All posts by mannycoronilla

June 22, 2021

2 Kings 3:1-4:17

We’re not sure what would compel King Jehoshaphat to once again, allow Judah to  join forces with Israel, and even Edom, but he does…in war against Moab. As they travel by way of the wilderness of Edom, they find themselves without water. Jehoshaphat is wise in looking to God for provision, he asks for a prophet of the LORD – Elisha obliges because of the presence of the King of Judah (2 Kings 3:14).

In order for Elijah to hear from the LORD, he has a request:

2 Kings 3:15 (NKJV) “But now bring me a musician.” Then it happened, when the musician played, that the hand of the LORD came upon him.

Pastor Chuck Smith comments on this, “There seems to be a definite tie between the music and the anointing of God upon the prophet. This happened often in biblical days. And this is why we give a prominent place to music in our worship services today. It prepares our hearts for the Word of God and opens the door for the working of the Spirit in our lives. Paul said in Ephesians 5:18-19 that (worship) music is a sign of being filled with the Spirit.” 

God provided water for the three kings and gave them victory over Moab – nothing is too hard for Him. The victory would have been absolute, had it not been for the horrendous act of the king of Moab offering his son as a burnt offering.

Warren Wiersbe comments, “Hoping to get some good out of the war, the king of Moab attacked Edom alone, but he failed to conquer. In desperation, he even sacrificed the crown prince. The deed was so repulsive to Judah and Moab that they left the field in great anger against Israel for ever getting them involved. When you join forces with those who do not love God, you never know what will happen to embarrass or offend you or to disgrace the Lord’s name.” 

Elisha has that double-portion of the spirit of Elijah and uses it for the glory of God and the good of the people. God is able to help multiple nations simultaneously, He is also assists a widow, and a barren woman who has shown hospitality to the prophet. Nothing is too big, or too small, whether it be something globally, nationally, financially, or in the family – God is moving, guiding and providing, let’s just keep praying and believing!

Acts 14:8-28

Paul and Barnabas continue on in what we refer to as “Paul’s First Missionary Journey.” In Iconium they preached the gospel. Some believed, others opposed, God was moving, but because the opposition escalated to the point of danger, they moved on to the next city.

In Lystra it all began with Paul discovering a lame man who had the faith to be healed, even though this man had never walked. Paul spoke healing words over him, and the cripple from his mother’s womb, not only walked, he leaped! The people saw, and in awe deified Paul and Barnabas (Wiersbe calls this a greater danger). Exaltation is a greater danger then persecution.

Paul and Barnabas react appropriately, however, tearing their clothes as they cry out in protest. The “Great Men” in the Bible are men with a nature like ours (James 5:17) as I’ve always said, “The best of men are men at best.”

Pastor Chuck commented by saying, “God uses common people. God uses ordinary men to accomplish His work. God wants to use you! You say, ‘Oh no, not me!’ Yes you! The men God uses are always surprised that God would use them. Who knows what God could do through your life if you were fully yielded to Him.”

The accolades don’t last too long (men are fickle) and the Jews from Antioch and Iconium come and speak evil against Paul. They therefore stone him to death (it’s probably at this time that Paul is caught up to the third heaven – 2 Corinthians 12:2). God brings him back, raises him from the dead and the next day he departs to Derbe, and then does something so amazing! He goes back to those very cities – where his murderers are – where he’s a wanted man! Wow, he must have really cared about those new Christians. Sandy Adams said, “Paul could have avoided danger by returning to Antioch via land, but Paul was not one for taking the easy way out. He returns the way he came. Paul was willing to risk his neck not only to save sinners, but also to strengthen saints.”

Paul’s words carry a little more weight, considering the fact that he was just stoned to death:

Acts 14:22 (NKJV) “strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.’”

There are no words to adequately articulate the immensity of this first missionary journey! It eventually ends, they set sail for their home church (their sending church) and we read in:

Acts 14:27 (NKJV) “Now when they had come and gathered the church together, they reported all that God had done with them, and that He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.”

The above map is from the website: (link to map)

Psalm 140:1-13

David once again, prays for God to protect him from those (there were many) who rose up against him; they were evil men, violent men, men who planned evil things in their hearts. They apparently spoke the language of Lucifer – lies! Many wars start and are waged with words, arent’ they? It’s demonic and does so much damge!

Psalm 140:3 (NKJV) “They sharpen their tongues like a serpent; the poison of asps is under their lips.”

So David prayed:

Psalm 140:6-8 (NKJV) “I said to the LORD: “You are my God; hear the voice of my supplications, O LORD. 7 O GOD the Lord, the strength of my salvation, You have covered my head in the day of battle. 8 Do not grant, O LORD, the desires of the wicked; do not further his wicked scheme, lest they be exalted.”

There were many who wanted to kill David because of the lies that were spoken about him. Under the leadership of King Saul there was an entire army hunting David down – but David prayed – and God protected him.

We need to do the same thing. One of the most difficult realities of life (even as a Christian) is people will “talk.” They want us to worry, or get engaged in the mud-sling ring. Don’t even go there. Go to God. Notice what we read in:

Psalms 109:4 (NKJV) “In return for my love they are my accusers, but I give myself to prayer.”

Let’s give ourselves to prayer. Let’s trust the Lord. It can be “dangerous” as a true disciple of Christ, but as we pray and trust – we can know that God will maintain our cause; we will thank Him and dwell in His presence. (Psalm 140:12-13)

Proverbs 17:22

A good word, a big smile, a positive outlook, even a sense of humor, it does us good.

But the person who refuses, who chooses not to look up or cheer up, does damage on the inside, it dries the bones; they won’t grow up and they may never even be able to stand up…the way God wants them to.

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.

June 21, 2021

2 Kings 1:1–2:25

Ahaziah, the king of Israel fell through a lattice and sent messengers to the false prophets of Baal-Zebub to see if he would recover from his injury. As the prophets were on their way, they were intercepted by Elijah, the prophet of the LORD. Elijah asked them why they would go to the god of Ekron, when there was a God in Israel? Elijah sent them back to their master with the news that the king would surely die from this fall.

King Ahaziah was surprised his messengers returned so soon, and they relayed the story with the description of the man – he was hairy, and wore a leather belt around his waist. The king knew it was Elijah, he also knew he was a man of God, so he sent for him.

Fifty men were consumed with fire that Elijah called down from heaven. Another fifty were consumed. The third group of fifty had a wise leader who pleaded for their lives. God showed them mercy and sent Elijah to the king with the same word – he would die for his idolatry.

2 Kings 1:16 (NKJV) “Then he said to him, ‘Thus says the LORD: ‘Because you have sent messengers to inquire of Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron, is it because there is no God in Israel to inquire of His word? Therefore you shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone up, but you shall surely die.’’”

