need to know this is worth a million dollars, take this down to the local museum…and get your money.”

Or do you say, “Hey Mr., I’ll take this piece of junk off your hands…I’ll even give you $20.” And then you pocket the profit.

One man’s trash another man’s treasure? Doesn’t quite fit here. It’s an abomination to God. Let’s be honest in our business transactions.

God just does not like it when we rip people off – He wants a fair price that benefits both the buyer and the seller. (Proverbs 20:10). In the world they brag if they can hustle someone…but not us.

Proverbs 20:15 (NKJV) “There is gold and a multitude of rubies, but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.”

God’s message is more valuable than money.

I’d much rather have a wise friend than a wealthy friend, if I had to choose between the two…because that’s the type of gold I need to get, those rubies are rare, those jewels are most precious.

Shelly and I don’t have a lot of jewelry or bling, but we are blessed with brothers, sisters, and teachers with lips of knowledge.

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

July 31, 2021

2 Chronicles 29:1-36

The next four chapters will cover the reign of King Hezekiah who was one of the godliest kings of Judah. We even read that King Hezekiah, “…did what was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father David had done.” That says a lot.

We’ve covered the fact that Chronicles is written from a priestly perspective, so it’s no surprise that we have such detail in the restoration of the Temple, the Priesthood, and Temple worship. The Lord moved Hezekiah who encouraged the priests and people to sanctify themselves to God. It always begins by getting rid of the trash in our lives.

2 Chronicles 29:5 (NKJV) “Hear me, Levites! Now sanctify yourselves, sanctify the house of the LORD God of your fathers, and carry out the rubbish from the holy place.”

Hezekiah was well aware of that fact that the nation had turned their backs on the LORD, had done evil, and closed the doors of fellowship with God…all this was the reason they were suffering so.  Hezekiah began with the priests and challenged them to sanctify themselves, to do the work of the ministry, and make themselves available to help the people in their worship of God. It was in King Hezekiah’s heart to make a covenant with the LORD, that His wrath would be lifted.  We read some specifics in:

2 Chronicles 29:11 (NKJV) “My sons, do not be negligent now, for the LORD has chosen you to stand before Him, to serve Him, and that you should minister to Him and burn incense.”

Many times the problem of spiritual leaders/Levites is not that they’re openly disobedient, it’s that they’re casually negligent…it’s not that they reject God, it’s that they neglect God. King Hezekiah challenges them NOT to be negligent, to sanctify themselves and be ready to serve. We need to be proactive in a passionate pursuit of God, especially as leaders, let’s seek the Lord wholeheartedly.

We read the names of the men who responded and rose to the occasion (2 Chronicles 29:12-14). They were able to get the Temple “together” in eight days. They let the King know, who then “rose early” (this is a sign of excitement and urgency) and began to offer sacrifices to cleanse the Temple ceremonially as well as cleanse the people nationally.

Hezekiah also stationed the Levites who were musicians in place, and made sure that they were praising God at the same time the other Levites and priests were offerings up their sacrifices.  This is part of the reason Hezekiah was compared to King David, there was an emphasis on worship. I cannot over-state the importance of praise and worship in the lives of God’s people. I pray that worship is your life, and that you enjoy the blessing of music specifically geared to glorify God and encourage you in your relationship with Him!

After these things were set, King Hezekiah encouraged all the people (the assembly) to bring their offerings to God, to join in praise and worship.

2 Chronicles 29:30b, 31b  (NKJV) “So they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed their heads and worshiped…so the assembly brought in sacrifices and thank offerings, and as many as were of a willing heart brought burnt offerings..”

The burnt offering was when they took the sacrifice and burned it ALL to God. None went to the priest and none went to the person offering the sacrifice. It all went to God. It symbolizes how we need to make that commitment to give ALL of our lives completely, wholeheartedly, and unreservedly to God.

Romans 14:1-23

Romans 14 highlights the fact that we all have personal convictions, we’re all growing at different rates, and we’re to therefore be extremely careful in judging others. As a matter of fact, we aren’t called to meddle with the personal convictions of other believers. Now that doesn’t mean we can never judge within the church – at times we can and actually are called to do so – if the issue is clear in Scripture (please see John 7:24; 1 Corinthians 5:12) but even that is to be done in love.

So don’t judge a person’s diet, don’t judge a person’s day they choose to esteem (or not) – as believers we all live and die for the Lord personally and individually. We ultimately belong to God, and we will inevitably be judged by Him. Paul mentions that fact in:

Romans 14:12 (NKJV) “So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.”

It’s freeing to know that God is my Judge, but it’s also a very sobering thought, for so many reasons.

Sandy Adams said, “Preparing my heart to meet the Master is a full-time job. It leaves little time for me to judge the heart of my brother.”