Imagine calling fire down from heaven! Elijah was sent for that sort of reason and season, and he will do it again one day. The Bible predicts that Elijah will return during the Tribulation Period. I believe he is one of the two prophets in Revelation 11:5 and he will do the same things. He will prophesy to the people, open and close the heavens (controlling the rain), and call fire down to devour those who want to hurt them (Malachi 4:5; Mark 9:12; Revelation 11:5-6).

As Elijah prepares to depart from planet earth, I was impressed by these “sons of the prophets.” Apparently there was some sort of schooling and training for them and all these guys in the different cities knew that Elijah was to be taken from them that day (they were in tune). Elijah commanded Elisha his assistant to leave him, but this was one time Elisha refused to submit. He repeatedly insisted, “As the LORD lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you.”

As Elijah was about to depart, he asked Elisha what he wanted. Elisha was wise to ask for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit (anointing). Elijah wasn’t sure if such a lofty request would be answered, we have his response:

2 Kings 2:10 (NKJV) “So he said, ‘You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so.’”

It was up to God.

God DID allow Elisha to see Elijah depart, as he was taken up in a chariot of fire, and a double portion was given to Elisha who did twice as many miracles as his predecessor. It was obvious to the prophets, that the spirit of Elijah rested on Elisha.

As we see the amazing work God did through Elijah some might ask the same question Elisha asked, “Where is the LORD God of Elijah?” Why don’t we see God move in mighty ways as He did “back then?” We might ask, “Where is the God of Elijha?”

But maybe the better question is, “Where are the Elijahs?”

Just in case you’re struggling with what happened to the 42 youths, here’s some insight from Thomas Howe and Norman Geisler:

“First of all, this was no minor offense, for these young men held God’s prophet in contempt. Since the prophet was God’s mouthpiece piece to His people, God Himself was being most wickedly insulted in the person of His prophet. 

Second, these were not small, innocent children. They were wicked young men, comparable to a modern street gang. Hence, the life of the prophet was endangered by their number, the nature of their sin, and their obvious disrespect for authority. 

Third, Elisha’s action was designed to strike tear in the hearts of any other such gang members. If these voting gang members were not afraid to mock a venerable man of God such as Elisha, then they would have been a threat to the lives of all God’s people. 

Fourth, some commentators note that their statements were designed to challenge Elisha’s claim to be a prophet. They were essentially saying, “If you are a man of God, why don’t you go oil up to heaven like Elijah did?” The term “baldhead” might be a reference to the fact that lepers shaved their heads. Such a comment would indicate that these young men looked upon Elisha as it detestable outcast. 

Fifth, it was not Elisha who took their lives, but God who alone could have providentially directed the bears to attack them. It is evident that by mocking this man of God, these young men were revealing their true attitudes toward God Himself. Such contempt for the Lord was punishable able by death. The Scriptures do not say that Elisha prayed for this kind of punishment. It was clearly an act of God in judgment upon this impious gang.” – Big Book of Bible Difficulties, The: Clear and Concise Answers from Genesis to Revelation

Acts 13:42–14:7

Paul’s first sermon recorded in the book of Acts is in Antioch of Pisidia, it went well. We read that many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, they were open to the message of Jesus. The Gentiles begged them that they come back and preach on the next Sabbath. In the meantime Paul and Barnabas, “persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.” (Great counsel!)

On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came out to hear the Word. Imagine that!

You would figure the Jewish leaders would rejoice with all the people, but the enemy got to them and they were filled with envy (what an ugly sin). Paul and Barnabas were forced to turn to the Gentiles in that city as the Word of God had predicted (Isaiah 42:6; 49:6). People were getting saved, and the message began to spread throughout all the region (Acts 13:48-49). It’s so beautiful to witness what God does whenever we take those steps of faith.

Eventually the day came when Paul and Barnabas were expelled by the leaders of the city. No worries, they shook off the dust and simply went to the next city – they weren’t bummed out, they were called out.

Acts 13:52 (NKJV) “And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”

As they continue their journey, they reach Iconium and preach the gospel. Some believed, others opposed, and God was moving. We don’t know how long the team stayed there but the Bible does give us a little information:

Acts 14:3 (NKJV) “Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.”

You can be sure, that whenever God moves, the enemy counters, and because the opposition escalated and got dangerous, they moved on to the next city, led by the Spirit and choosing not to test God. Little did these persecutors know that they were instrumental in the spreading of the gospel.

Psalm 139:1-24

This is one of most amazing Psalms of all! I almost feel bad trying to summarize it, so I’ll provide some links below, just in case you want to go a little more in depth.

In this Psalm we see the Omniscience of God (He knows everything). He knows everything about us, individually, and personally. When we read of God knowing my sitting down and rising up – in Hebrew poetry this is called a “merism.” It’s when the poet uses two extremes or opposites and intends to include everything in between.

We also see God’s Omnipresence. There is nowhere we can go to escape the presence of God, even if we traveled the speed of light, and took the wings of the morning (186,000 miles per second), God would be right there – with us.

If I had to neatly outline this Psalm I would say it this way:

I. God knows you Perfectly

II. God’s with you Constantly

III. God made you Purposely

And that latter point is what we see in verses 13-18. God knit us together in our mother’s womb for a life He planned out for us.

Psalm 139:16 (NKJV) “Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.”

I wish the world could see this truth – that life begins at the moment of conception. That God Himself makes us all uniquely (there are no mistakes on His part). There are purposes for every child conceived and their lives should not be taken from them. 

I’m in awe of the way that God loves us so much, that His thoughts toward us, are as the sand of the sea.

Apparently David (the writer of this Psalm) is going through some hard times, some fierce opposition. With all this understanding He prays for God’s intervention. He also prays for God to search his own heart. It’s a good prayer to pray, “Lord, if there’s anything wrong in me that I can’t see – please reveal it, that I might forsake it…and lead me in life.”

David also pray for God to help him with his anxiety.

Psalm 139:23–24 (NKJV) “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; 24 And see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

This is such a beautiful Psalm, making clear, God is near…working out this amazing plan for our lives.

Click HERE if you’d like to view the notes when I taught this Psalm.

Proverbs 17:19-21

V. 19 – He who loves a quarrel loves strife, just think, there are some people like that. The gate here MAY be speaking of this person’s mouth – he brags, talks smack, and is headed for destruction.

V. 20 – I like the way the NLT puts it, “The crooked heart will not prosper; and the lying tongue tumbles into trouble.”

(see the connection between the heart and the tongue in Luke 6:45)

V. 21 – A scoffer is one who ridicules, mocks, scorns and scoffs when we try to share God’s Word of wisdom. A fool is one who acts unwisely or without prudence, they’ve been “fooled” by the world under the sway of the wicked one.

If our children are scoffers or fools, our sorrow is deep, our joy is depleted. This is a lesson in life, not just a statement of truth, but a word to parents, and even to children, let’s do all that we can to not raise (or be) scoffers or fools.

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.

June 20, 2021

1 Kings 22:1-53

We read in 1 Kings 22:44 that Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, made peace with Ahab the king of Israel. Jehoshophat was a good king, but Ahab was an evil king. This was not a wise alliance. As I read the story I want to give Jehoshaphat the benefit of the doubt, maybe he was trying to win Ahab back to the LORD, knowing the history of Israel. Maybe he was seeking unity in the “family.” He may have had a “good heart,” with good intentions, but it was not good…he lacked wisdom. There is a time to unite, and a time to divide.

As Ahab decides to go to war against Syria, he asks Jehoshaphat to join him. Jehoshaphat wholeheartedly agrees, emphasizing their unity (1 Kings 22:4) but he asks to hear from a prophet of the LORD (this is God’s covenant name). Is there any left as counselor to the king in Israel? Notice Ahab’s response:

1 Kings 22:8 (NKJV) “So the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, ‘There is still one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may inquire of the LORD; but I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil.’ And Jehoshaphat said, ‘Let not the king say such things!’”

The false prophets were predicting victory, words that Ahab wanted to hear. When Micaiah was compelled to speak the truth, he predicted Ahab’s death:

1 Kings 22:17 (NKJV) “Then he said, ‘I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd. And the LORD said, ‘These have no master. Let each return to his house in peace.’’”

The king and false prophet mocked him, and even beat Micaiah, but he was telling the truth. It was all part of God’s plan, in allowing lying spirits to be used in the judgment of Ahab. Some might wonder how God could allow demons to do their work, but keep in mind, the truth was also told, a revelation of heaven itself given to Ahab, but he chose NOT to listen to the LORD.

Isn’t it interesting the way God made it clear that it wasn’t Syria who killed Ahab (although that was their intention – to get the king) it was God who judged Ahab. A “random” arrow struck the king of Israel between the joints of his armor (1 Kings 22:34) even through he disguised himself. The dogs licked up his blood, just as the LORD had spoken in 1 Kings 21:19.

Although Jehoshaphat lacked wisdom in his alliance with Ahab, he was a good king in Judah. We read about him in:

1 Kings 22:43a (NKJV) “And he walked in all the ways of his father Asa. He did not turn aside from them, doing what was right in the eyes of the LORD.”

Jehoshaphat may have learned from his mistake with Ahab and therefore did not align himself with Ahab’s son Ahaziah (see 1 Kings 22:49). Ahaziah was an evil king in Israel (1 Kings 22:52) who did evil in the sight of the LORD.

Acts 13:16-41

God is about to do a great work in Antioch of Pisidia, where we have Paul’s first sermon in the book of Acts! He gives a brief history of Israel, and then makes a beeline to Jesus. 

We will see in the book of Acts that the practice of Paul the Apostle would be to attend Synagogue service and there share the Gospel. At the dispersion of the Jews, Synagogues were built all around the world. All that was required for a city to have a Synagogue would be 10 Jewish men. The Jews were anticipating the coming of the Messiah and they would spread the word to the Gentiles. The Gentiles who believed, would be referred to in the book of Acts as “God fearers,”  or “You who fear God.” (notice the distinction in Acts 13:16)

God had prepared the world for the spreading of the Gospel – with the Jewish diaspora and Synagogues, the Greek language which became almost “universal,” and the Roman roads which allowed travel throughout the empire.

Paul knew his Jewish history. He knew they were anticipating the coming Messiah, the descendant of David. Everyone knew about the recent ministry of John the Baptist, and how he pointed to the One who would come after him. Paul simply had to explain that the cross and resurrection were all part of God’s plan for the Messiah, predicted in Scripture…and then the punchline.

Acts 13:38–39 (NKJV) “Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; 39 and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.”

It was time for the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31). The law had fulfilled its purpose in revealing the fact that we were sinners in need of a Savior. Faith in Jesus, the Lamb of God would bring forgiveness and justification in the sight of God.

Paul warned them not to despise (look down on, think little of) this glorious gospel (good news) (Acts 13:41).

The above map is from the website: (link to map)

Psalm 138:1-8

This brief Psalm of David is packed with powerful truths to contemplate.

Do I praise God with my WHOLE HEART? (Psalm 138:1)

Do I praise Him for His love and truth?

Speaking of truth – do I realize that God has magnified His Word above His name? That speaks volumes! The Jews venerated the name of the LORD so much, that we don’t really know how to pronounce it because they were afraid to speak it, or even write it, and violate the third commandment which forbids us to take His name in vain. But here we read that God’s Word has been elevated above His name? Do I praise God for the Bible?

David shares how God answers prayer (Psalm 138:3) and David knows that one day every knee will bow, even the kings of the earth…to the King of kings.

Psalm 138:6 (NKJV) ”Though the LORD is on high, yet He regards the lowly; but the proud He knows from afar.”

Let’s humble ourselves. Let’s encourage ourselves in that God regards us, loves us, thinks of us, and is working out a wonderful plan for all of our lives. That’s what we read in v. 8

Psalm 138:8 (NKJV) “The LORD will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O LORD, endures forever; do not forsake the works of Your hands.”

The Lord will finish what He’s started in all our lives. In His mercy He will not forsake us, the work of His hands…we know that and its just good to pray that, pray Bible.

Proverbs 17:17-18

V. 17 – Isn’t it wonderful to have a friend, a true friend – to be a friend – who will always love no matter what?

And then there’s this brother born for adversity. I believe these can be speaking of the same person, that a true brother is born, or born-again, to help you through the tough and trying times in life.

V. 18 – A warning against co-signing.

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.

June 19, 2021

1 Kings 20:1–21:29

Samaria, the capital of Israel, was surrounded by the forces of Syria, horses and chariots, AND thirty-two other kings were with them. 

King Ahab was willing to surrender his silver and gold, loveliest wives and children to the king of Syria, but when Ben Hadad demanded the freedom to search and take anything their hearts desired, Ahab brought it to the elders of Israel who counseled the king to resist. The king of Syria then threatened to reduce Samaria to dust. 

At this point a prophet is sent to King Ahab:

1 Kings 20:13 (NKJV) “Suddenly a prophet approached Ahab king of Israel, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD: Have you seen all this great multitude? Behold, I will deliver it into your hand today, and you shall know that I am the LORD.’”

Sure enough, the LORD defeated Syria and all her friends and forces! If only Ahab would have opened his heart to see and surrender his life to the LORD, that was God’s heart, His intention and reason for the victory. 

Round 1 goes to Israel. 

As a quick side-note, I thought it was interesting to read the words of the prophet who counseled Ahab to strengthen himself because the king of Syria would attack again in the spring. Have you ever noticed that some days in our lives are tougher than others? Satan attacks in certain seasons. It’s wise to prepare ourselves in peaceful times, because the enemy will come against us again. 

The bell then rings, for round 2. 

The King of Syria assumes that the only reason Israel was able to defeat Israel was because their God was the God of the hills and not the plains or valleys. So he takes the battle there – and again, God sends His prophet to Israel. 

1 Kings 20:28 (NKJV) “Then a man of God came and spoke to the king of Israel, and said, ‘Thus says the LORD: Because the Syrians have said, The LORD is God of the hills, but He is not God of the valleys, therefore I will deliver all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the LORD.’”