This whole realm of personal convictions forbids me to judge such things and commands me to love such people. If I know my brother doesn’t eat meat that was offered to idols, I shouldn’t offer it to him, or eat it right in front of him – that’s not love. Paul even says that such behavior can “destroy” (Romans 14:5, 20) my brother. That’s heavy!

What a great principal given in:

Romans 14:19 (NKJV) “Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.”

Warren Wiersbe summarized it like this, “Our desire must not be to get everybody to agree with us; our desire must be to pursue peace, not cause others to stumble, and help others to mature in Christ.”

In closing, let me touch on the fact that underlying this entire chapter is something hard to understand; Paul says that all things are pure. Jesus said something similar in: 

Matthew 15:11 (NKJV) “Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.”

Paul points to wine in Romans 14:21 and some might see this as a license for liquor. Here’s the thing…at the end of the day the Bible doesn’t straight-out prohibit wine – it does prohibit getting drunk (Ephesians 5:18). But let’s be honest and wise to realize that wine, beer, hard liquor, mixed drinks and the like have made many people stumble and have ruined countless lives. Most men cannot handle alcohol, so I believe that in the context of today’s culture, this chapter doesn’t teach us that it’s okay to drink wine, I believe it actually teaches the exact opposite. I believe if we choose to walk in love, we will choose not to drink alcohol, because of the simple fact that we never, ever, ever want to give even the slightest reason for our brother or sister to stumble. What might happen if my son saw me drinking? God forbid.

But…and this is hard to say, if I saw you have a glass of wine or a beer and you weren’t drunk, I might be grieved at your witness, and ask you to step down from ministry, but I couldn’t judge you to the point of saying you’re not saved. That’s between you and the Lord.

As for me…I’d much rather get high on God and be under the influence of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).

Psalm 24:1-10

Another one of those epic questions:

Psalm 24:3 (NKJV) “Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place?”

Us? In the Holy place? How? As we place our faith in Jesus Christ our life will change, and the proof will be in the pudding. Our belief will affect our behavior.

Not perfect, but proper. We’ll have fellowship with God because we’ll become that person with clean hands. That person with a clean heart. People with no idols in our souls. People who speaks truth with our lips. People who seek God’s face.

Do you believe? Do you behave? This brings assurance to our soul. This brings the King of Glory (mentioned 5 times in this chapter) into our lives. What a glorious life that will be!

Proverbs 20:12

Proverbs 20:12 (NKJV) “The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the Lord has made them both.”

Wow! Have you ever contemplated the fact that we’re so fearfully and wonderfully made? (Psalm 139:14)

There is no human microphone anywhere near the ear. And as far as cameras go – not one can touch the way the eye operates.

Did you know that the 3 bones in our ears can all fit neatly on a penny? The complete area of the central ear is not large, but the internal ear is about the size of a pencil eraser and has more than 20,000 hairs. Next time you hear something…thank God for giving you that gift, take it in with gratitude.

Here’s a few fun facts about the eye:

The human eye weighs approximately 28 grams and can distinguish 500 shades of gray. Sailors once thought that wearing a gold earring would improve their eyesight. People generally read 25% slower on a computer screen versus paper. Only 1/6th of your eyeball is exposed to the outside world. The average person blinks about 12 times per minute. That’s more than 10,000 times a day! If you lined up all of the eyelashes shed in your life time, it would add up to about 98 ft. Your eyes are composed of roughly 2 million working parts!

Evolution? It happened accidentally? I think not. God made the hearing ear, and the seeing eye…both, so amazing! Thank You Lord!

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

July 30, 2021

2 Chronicles 26:1–28:27

We begin with King Uzziah who reigned in Judah from 787-735 B.C.

Wow – what a great start he had! He did what was right in the sight of the LORD. He sought God and he prospered. God helped him to defeat the Philistines, the Arabians, the Meunites and the Ammonites. We even read this about Uzziah in: 

2 Chronicles 26:8b (NKJV) “His fame spread as far as the entrance of Egypt, for he became exceedingly strong.”

Under this godly leadership of Uzziah the nation of Judah excelled as builders, farmers, and warriors – his army  was strong, numerous, and organized, they even invented weapons of war for themselves. 

But then we read this about Uzziah:

2 Chronicles 26:15b (NKJV) “So his fame spread far and wide, for he was marvelously helped till he became strong.”

God was raising him up, using him mightily. Uzziah was not just helped, he was “marvelously” helped, but then we read those tell-tale words – “till he became strong.” The strength and success went to his head. He believed his own press. He forgot that it was all God – not him. 

If we see and admit our own weakness and impotence, and lean on the Lord, He will strengthen us (2 Corinthians 12:9). But if we say “I’m strong, I’m good, I’m gifted, I’m what the world needs,” then our own weaknesses and lack of power will be exposed…and that’s what happened to Uzziah.

He thought so highly of himself that he went into the temple and burned incense in the Holy Place. When the priests saw him they rebuked him – but this only made him furious (for he was filled with pride). God therefore struck him with leprosy…and he remained a leper, isolated away from everyone else, until the day of his death. Such a tragic way to end an otherwise wonderful life. 

If God blesses us, may we always remember, it’s by His grace (1 Corinthians 15:10). Without God we can do nothing (John 15:5). We must never think too highly of ourselves (Romans 12:3). We all need to stay in the “lanes” the Lord has assigned to us.

After Uzziah came Jotham. Jotham reigned in Judah from 749-734 B.C.  We read this about him and the people of Judah:

2 Chronicles 27:2 (NKJV) “And he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Uzziah had done (although he did not enter the temple of the LORD). But still the people acted corruptly.”

Jotham served the LORD, but tragically the people did not follow suit. This would manifest itself miserably under their next king. But Jotham was godly, he was a good builder, and fighter, able to defeat the Ammonites. We read the secret to his success:

2 Chronicles 27:6 (NKJV) “So Jotham became mighty, because he prepared his ways before the LORD his God.”

Other translations of the same passage offer further insight:

2 Chronicles 27:6 (NIV) “Jotham grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the LORD his God.”

2 Chronicles 27:6 (NLT) “King Jotham became powerful because he was careful to live in obedience to the LORD his God.”

2 Chronicles 27:6 (NET) “Jotham grew powerful because he was determined to please the LORD his God.”

Jotham seemed to finish well, and after him his son Ahaz was crowned king. Ahaz reigned from 741-726 B.C. but he did not do what was right in the sight of the LORD. He served other gods, built altars to them on various high places and hills – he even burned his children in the fire, offering them to the god of Molech (doesn’t that remind you of abortion?). The only difference between then and now is today people burn them when they’re smaller and within the womb (with saline solution). Sometimes “doctors” dismantle them (if they’re bigger) but the same evil spirit has cast his evil spell upon society…and children are being slaughtered to the god (demon) of Molech.

If would be well for us to see that God judged Judah severely. The Northern Kingdom of Israel crushed them and killed 120,000 in Judah in one day, all valiant men, because they had forsaken the LORD God of their fathers (2 Chronicles 28:6). Wow!

After that they carried away 200,000 women, sons, and daughters, as slaves, along with much spoil to Samaria the capital of Israel. Thankfully and graciously God sent them the prophet Obed, who rebuked them, and along with the counsel of some of the elders of Israel, they had a change of heart, and returned the captives to Judah.

Ahaz was largely responsible for the collapse of Judah during his time. We read in:

2 Chronicles 28:19 (NKJV) “For the LORD brought Judah low because of Ahaz king of Israel, for he had encouraged moral decline in Judah and had been continually unfaithful to the LORD.”

Moral decline. We see that in our nation today don’t we?

What a difference a godly leader makes – in any setting, but especially over a nation. God help us to pray for our leaders, to vote into office those who have Biblical convictions, and to do all that we can to stay on track in our own lifelong “race” we’re called to run personally (Acts 20:24). 

Romans 13:1-14

In Romans 13 Paul addresses what might be considered a controversial issue – the government. He teaches that we are to be submissive to the Government, the authorities, police officers, etc. Paul actually refers to them as ministers of God. Now, this is an interesting statement in light of the fact that Caesar Nero was in power in Paul’s day. We might complain about the authorities of today, but chances are, they were nowhere nearly as bad as Caesar – and yet God teaches submission.

Pastor Chuck said, “I confess that I have a problem with the notion that every government authority is ordained by God. But when Paul wrote this to the Christians in Rome, the Roman Empire was at its apex of evil ruled by the horrible tyrant, Nero.”

By faith and obedience to God, we are not to resist those placed over us, we are to be subject to our God-given authorities, we are to pay our taxes, our customs, to esteem and honor those in places of authority. The only time we are NOT to submit, is if their law clearly contradicts the law of the Lord (Act 5:29).

Warren Wiersbe said, “Believers are citizens of heaven, but we must not minimize our responsibilities on earth. We must be exemplary citizens so that the Lord will be glorified (1 Peter 2:11–17).”

Paul addresses another controversial issue and that is capital punishment (13:4). Paul talks about the “sword” of the government and how they are “God’s avenger to execute wrath.” The Bible supports capital punishment and teaches us to obey the laws of the land so we won’t be punished.

In a world drowning in credit card debt Paul shares a great passage for us:

Romans 13:8 (NKJV) “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.”

First the money point – I like the way Sandy Adams worded it, “No bondage is more depressing than financial bondage. More bills than bucks – is a dilemma you should avoid at all costs.”