And sure enough, God graciously gives Israel the victory over Syria. The LORD was proving Himself to Ahab, to Israel, and even to Syria. He’s also proving Himself to us. God is the God of the mountain-top experiences, He’s the God of the valleys in life, He’s there with us in the deepest darkest times. He’s also the God of the plains, when life seems pretty normal, pretty “plain.” Let make sure we don’t do the same thing that Ahab did, miss and dismiss all the LORD does to show Himself to us. 

King Ahab was a foolish king; he let the enemy of the nation he was appointed to protect, get away. The prophet let King Ahab know he would die as a result, so King Ahab was sullen. He was also sullen (he sulked, was depressed and moody) because he couldn’t get a vineyard adjacent to the palace that he wanted to make into a vegetable garden. In steps Jezebel, his wife who has the owner Naboth, murdered and allows Ahab to acqiure his vineyard. 

The prophet Elijah is then sent to Ahab to pronounce judgment for what he’s done. Not just death, but he and Jezebel would be eaten by dogs. A couple of things stand out:

1 Kings 21:20 ((NKJV) “So Ahab said to Elijah, “Have you found me, O my enemy?” And he answered, “I have found you, because you have sold yourself to do evil in the sight of the LORD.”

Ahab sold himself to do evil.

1 Kings 21:25 (NKJV) “But there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do wickedness in the sight of the LORD, because Jezebel his wife stirred him up.”

What a difference an ungodly spouse can make. Ahab was weak and therefore wicked. Maybe he though he could turn a blind eye to all his wife was doing, but as a husband, he was responsible for his family.

His attempt at remorse, however, was seen by God and delayed the judgment. 

Acts 12:24–13:15

Herod tried to stop the work of God. He even thought of himself AS a god, but Herod died, and the Word of God lived on, it continued to grow and multiply. 

Barnabas and Saul took benevolence to the church in Jerusalem, and while they were there, they brought to Antioch a young man named John-Mark (he was the nephew of Barnabas). 

What a beautiful work God was doing in the church at Antioch – they were rich in the Word with many prophets and teachers. They sought the Lord and served the Lord, even with fasting. And then the day came when the Holy Spirit made it clear that He had a mission for Barnabas and Saul. The church laid hands on them, fasted and prayed some more, and being sent out by the Holy Spirit, the 1st Missionary Journey was born! Antioch would become a launching pad.

Sandy Adams said, “The Lord picked, the church prayed, and Paul and Barnabas parted.” The church had finally come to the point where they were convinced that Gentiles could be saved, this is now a deliberate attempt to reach them.

They traveled to the island of Cyprus, which was the homeland of Barnabas, where they preached the Word, experienced opposition, discerned and dispelled demons, and God did a great work. Saul stepped it up and God raised him up. Just as Saul was blinded when he was saved, so he did to Elymas the sorcerer. It would give him time to think.

It didn’t take long for Saul to be established as the leader, and Barnabas had no problem with it whatsoever. Did you notice the subtle transition of the Holy Spirit in writing the book of Acts? What used to be Barnabas and Saul, is now Paul and his party. 

We’re not 100% sure why Mark went home at this point, he may have been disgruntled at the “change” in leadership, but most say he got scared. It was a dangerous journey they were taking. This would later be a point of great contention between Paul and Barnabas. 

The above map is from the website: (link to map)

Psalm 137:1-9

Imagine being taken away to a foreign land, there in captivity because of your sin. It’s understandable that Israel wept, that they missed Zion (Jerusalem), but they should have also wept over their sins. 

The Babylonians asked the Jews to sing one of their Psalms, they were known for their joyful hymns…but how could they…while captive, in a foreign land?

I get mixed emotions on this. Some point to the fact that Paul and Silas were able to sing praises at midnight, but keep in mind, they were imprisoned for doing right. It’s much more challenging to praise God when we’ve done wrong and we’re suffering the consequences. 

Psalms 137:4 (NKJV) “How shall we sing the LORD’s song in a foreign land?”

If we ever find ourselves there, “in a foreign land,” due to our sin, let us begin with songs of repentance. 

It’s of utmost importance that the Jews never lost that heart for Jerusalem.  

Psalms 137:5-6 (NKJV) “If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill! If I do not remember you, let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth—if I do not exalt Jerusalem above my chief joy.”

Jerusalem is God promise to His people, both now and forever. May we never forget His promise of the city we all, as God’s people, will one day inhabit.

The Jews knew the prophecy, that Babylon would be defeated. Their imprecatory prayers, however, are without the full counsel of God (Matthew 5:44).

Proverbs 17:16

Proverbs 17:16 (NKJV) “Why is there in the hand of a fool the purchase price of wisdom, since he has no heart for it?”

What does it take to be a wise?

A heart for God (Proverbs 23:26) – we need to completely put our hearts into it. But if we’re not willing to give God our hearts – all of it – every area of my life – we need to know that that type of window shopping, doesn’t get us the goods, the wisdom we need.

Why do you bother with the “price,” if you’re not willing to pay?

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.

June 18, 2021

1 Kings 19:1-21

My heart goes out to Elijah. He went through that valley of depression and wanted to die.

At first, I didn’t understand how he could swing from one extreme to the other. How could he conduct himself with such courage before the king, be supernaturally supported by God for three years, lead an absolutely amazing and awesome victory over 450 prophets of Baal (calling fire down from heaven) and then have a complete meltdown at the threat of ONE woman.

It goes to show us that sometimes the most dangerous place to be is on the mountain-top of victory.

It goes to show us that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers (Ephesians 6:12) and any study of Jezebel would definitely lead to the conclusion that she was under the influence of the devil himself.

It goes to show that the battle doesn’t go away. Maybe Elijah thought the battle was over, but wasn’t.

If you were to look at a map, you would see that Elijah, ran, and ran, and ran, not just fleeing the nation of Israel, but to the very bottom, the southernmost portion of Judah (Beersheba). He sat down under a tree, and prayed that he might die.

And a word came to me – maybe God allowed this to happen to Elijah as an encouragement to the many, many people who struggle with similar thoughts. Who don’t have a will to live, they’ve lost that desire to keep going. Maybe some will be encouraged when they see what happened to Elijah, and realize, if it can happen to him, such a strong man of God, then I’m not without hope.

God will meet you there. It may not be in a spectacular way, like a hurricane, an earthquake, or a fire, it may just be in a still small voice. God sustained Elijah in every way, and He will do the same for you. Elijah thought his life and mission were in vain, that he was the only one left and he was about to die – that it was ALL in vain – but it wasn’t. God revealed to Elijah that He had reserved 7,000 men who had not bowed the knee to Baal.