Then the main point, we owe everyone love. This is huge! Jesus said in: 

John 13:35 (NKJV) “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Love is so big, that when we love people we fulfill the entire law of the Lord. As Steven Curtis Chapman sang, “Love, love, love, love, love, it’s all about love, love, love, love, love…everything else comes down to this, nothing any higher on the list than love…it’s all about love.”

And of course the one we are to love the most is the Lord. We prove our love for Him through obedience (John 14:15). Paul closes with the exhortation to do just that, to wake up from our sleep, for our salvation is nearer than when we first believed, meaning the Lord’s return is sooner, and/or our day of passing can come at any time (I’m not getting any younger). I need to walk in the light, not in the dark; I need to cast off the flesh, and clothe myself with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Psalm 23:1-6

This is a tough chapter to briefly summarize, for every point is epic.

What an absolute blessing to have the LORD as my Shepherd, to be a part of His flock! Other Psalms also mention this Shepherd-Sheep relationship:

Psalm 95:7a (NKJV) “For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand.”

Psalm 100:3 (NKJV) “Know that the LORD, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.”

As my Shepherd, He takes care of me, supplies all of my needs, gives me rest and peace in plush pastures. He leads me, restores me and He’s with me, even in the dark valleys of life (so I have nothing to fear). He protects me from myself and from my enemies, and that comforts me. The blessings at the table of the LORD are overflowing to the point that His goodness and mercy pursue me all the days of my life. And then one day, on that day, when the race I have to run is done, I will cross that threshold and enter that door and dwell in His house – forever.

What a beautiful Psalm! It’s no wonder that this Psalm is one of the most prominent works of literature in the history of the world!

Some teachers have noted that Psalms 22-24 correlate to the 3 Shepherd titles in the New Testament:

The Good Shepherd – Psalm 22 – John 10:11

The Great Shepherd – Psalm 23 – Hebrews 13:20

The Chief Shepherd – Psalm 24 – 1 Peter 5:4

Proverbs 20:11

Proverbs 20:11 (NKJV) “Even a child is known by his deeds, whether what he does is pure and right.”

If it’s true of children, it’s even more true of us, we’re known by our deeds not our declarations, by our walk and not just our talk.

Jesus said in:

Matthew 7:16-20 (NKJV) “You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn-bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”

Just because we claim to be Christians doesn’t mean we are…there must be good fruit that follows, there must be evidence in order to have that confidence, we’re pure and right with God.

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

July 29, 2021

2 Chronicles 24:1–25:28

We read something rather revealing in:

2 Chronicles 24:2 (NKJV) “Joash did what was right in the sight of the LORD all the days of Jehoiada the priest.”

We will see this young man, Joash become a godly king. He will take care of the House of the LORD and ensure that the dilapidations were repaired, after all, the care and condition of the Temple would be a partial reflection of their care and heart for God. When the funds didn’t seem to be fueled in the right direction Jehoash made what we would call at Calvary Chapel El Monte, an “Agape Box,” and the people would place their offerings in the chest, inserting into the hole in its lid.

He cared about the Temple, and more importantly the God whose Temple it was. Joash started off so well, but tragically when Jehoiada the High Priest and his father-figure, passed away, Joash did not continue to serve the LORD. It’s for that reason he was assassinated.

We’re grateful for the help of our friends and mentors, but let’s make sure that our faith is not propped up by them. That was the case of Joash with Jehoiada and when his prop was gone, he fell – and fell hard. It all started when some of the leaders flattered and manipulated him. We read in;

2 Chronicles 24:17–18 (NKJV) “Now after the death of Jehoiada the leaders of Judah came and bowed down to the king. And the king listened to them. 18 Therefore they left the house of the LORD God of their fathers, and served wooden images and idols; and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem because of their trespass.”

I thank God for those who are encouraging and offer sincere compliments, but we need to beware of some who may simply be flattering us in order to get their way. They may even be instruments of the enemy to move us out of the “Way” of God. Such was the case with Joash. King Joash did not listen to the prophets of the LORD, including the son of Jehoida, and allowed him to be killed…he did not remember the counsel or kindness of Jehoida, the one who raised him up to be king.

How many times have we heard it said, “It’s not just how we start, but how we finish?” God help us to learn from these kings, may we finish well. Recently I was watching the Olympics, and I was reminded of this principal in a swimming competition, the swimmer who finished strong, won the gold.

Next, the son of Joash, Amaziah was crowned king of Judah. He was a comparatively good king who did what was right in the sight of the LORD. We have an example of him doing things according to God’s Word, which is all God asks of rulers and those in positions of authority. Unfortunately Amaziah’s heart was lifted up in pride after a few victories (it can happen to any of us) and he picked a fight with Israel that he shouldn’t have. He was soundly defeated, not killed, but the nation of Judah suffered great loss because of their king.

Romans 12:1-21

Romans 12 is another classic chapter that in one sense, transitions into practical application. Notice how Paul begins with the word “therefore.” This takes us back to 11 chapters of deep theology, (honing in on soteriology – the doctrine of salvation – how to have life). Now we learn how to live that life. Before duty, we should always have doctrine, before behavior comes belief.

Present your bodies as living sacrifices. Our bodies aren’t sinful, they’re neutral. We can use them for good or evil, and the logical conclusion to so great a salvation is to present them to God. I am to let Him have every member of my body. My mind, my heart, my eyes, my hands, my lips, every part of my person should be surrendered to God.

The inclination and great temptation is to live like the world – which is trying to shape us into their mold, but I am to resist the say and sway of the world (1 John 5:19).

How does the world mold us? In many ways, including their schools, television, movies, radio, music, social media – (sexuality, materialism, appearance, entertainment, leisure, sports, selfishness, etc.) they present their mores in many ways, but our values should come only from God who has given us His Word.

On the contrary, rather than being conformed to this world I am to be transformed by the renewing of my mind, that I might prove what the will of God is for my life. The Greek word used in this passage is the origin of our English word, metamorphosis. I am to be changed, transformed from the inside out, just as a creeping caterpillar becomes a beautiful butterfly!

Paul goes on to encourage the church to exercise their gifts in humility. Let no one think too highly of themselves, even pastors are just a different part of the body, we’re different, we’re equal, we all need each other, we’re one. I like to remind Christians to discover their gifts, develop their gifts, and to deploy their gifts.

After those words on serving side-by-side with each other, Paul goes on to give some absolutely amazing words on how we are to interact with each other. There’s so much here, solid scriptures jam packed like sardines. Here’s just a few:

Romans 12:9 (NKJV) “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.”

O Lord, please help me to love genuinely, sincerely, and fervently; to hate evil and hold tight to what is good.

Romans 12:12b (NKJV) “…continuing steadfastly in prayer.”

O Lord, please make me a man who prays without ceasing.

Romans 12:14 9NKJV) “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.”

O Lord, please make me to be like You. When You died on the cross You prayed for those who killed You. You said that this type of heart shows I’m Your child, we read Your words in: 

Matthew 5:43-48 (NKJV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

Romans 12:15 (NKJV) “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”

What an apt summary of the Christian life and ministry!

Romans 12:17-18 (NKJV) “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”

O Lord, I like to lash back, to fight fire with fire, to rise up in my own strength and take control of the situation, otherwise I feel humiliated – my pride is hurt – I’ll get walked on. So Lord, please help me to bless those who persecute me, to repay no one evil for evil – on the contrary, to overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:21 (NKJV) “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

O Lord, please make me to be this kind of overcomer.

Warren Wiersbe, “If yours is a godly life, you are bound to have enemies (Matthew 5:10–12; 2 Timothy 3:12); but leave all judgment to the Lord. If you let the Lord have His way, He will use your enemies to build you and make you more like Christ.”

Psalm 22:19-31

Verses 19-22 consist of prayer. As Jesus prayed and yielded Himself into the Father’s hands – His surrender brought salvation for us, leading to Jesus’ declaring us as His brethren, assembled together.

Psalm 22:22 (NKJV) “I will declare Your name to My brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will praise You.”

It’s beautiful to see the people God reaches out to in this Psalm, those who fear the Lord, the afflicted, the poor, all the ends of the world, all the families of the all the nations, even the prosperous of the earth.

I have a hunch the eating as described in Psalm 22:26, 29 are in reference to placing our faith in Jesus Christ. Remember what Jesus said?

John 6:54 (NKJV) “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Of course it’s not a literal, physical eating, it’s a spiritual “eating” in which we take it all in, we “swallow it all,” we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, we believe in His cross of redemption on our behalf. It begins the moment we believe in Him and it’s expressed every time we partake of communion.

I’ve always thought of Psalms 22:30-31 as missions verses we must pass on to our children and the next generation.

Psalm 22:30–31 (NLT) “Our children will also serve him. Future generations will hear about the wonders of the Lord. 31 His righteous acts will be told to those not yet born. They will hear about everything he has done.”

Proverbs 20:8-10

Proverbs 20:8 (NKJV) “A king who sits on the throne of judgment scatters all evil with his eyes.”

How does he scatter evil with his eyes? He’s a good ruler, a good leader, he’s not blind, he’s observant, he sees, and therefore he knows what must be done; he sees to it that evil is eradicated in his kingdom.

Proverbs 20:9 (NKJV) “Who can say, ‘I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?’”

On this side of time we will never arrive, we will never be perfect; on this side of time we will always be vulnerable.

Our hearts – when it’s just our heart we’re in big trouble according to: 

Jeremiah 17:9 (NKJV) “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?”

So, we can never say, “I have no sin…” not on this side of time…one day over yonder, the construction will be complete.