God even commissioned Elijah with more work to do. His mission wasn’t over – as a matter of fact, it would expand. Elijah would be used to anoint the next king of Israel, and even in Syria. Elijah would anoint a successful successor (which says a lot), and check this out, ELIJAH WOULD NOT DIE. Not yet anyway. He would be taken up in a chariot of fire and return at the end of world history to usher in the coming of the King – THEN he would finish his race.

May we all be encouraged by this mysterious prophet named Elijah – a man with a nature like ours…in so many ways (James 5:17).

Acts 12:1-23

In Acts 12 we begin and end with King Herod, who stretches out his hand and kills James the Apostle (James had finished his race). After that, King Herod arrests Peter with the same intention (he sees how it pleases the Jews – it’s all politics to him). Peter is being guarded by 4 squads of soldiers, but he’s also being guarded by God.

Pastor Chuck informs us that, “This King Herod was Herod Agrippa, the First. He was half-Jewish, so he often tried to ingratiate himself with the Jews.”

In Acts 12:5 we read something so important, 

“…but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.”

In answer to their prayers, God sends an angel, who sets Peter free. Peter walks to Mary’s house (the mother of Mark) where they are all gathered together praying. When Rhoda lets them know that Peter’s at the gate, they say she’s crazy. But sure enough, it’s Peter, who tells them to send the report to James and the others in Jerusalem, while Peter lays low for a while. In reading the account, I don’t think we can credit their great faith (they doubt the answer when it comes) but we can definitely credit God’s grace, and learn a little lesson on their mustard seed of faith, and their willingness to pray.

Warren Wiersbe writes, “It is always right to pray, even if your faith is so weak you are surprised when the answer comes! Keep knocking—God opens doors.”

Peter is only mentioned one other time in the book of Acts (15:7), as God now shifts to the ministry through Paul the Apostle.

Meanwhile, it’s interesting how the Scriptures go on to chronicle King Herod. One day he’s giving a speech to the people of Tyre and Sidon, who flatter him for food. We read in Acts 12:22, that the people kept shouting, “The voice of a god and not of a man.” So, God struck him, because he did not give glory to God…and did you notice the order of events? First he was eaten by worms and then he died. 

Herod tried to stop the work of God, but no man can!

Psalm 136:1-26

Gratitude and Mercy flow through this Psalm. 

“Oh give thanks…” how we are to forever and always be grateful to God.

Grateful that His mercy endures forever. He doesn’t give me what I deserve. I deserve Hell. I deserve death. I deserve punishment. I deserve the loss of all that is good, but – His mercy endures forever.

As we read through this Psalm, the history of the world and Israel – 4 things stand out. We should be grateful to God for His:

1. Creation

2. Redemption

3. Provision

4. Salvation

Psalms 136:23-24 (NKJV) “Who remembered us in our lowly state, for His mercy endures forever; and rescued us from our enemies, for His mercy endures forever.”

He remembered me in my lowly state, and saved me from my enemies (the world, the flesh, the devil – and the power and penalty of sin).

My life is now very simply a life lived in gratitude…for His mercy endures forever.

Proverbs 17:14-15

V. 14 – The NIV puts it this way;

Proverbs 17:14 (NIV) “Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.”

“Beware of the entrance to a quarrel…” – Shakespeare wrote

Most of us have heard that phrase, “Nip it in the bud.” Wise is the man who is able to do just that, nip it, stop it, recognize that “water” when it only begins to release – even the very drips of strife. Only by the grace of God our Father, the wisdom of Christ, and the personal power of the Holy Spirit can we stop contention before a quarrel starts, escalates, and then devastates.

V. 15 – Proverbs 17:15 (NKJV) “He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just, both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD.

There are those out there who let the wicked go free, and condemn the innocent. Tragically it happens frequently. We see it in personal situations amongst friends, work situations with employees, even judicial situations in court – bribes and favoritism have a lot to do with it – and God hates it. It’s an abomination to Him.

Abomination is a strong word, God’s displeasure upon such injustice is thoroughly hated by Him…it’s good for us to know this, so that we would always be fair and impartial.

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.

June 17, 2021

1 Kings 18:1-46

The drought in Israel had lasted three years. It led to a severe famine in the land…and now it was time. Elijah journeyed to present himself to King Ahab in obedience to God’s command. There was not only rain on the way, but a showdown was about to go down.

It just so happened that Elijah first crossed paths with Obadiah, the steward of Ahab’s house. Obadiah was a follower of the LORD, he had protected 100 prophets of the LORD by hiding them in caves and tending to their needs. Obadiah reveals to Elijah (and us) that King Ahab had searched everywhere for Elijah. We read in:

1 Kings 18:10 (NKJV) “As the LORD your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom where my master has not sent someone to hunt for you; and when they said, ‘He is not here,’ he took an oath from the kingdom or nation that they could not find you.’”

It just goes to show how God protects and even hides us as He sees fit – no one is allowed to touch us apart from His providential permission.

After 3 years of Divine discipline, it’s tragic to see that Ahab refers to Elijah as the troubler in Israel; Ahab had it backwards.

1 Kings 18:17–18 (NKJV) “Then it happened, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said to him, “Is that you, O troubler of Israel?” 18 And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the LORD and have followed the Baals.”

Elijah challenges the prophets of Baal and Asherah to a showdown. Elijah is passionate for the one true God, and the people of God. He wants to prove to them that the LORD is God (not Baal, Ashera, or any other deity) for their hearts were divided.

1 Kings 18:21 (NKJV) “And Elijah came to all the people, and said, ‘How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people answered him not a word.’”

At the core, this is why so many fall, and falter, we’re half-hearted. One part belongs to the Lord and the other part belongs to this world. Satan has a stronghold, even on saints, and the mystery and reality of being lukewarm and having left our first love permeates the church (Revelation 2:4; 3:16).

The challenge is fairly simple. They would prepare a bull, lay it on wood and put no fire under it. They were to call on Baal, Elijah would call on the LORD:

1 Kings 18:24b (NKJV) “…and the God who answers by fire, He is God.” 

Everyone agreed.

As the day unfolds, it’s sad to see how the prophets of Baal, cried, and leaped, and even cut themselves (this was their custom) in order to get Baal’s attention, but no one answered. Elijah offered some suggestions with a hint of sarcasm, maybe Baal was busy, on a journey, or perhaps he was asleep. But there was no voice; no one answered, no one paid attention. (all day long)

Then Elijah called the people closer to him. He set up 12 stones for the 12 tribes of Israel. He drenched the sacrifice and the wood with water, four times. Elijah prayed a simple prayer, sharing his heart – all he wanted was for the people to know that the LORD alone is God – and he wanted the people to know that he was a prophet of God (so they would heed his message). Sure enough, fire fell from heaven – proving to the people who God is.

1 Kings 18:39 (NKJV) “Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, ‘The LORD, He is God! The LORD, He is God!’”

The people then executed the prophets of Baal, and rightly so, under the theocratic laws of Israel. 

Next came rain, following the fervent prayers of Elijah, who prayed with his head between his knees, seven times. You would think the nation would turn to the LORD after these turn of events, right? God had proven Himself beyond a shadow of a doubt. But as we’ll see next time, sin and Satan get such a hold on souls, that even the most convincing of evidence rarely leads to genuine conversion.