Proverbs 20:10 (NKJV) “Diverse weights and diverse measures, they are both alike, an abomination to the Lord.”

God wants us to be honest in all of our transactions; honesty is so important that He considers dishonesty an abomination. Let’s be sure to never, ever rip people off.

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

July 28, 2021

2 Chronicles 21:1–23:21

Jehoram, the son of Jehoshaphat became king at the age of 32. He reigned for 8 years but he wasn’t a good king. We read the reason for his rebellion against God in;

2 Chronicles 21:6 (NKJV) “And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, just as the house of Ahab had done, for he had the daughter of Ahab as a wife; and he did evil in the sight of the LORD.”

The ungodly marriages and alliances, especially into the family of Omri and Ahab, was his downfall. This family was deeply engaged in the worship of Baal, and it permeated into the Southern Kingdom of Judah. For this reason God allowed other nations to rebel – Edom, Libnah, the Philistines, and the Arabians all revolted against Judah at this time, and it was the LORD who authored it (2 Chronicles 21:16). It wasn’t just opposition nationally, it even happened to King Jehoram personally, physically. We read in:

2 Chronicles 21:18 (NKJV) “After all this the LORD struck him in his intestines with an incurable disease.”

This was something Elijah the prophet from the Northern Kingdom had warned him about in writing.

To no one’s sorrow, Jehoram died. He wasn’t even buried in the tombs of the kings.

After Jehoram, Ahaziah his son reigned in his place. He only reigned one year and was killed by Jehu, a man appointed by God to wipe out the house of Ahab, the wicked king of Israel who was married to Jezebel. We read this about Ahaziah:

2 Chronicles 22:3–4 (NKJV) “He also walked in the ways of the house of Ahab, for his mother advised him to do wickedly. 4 Therefore he did evil in the sight of the LORD, like the house of Ahab; for they were his counselors after the death of his father, to his destruction.”

So many warnings about who we marry, ungodly alliances, and worldly/wicked counselors. May we take these warnings to heart.

When Ahaziah died, his grandmother took the power to herself. We read in:

2 Chronicles 22:10 (NKJV) “Now when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the royal heirs of the house of Judah.”

Imagine that! This daughter of Ahab and Jezebel (2 Kings 8:18) murdered all of her son’s descendants in order to crown herself as Queen of Judah. But Jehoshabeath, the sister of King Ahaziah  was able to save one of the Ahaziah’s sons (Joash) an infant at the time…and he was raised in the temple under the supervision of Jehoiada the priest. 

When Joash was seven years-old, Jehoida made his move to crown Joash as king. Jehoiada was a godly man who knew the Word of the LORD. We read his declaration in:

2 Chronicles 23:3 (NKJV) “Then all the assembly made a covenant with the king in the house of God. And he said to them, ‘Behold, the king’s son shall reign, as the LORD has said of the sons of David.’”

Jehoiada mustered up the support of the priests, the prominent men, and all of Judah to overthrow Athaliah and crown Joash as king. Since Joash was the rightful heir, their plan was blessed by God and Athaliah was executed. Not only did they put a crown on the head of Joash, they put a Bible into the hands of this young man (2 Chronicles 23:11). The Bible in our hands and hearts is the key to wisdom and life, for everyone, especially to leaders (see also Deuteronomy 17:18).

Isn’t it beautiful what we read in:

2 Chronicles 23:16 (NKJV) “Then Jehoiada made a covenant between himself, the people, and the king, that they should be the LORD’s people.”

They went on to break down the altars of Baal and get rid of the ungodly influences in the nation of Judah. So all the people rejoiced, for the LORD had appointed a godly leader. 

Romans 11:13-36

Paul warns the Gentiles not to get haughty, for just as the Jews fell, they could fall as well. We read Paul’s warning in: 

Romans 11:20-21 (NKJV) “Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either.”

Israel was the root, it was the original Olive Tree. We, as Gentiles were grafted into that tree, but one day God will restore Israel, they will have faith in Him. Just as the Gentiles were saved, God will save and restore the Jews, during the last 3-1/2 years of the Tribulation Period. What a blessing that will be when it takes place nationally. I’ve noticed over the years, that there’s always something special about a Jew, born anew.

Paul does not want us to be ignorant about the fact that we are living in the times of the Gentiles (Luke 21:24). When the fullness of the Gentiles takes place, the rapture will occur, and God will deal with Israel in the final “week” (7-year period) of the 70 weeks of Daniel (see Daniel 9:24-27).

It’s important to have a balanced view of God. To those who are comfortable, maybe even haughty, Paul tells us to consider God’s severity, His holiness. To those who are “out there,” lost and hurting, Paul tells them to consider God’s goodness, His grace. As I read my Bible, I’ve always noticed that the beautiful balance between these two attributes of God, His grace and holiness, His goodness and severity, keeps us in a balanced walk with God.


Romans 8 – Israel’s Past

Romans 9 – Israel’s Present

Romans 10 – Israel’s Future

Israel’s will be grafted back into the vine, and receive Jesus as their Messiah.

It’s challenging to understand all these things, and we will never fully comprehend the wisdom of God’s plan. Although we don’t understand it, we can rest in the fact that it’s all part of God’s plan…and God is not done with the Jews.

Paul closes his section of theology and soteriology with a beautiful doxology in Romans 11:33-36. 

Romans 11:36 (NKJV) “For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.”

Psalm 22:1-18

Again, I sigh as I type.

This is the Psalm that prophesied the cross of Jesus Christ, 600 years before the Phoenicians even invented crucifixion. The Romans would later go on to master this form of execution, which offered the maximum amount of pain over the maximum amount of time.

Jesus quoted Psalm 22:1 from the cross (Matthew 27:46). At the 9th hour (3PM), the sky was darkened, and it was then that the Father placed on Jesus all the sins, of all the world, of all time. The Father was therefore forced to turn His back on His Son. It was the first time in all eternity that the Father was separated from His Son (that’s what sin does, it separates us from God – Isaiah 59:1-2).

This is was what Jesus dreaded the most. This is why Jesus prayed for the cup to pass from Him. SUFFERING WAS THE START OF IT, SIN WAS A PART OF IT, BUT SEPARATION WAS THE HEART OF IT.

He was forsaken so that we would never have to be forsaken, if we place our faith in Jesus Christ (Hebrews 13:5).

They mocked and surrounded Him; His mouth was dry, His bones were dislocated, His heart was broken.

They pierced His hands and feet (Psalm 22:16).

They gambled for His clothes (Psalm 22:18; Matthew 27:35).

This chapter, along with Isaiah 53 are two of the most vivid prophecies of the cross. He suffered to save us, He died that we might live…may we believe and receive, and never forget the extent of His love (Romans 5:8).

Proverbs 20:7

Proverbs 20:7 (NKJV) “The righteous man walks in his integrity; his children are blessed after him.”

A righteous man, is a man in right relationship with God, it’s not just positional it’s practical, it’s not just talk it’s walk – and he experiences the biggest blessing in the whole wide world…his children are blessed after him.

Now does that mean that every child of a sold out and surrendered saint is always saved? No, not necessarily. Every child must make a choice. But these children have a great chance…and they will be blessed if they’re in a family whose mom and dad walked in their integrity.

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

July 27, 2021

2 Chronicles 19:1–20:37

King Jehoshaphat was a good king in Judah, but not perfect. He aligned himself with the Northern Kingdom of Israel through marriage, and the prophets rebuked him for this – twice in today’s reading (2 Chronicles 19:2; 20:37; see 1 Corinthians 15:33).

In chapter 19 we read of a sweeping movement Jehoshaphat led, that included the people of Israel as well. We read in 2 Chronicles 19:4 that Jehoshaphat “…brought them back to the LORD God of their fathers.”  

A large part of the movement was the judges Jehoshaphat appointed and the justice he sought. He reminded these judges that they judged for the LORD, not for man (2 Chronicles 19:6). He commanded them to rule in the fear of the LORD, faithfully, and with a loyal heart (2 Chronicles 19:9). He set the justice system in order and said them to “Behave courageously and the LORD will be with the good.” (2 Chronicles 19:11)

Of course, whenever we set our hearts to seek the LORD, the enemy will come against us. Such is the case of Jehoshaphat, and three nations attacked Judah – Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir (Edom). Did you catch their response?

2 Chronicles 20:3–4 (NKJV) “And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. 4 So Judah gathered together to ask help from the LORD; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD.”

They went to God in prayer. Not pretend prayer, not poser prayer, not half-heartedly, no, they sought God big-time. I often relate to the words of Jehoshaphat:

2 Chronicles 20:12 (NKJV) “O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”

Lord, YOU take care of this situation, this opposition, please. I’m not able to do this in my own wisdom and strength, and I don’t know what to do (I find myself there often). But my eyes are on You.

The LORD responded to the faith of this “flock” and gave them such an amazing victory that they didn’t even have to fight in this battle. They only needed to believe (2 Chronicles 20:17, 20).

I love the fact that the musicians led the way and went before the army praising the LORD. Next thing you know Judah’s enemies were fighting amongst themselves, and they destroyed  each other.

They named the place of victory the Valley of Berachah. It almost sounds like an oxymoron. A valley usually speaks of something bad. Berachah means “blessing.” But often times those two go hand-in-hand, and God transforms the valleys to victories.