Acts 11:1-30

When Peter returns to Jerusalem, those of the circumcision question him because they’d heard the word, that he’d broken bread with Gentiles (that broke their law). Peter tells them the whole story, which is interesting to note that Luke, the author of Acts, repeats in such detail. Keep in mind that in those days, parchment was bulky and very expensive. This emphasizes how important this event is, as we read in:

Acts 11:18 (NKJV) “When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, ‘Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.’”

“In Bible days, writing was not easy. Because parchment was used, and it was scarce, you had to conserve your words. For Luke to tell the entire story twice indicates that God’s extension of grace to the Gentiles was an important juncture for the church.”– Pastor Chuck Smith

As the Gospel continues to spread, a great work begins in the city of Antioch of Syria. Barnabas is therefore sent to Antioch. When he saw the grace of God upon the people he encouraged them to stay true to the Lord, with all their hearts. Barnabas is called a “good man.” This is the only time in the New Testament where someone is specifically identified in such a way, and the explanation is that he was “full of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 11:24)

Barnabas then goes looking for Saul. Apparently he needs help in the church; he needs leadership and some solid teaching, and the Lord laid Saul on his heart. What an epic step of faith; truly Barnabas was worthy of his name, “Son of Encouragement”(Acts 4:36).

Notice the epic fruit.

Acts 11:26b (NKJV) “And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.” 

“Christian means ‘little Christ.’ The Romans meant it as a derogatory term, but the believers in Antioch accepted it as an honor. Is your life a miniature model of what others can see in the Savior? Are you a ‘Christian’ in the truest sense of the word?”– Sandy Adams

At the close of the chapter, there’s a prophecy regarding a famine on the way – not just for information, but for action. So, they determine to send help, as each one is able, and they sent it by the hands of Barnabas and Saul. This would be Saul’s benevolent ministry…for years to come, he remembered the poor (Galatians 2:10).

Psalm 135:1-21

Hallelujah means “Praise the LORD,” and that is the thrust of this Psalm. Praise Him and sing to Him. When we gather together assembled as a congregation come ready to worship – for He is good!

We have reason to praise.

We’ve been chosen by God, we’re His special treasure (Matthew 13:44) – created and redeemed – those are some of the reasons the Psalmist calls us to praise the LORD.

Creation, Redemption, and then there’s Provision. He’s taken care of me all my life. All this has come from the hand of the LORD Himself. Unlike the statues and wanna-be gods that the world puts their trust in and prays to, our God is the living God, who speaks, and sees, and hears.

Bless the LORD – Israel, Aaron (the high priest), Levi, and all who fear Him (Gentiles). All of God’s people have ample reaons to praise.

I believe this Psalm emphasizes that part of our lives where we SING praises to God. May we all cultivate that vital part of the celebration of salvation.

Proverbs 17:12-13

V. 12 – Mama bears will do anything to protect their cubs, they’ll fight furiously against male bears, or human beings (their worst enemies) if necessary.

But, it’s better to meet that mama bear, than it is certain fools. At least a mama bear has reason to fight – there’s a purpose and therefore a limit, fighting for their family and nothing more. But often times the fool with a knife, or a gun, is random, violent, and murders for no reason at all.

V. 13 – They did it to Jeremiah (Jeremiah 18:20)…and the nation was taken away to Babylon. They did it to Jesus…and 70 years later Titus sacked Jerusalem, over a million Jews died. It doesn’t mean it’s unforgivable, but it is very, very dangerous.

We’re not to reward evil for good; we’re not even to reward evil for evil, we’re actually called to bless those who curse us

Matthew 5:44 (NKJV) “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.”

1 Peter 3:9 (NKJV) “…not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.”

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.

June 16, 2021

1 Kings 15:25–17:24

In this brief section we read of six evil kings in Israel and one good king in Judah. 

1. Nadab, the son of Jeroboam reigned (2 years)

2. Baasha, conspired against Nadab and reigned (24 years)

1 Kings 15:28–29 (NKJV) “Baasha killed him in the third year of Asa king of Judah, and reigned in his place. 29 And it was so, when he became king, that he killed all the house of Jeroboam. He did not leave to Jeroboam anyone that breathed, until he had destroyed him, according to the word of the LORD which He had spoken by His servant Ahijah the Shilonite.”

3. Elah, the son of Baasha reigned (2 years)

4. Zimri, the servant of Elah conspired against Elah and killed him and reigned (briefly – 7 days – but then committed suicide by burning the house down on himself).

5. Omri, the commander of the army conspired against Zimri and reigned (12 years)

1 Kings 16:25 (NKJV) “Omri did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and did worse than all who were before him.”

6. Ahab, the son of Omri reigned (22 years) and things just continue to get worse.

1 Kings 16:30–33 (NKJV) “Now Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD, more than all who were before him. 31 And it came to pass, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took as wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians; and he went and served Baal and worshiped him. 32 Then he set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. 33 And Ahab made a wooden image. Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him.”

1 Kings 16:34 is a fulfillment of Joshua 6:26 spoken 500 years earlier.

We will be reading a lot about King Ahab, Jezebel, and Elijah. A spiritual war is made public in 1 Kings 17:

1 Kings 17:1 (NKJV) “And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.”

Elijah knew the Word, that the LORD promised to shut the heavens if His people worshipped other gods (Deuteronomy 11:16-17) so he simply prayed Bible.  We can do the same, and if God wills, He can open and shut the heavens. We may look at Elijah and think he was some sort of superman, but he was just like us. James teaches the church that we can all have a ministry like Elijah – the key is prayer.

James 5:17–18 (NKJV) “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.”

Who is this guy who just bursts onto the scene, storms into the palace, declares war, and shuts the heavens on Israel? He’s a man who has spent some serious time in prayer. Elijah is one of my favorite characters in the Bible. God feeds him with ravens (how cool is that?). God leads him every step of the way, eventually to a Gentile widow and they’re a mutual help to each other. The LORD leads Elijah to the widow in Zarephath. When Elijah asks her for some food, a little pancake, she tells him that she only has enough for her son and her. It’s the last of the oil and flour, they’re about to eat it and get ready to die (the drought is severe). Elijah responds:

1 Kings 17:13 (NKJV) “And Elijah said to her, ‘Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son.

Was Elijah being selfish? Why did he ask her to make him a small cake first, bring it to him, and THEN make some for themselves?

Pastor Chuck Smith said, “…he was asking her to give all she had to the Lord. We see this principle in action: If you put God first, He’ll take care of the rest. Give God your first fruits; then watch Him miraculously provide.”

Woven in is a principle deeper than tithing, it’s truly, totally, trusting God to provide. Give to God what belongs to God and watch God work! I wonder if this story was an inspiration to another widow we read about later in the Bible who gave her whole livelihood to God (Mark 12:41-44).