Romans 10:14–11:12

Paul goes on to share our responsibility in getting the gospel out. The people won’t call on Christ unless they believe, and they won’t believe in Him unless they hear of Him, and they won’t hear unless someone preaches to them, and no one will preach unless they are sent. So…let’s be senders of those who are sent by God. And, may those who are sent, answer the call.

Paul closes chapter 10 with a couple of truths, that in one sense, the whole world has heard – the heavens declare the glory of God, and the law is written on their hearts. This is general revelation. But we still need that special revelation, the living Word (Jesus) and the written Word…to be given to those who have never heard.

The second thing is Israel should have known about the Gentiles being saved, because it’s throughout the Scriptures. Paul quotes from Deuteronomy 32:21 and Isaiah 65:1 to prove his point.

Pastor Chuck said, “If the Jews had been paying attention, they would have realized that all God ever wanted to do was to save the world. If they had been listening to His Word, it would have been clear that God wanted to use them to accomplish that.”

The conclusion to the chapter is such a heavy word for me to consider each and every day:

Romans 10:21 (NKJV) “But to Israel he says: ‘All day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and contrary people.’”

Other translations use the words obstinate, stubborn, and rebellious.

O Lord, thank You for Your long-suffering with me, for Your everlasting love. May I be obedient, broken, and completely compliant to You. May I see You as You are…so gracious towards me, beckoning me with open arms all day long.

We see in Romans 11 that God is not done with Israel. Not only does God have a remnant of Jewish believers today, but He will do a sweeping work to save Israel in the future.

As I read my Bible, I find that if a man hardens his heart, God will eventually do the same thing to that heart as He did with Pharaoh. Israel rejected Jesus, so God eventually hardened their hearts, blinded their eyes, and deafened their ears. He only honored their decision and therefore ceased to show them His ways and speak to their hearts, but, this would lead to the salvation of the Gentiles.

It’s interesting how we see this illustrated in a microscopic way as Paul was ministering in the book of Acts he would almost always start with the Jews, in the Synagogue, and when they, in a general sense, rejected the Gospel, he would leave the Synagogue and focus his time and attention on the Gentiles. God has done the same in a wider scope and herein lies the principal set forth in Romans 11.

The Gentiles’ salvation will provoke Israel to jealousy…and one day Israel will believe in Jesus as their Messiah. Paul closes, with the glory of such a thought:

Romans 11:12 (NLT) “Now if the Gentiles were enriched because the people of Israel turned down God’s offer of salvation, think how much greater a blessing the world will share when they finally accept it.”

We’ll see in Revelation 7 the 144,000 Jewish evangelists unleashed on the world during the Tribulation Period…bringing people to Jesus.

Psalm 21:1-13

David praises God for how good the King has been to this king.

The shepherd from that little town of Bethlehem was crowned with a crown of pure gold, ruling God’s people from Jerusalem. Wow!

The Lord had defeated all of David’s enemies (who also were God’s enemies) (Psalm 21:8-9).

Psalm 21:2 (NKJV) “You have given him his heart’s desire, and have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah”

The above passage inspires me to keep praying for the desires God has placed in my heart.

Psalm 21:11 (NKJV) “For they intended evil against You; they devised a plot which they are not able to perform.”

What a comforting truth! The enemy has evil intentions, he even devises plans against us, but as we abide in Christ, and simply stay in the shadow of God’s wings, the enemy is unable to perform what he has planned. We seem to always go back to:

Romans 8:31 (NKJV) “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”

And this is why we sing… (Psalm 21:13).

Proverbs 20:4-6

Proverbs 20:4 (NKJV) “The lazy man will not plow because of winter; he will beg during harvest and have nothing.”

Another exhortation repeated frequently in the Proverbs, don’t be lazy. Work hard, even when it’s cold outside, otherwise the day will come when we’ll have a whole lot of nothing.

Proverbs 20:5 (NKJV) “Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.”

Now, this might mean we draw it out of others, or we draw it out of ourselves…which is fascinating

Bible Knowledge Commentary, “…a discerning person can help another bring to the surface his true thoughts, intentions, or motives. Often a wise counselor can help a person examine his true motives…thoughts he may not fully understand otherwise.”

Now, the Hebrew word translated “counsel” does mean just that, counsel, or advice, and here the Proverbs tells us it’s like deep water. It can be challenging to get to that particular water drawn out.

But – a man of understanding is able to. So whether it’s counsel for yourself, or counsel for others, make sure to dive deep into God’s Word, let the pail of prayer go far into that well, and you watch, God will give you that wisdom from above.

Proverbs 20:6 NKJV) “Most men will proclaim each his own goodness, but who can find a faithful man?”

Faithfulness is all God asks of us. We read in:

1 Corinthians 4:2 (NKJV) “Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.”

Most men toot their own horn and boast of their own goodness (at least deep down inside), but true faithfulness is are rare commodity nowadays. Just saying…

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.