As we read through the Scriptures we see certain seasons of when there were “more” miracles: 

1. At the Exodus. 

2. During the time of Elijah and Elisha.

3. When Jesus came. 

4. At the establishment of the church. 

Here we see Elijah even raise the dead (1 Kings 17:21-24).

Acts 10:24-48

Peter was open and moved by the Spirit – it was radical for a Jewish man to enter the home of a Gentile (non Jew).  

Cornelius was sincere in his faith but needed more truth and guidance – the fact that he worshipped Peter upon his entrance shows us this, but also shows us that even the best of men are men at best. Peter lifted him up and told him not to do that, “I myself am also a man,” he said. God was making things clear.

Acts 10:28 (NKJV) “Then he said to them, ‘You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.’”

Peter’s taking it all in, one step at a time. He’s learning that there is no partiality with God, that the Gentiles are not to be called or thought of as unclean.

Peter then asks Cornelius why he was summoned. Cornelius tells him the story and then ends with every preacher’s dream come true, “When he comes he will speak to you,” in other words, they were all there ready to listen to whatever Peter had to say, open ears, and open hearts.

Peter goes on to preach Jesus to them; peace through Jesus, the power of Jesus who did good and healed all who were oppressed by the Devil. Crucified on a tree (cross) but raised the third day, witnessed by many, openly, they were even eating and drinking with Him after He rose from the dead; Jesus…ordained to be Judge.

Acts 10:43 (NKJV) “To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”

And WHILE Peter was speaking, they believed, they were saved in that instant, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in tongues. Wow!

God used Peter to open the door to the Gentiles. 

That’s all it takes is faith in Jesus’ name to be forgiven. They believed, they were saved, and the tongues were a sign for everyone to see and hear – it was true conversion. They didn’t have to go forward to the altar, say a certain prayer, or anything else, they were instantly saved, sealed, and delivered by the Spirit of God – by faith in Christ, they believed and received the Gospel. That doesn’t mean altar calls are wrong in any way, it’s just important to know the simplicity and power of the Gospel.

I like what Warren Wiersbe said, “Peter did not get to finish his sermon. When he said, “Whosoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43), they believed and were saved. What a great way to stop a sermon!”

The Jews were astonished and rightly so! It’s ALWAYS  blessing to see someone saved, filled with the Holy Spirit, and what a joy to see God correct the horrible misconception of partiality.

Acts 10:34 (NKJV) “Then Peter opened his mouth and said: ‘In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality.’”

And right there and then, they were baptized.

O Lord, I thank You that You love everyone, even me. I still remember the day – the moment I was saved, just like these Gentiles. May I live a life of gratitude and freedom to obey You, enjoy You, and share Your message of life and love, wherever You may send me.

Psalm 134:1-3

This is the final Psalm of Ascents (pilgrim Psalm).

Here we have the pilgrim encourage the priests and Levites, who kept watch at the Temple, to bless the LORD, to lift their hands to God.

As we lift our hands to the Lord we worship.

As we lift our hands to the Lord we surrender.

As we lift our hands to the Lord, we’re like children ready to receive from our Father, which is the final prayer of the pilgrim for the priests.

Psalm 134:3 (NKJV) “The LORD who made heaven and earth bless you from Zion!”

Proverbs 17:9-11

V. 9 – We have a visual of this in: 

Genesis 9:23 (NKJV) But Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness.

1 Corinthians 13:4 also shares the positive portion of this passage, “Love thinks no evil…” meaning it keeps no record of wrongs.

On the flip side, how ugly it is when the worst of words separate the best of friends – be careful THINK before you speak and “repeat a matter.”

V. 10 – When we’re wise, the rebuke does us good, it’s effective, productive, helpful, life-changing.

But to the fool, 100 blows (think of that) are ineffective to truly change him, or help him. The painful discipline is ignored, he hardens his heart, he loves his sin, clings to his pride, and remains a fool.

V. 11 – It’s easier to understand in the New Living Translation. 

Proverbs 17:11 (NLT) “Evil people are eager for rebellion, but they will be severely punished.”

Some are proud of the fact that they go against the flow of the church or the Bible – eagerly, that they’re captains of their own ship. God allows people the freedom to choose hell, to rebel, sin and rebellion, but He also warns, the day will come when they will be severely punished.

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.

June 15, 2021

1 Kings 14:1–15:24

King Jeroboam’s son, Abijah, was severely ill, so he asked his wife to disguise herself and travel to Shiloh, where the prophet Ahijah was, to find out the fate of their child (he may have even hoped that he’d pray for their son). Ahijah was the prophet who had predicted to Jeroboam that one day he would be the king of Israel (a prophecy that came true – 1 Kings 11:29-31). Jeroboam was acutely aware that the religion he had established in Israel was fake and fabricated, so in order to genuinely hear from God, he must send his wife somewhere else.

When Jeroboam’s wife arrives, although Ahijah’s eyes are nearly blind, his spiritual senses are keen – he not only knows who it is, but he announces that he has been sent to her…with bad news. 

The child would die upon her return home, when she stepped into the city, but that was only the beginning. The house of Jeroboam (his male descendants) would be extinguished, slaughtered as judgment for the sins of this king who had been given such an amazing privilege and opportunity. In establishing a new religion he was the root cause for the sin of the nation and the eventual carrying away of Israel into captivity by the Assyrians. As to Jeroboam’s descendants, the dogs would eat the dead bodies in the city and the birds would eat the dead bodies in the field, none would get a proper burial except this child – for God saw good in him.

Jeroboam blew it, big-time! God had given him such a wonderful promise woven within the prophecy – the prophet Ahijah made it clear:

1 Kings 11:38 (NKJV) “Then it shall be, if you heed all that I command you, walk in My ways, and do what is right in My sight, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as My servant David did, then I will be with you and build for you an enduring house, as I built for David, and will give Israel to you.”

But Jeroboam valued the kingdom more than the King of kings. He was not loyal in the least and forfeited his opportunity. God help us not miss out on the life He has for us.

While Jeroboam was reigning in the Northern Kingdom, Rehoboam was reigning in the Southern Kingdom. This son of Solomon also did evil in the land worshipping idols and setting up altars wherever he could. We even read of “perverted persons” in the land at that time.

The Bible Knowledge Commentary, “The high hills and spreading trees were favorite locations for these cultic shrines. Male shrine prostitutes (sodomites) were used in pagan worship. The same practices that moved God to purge the land of the moral cancer that plagued it in Joshua’s day were those to which the Israelites returned under Rehoboam’s leadership.” 

It’s tragic to read of the swift fall of God’s people. The gold shields that Solomon had made were taken away by the Egyptians. King Rehoboam replaced them with bronze. We not only see the decline economically, but also spiritually – in the Bible gold symbolized deity while bronze symbolized judgment.

Rehoboam reigned for 17 years and was followed by his son Abijam’s brief stint as king (3 years) – he also walked in the sins of his father. We’re not told how he died, but his son Asa reigned after him. By God’s grace Asa was a good king in Judah who reigned for 41 years (longer than Saul, David, or Solomon).

1 Kings 15:11–12 (NKJV) “Asa did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, as did his father David. 12 And he banished the perverted persons from the land, and removed all the idols that his fathers had made.”

One of the things I’ve learned in life is all that matters is that we strive to do what is right “in the eyes of the LORD.” The standards of the world and the applause of any man are not to be our goals – God is our goal – His approval is all that matters!

Asa banished the perverted people, he even demoted his grandmother, for she had made an obscene image of Asherah – Asa’s heart was loyal to the LORD…all of his days.

We’ll see when we study Chronicles that Asa wasn’t a perfect king, but his prayer life and trust in the Lord, especially in the early years, are a blessing to read of.

As we study the kings of Israel and Judah we will see that there were no good kings in the Norther Kingdom of Israel (not one). But there were some good king in the Southern Kingdom of Judah, and Jehoshophat, the son of Asa, was another one of those “good kings.”

Acts 10:1-23

In Acts 10, God not only obliterates Jewish misconceptions regarding the Gentiles, He also takes away the dietary laws – from now on it would be okay to eat non-kosher food. Later Paul would write in: 

1 Timothy 4:4 (NKJV) “For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving.”

God was doing new things and Peter struggled with it initially, “Not so, Lord…” (Acts 10:14) would be considered an oxymoron. “You can say ‘Lord,’ and you can say ‘Not so,’ but you cannot say, ‘Not so, Lord.’” – W. Graham Scroggie

It’s significant to me the way both of these men were prayer warriors. Peter was praying at noon, and Cornelius was praying till 3PM. It also appears that both of them were men who fasted. Cornelius was a devout man, who feared God and whose generous alms had risen as a “memorial before God.” The Lord spoke to Cornelius in Caesarea and to Peter in Joppa leading them together so that Peter could share the Gospel with him and his family. 

Pastor Chuck comments, “It’s interesting to me how God brings His purposes to pass. On one end, He was working in the heart of Cornelius; on the other end, He was working in the heart of Peter. God works on both ends.”

This breakthrough to the Gentiles would be huge, epic. We’ll see that in the next two chapters. Make no mistake about it, God wants the whole world to be saved (John 3:16), all men and women (1 Timothy 2:4), He is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9). Peter would be used by God to open the door to the Gentiles, and then we’ll see Paul and others will be used to God to open the floodgates.

Psalm 133:1-3

Usually when we consider the concept of unity, we speak of strength. If I were to bind together 20 twigs, what’s weak individually is then strong corporately. 

But this Psalm speaks not necessarily of strength, but of the blessing of unity, even the fact that it’s  “pleasant” for brethren to dwell together in unity. Pleasant is defined as, “Giving the sense of happy satisfaction or enjoyment.” When we’re not in it for ourselves, there’s no “I” in team, when we love one another, esteem others better than ourselves, when we know the flow of a family, the organization, or even a church, it’s an atmosphere of joy…it’s pleasant.

David describes this unity as poured out oil on Aaron the priest, and dew descending on Mount Hermon. Clearly these are indications of blessings from above. We look to God as the source of unity and we know our God blesses unity.

May we all have that heart to be one, especially among the brethren (the church) (John 17:11, 21-22).

Proverbs 17:7-8

V. 7 – Excellent speech may refer to eloquent words, but it primarily refers to true words, spoken according to God’s will, and in line with God’s Word (a fool wouldn’t talk like that.)

Lies are not fitting for a prince, or leader.

V. 8 – The NIV calls this precious stone “a bribe.” Of course the Bible does not condone bribery, but there may be something said about prosperity to those who learn to be givers – generous people.

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.

June 14, 2021

1 Kings 12:20–13:34

It’s tragic to see the division in the nation of Israel, but that’s what sin does, it divides.  Satan’s plan is to divide and conquer. He knows we’re weaker when we lose our oneness (Mark 3:24). Much of this division is due to the sins of Solomon. 

Jeroboam is crowned the ruler of the Northern Kingdom – Israel, while Rehoboam is crowned the ruler of the Southern Kingdom – Judah, ultimately consisting of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin.

In the get-go Rehoboam wants to go to war. He musters up an army of 180,000 chosen warriors, but the Lord sends a godly man his way commanding him not to do this: We read in:

1 Kings 12:24 (NKJV) “Thus says the LORD: ‘You shall not go up nor fight against your brethren the children of Israel. Let every man return to his house, for this thing is from Me.’ Therefore they obeyed the word of the LORD, and turned back, according to the word of the LORD.”

Solomon’s sin led to God’s discipline, something Rehoboam had to accept.

Jeroboam’s wheels immediately begin to turn. He knows the people will travel south to Jerusalem to sacrifice at the Temple, and he’s aware of the fact that this might turn their hearts back to Rehoboam. So what does he do? He invents his own religion. He holds on to God’s covenant name, but he fashions golden calves as idols, sets up a couple of fancy altars, ordains his own priests, and devises in his own heart, certain feast days (religious holidays). As we read through the Kings and Chronicles we will find that the Northern Kingdom never left the worship of these calves. I have actually traveled to Israel and I’ve seen the northern altar – you can still sense the tragic darkness when you’re there.

This leads us to the bizarre story of the man of God who traveled from Judah to Bethel to pronounce judgment upon this altar, that one day a child by the name of Josiah, a descendant of David, would sacrifice pagan priests upon this altar (it would be God’s judgment upon this religion – fulfilled 290 years later in 2 Kings 23:15-16).

The man of God also mentioned a sign to prove this prophesy would certainly come to pass – the altar would split and the ashes would pour out. When King Jeroboam heard the prophesy, he stretched his hand against the man of God, his hand went limp, and the altar was split. Jeroboam asked the prophet to pray for him – which he did, and he was immediately healed. You would think that this would bring Jeroboam to repentance, but it didn’t. Hardness of heart, and the dabbling with the demonic makes a man religiously unreasonable, even to something so obvious to others.

What happens next to the man of God is a heavy lesson for us all. May we never believe or follow anything ANYONE else may tell us (even if it’s an old prophet) if what they tell us contradicts the Word of God. Because he believed the old prophet over God’s Word, the man of God, who had been used by God in such a miraculous way, was killed by a lion (symbolic of Satan – 1 Peter 5:8).

Acts 9:26-43

Can you imagine the challenge it must have been for the church in Jerusalem to forgive and trust Saul? He had arrested Christians; some had been put to death, and now, all of a sudden he’s on their team? It was hard for them initially, but Barnabas stepped in and vouched for Saul. This definitely lines up with the character of Barnabas, the name given to him means, “Son of Encouragement.” What a wonderful ministry!

Wherever Saul went he was “too hot to handle,”  and the Hellenists tried to kill him. So the church sends Saul home to Tarsus, for his own protection, but God would be preparing him for the office of an Apostle.

Acts 9:31 (NKJV) “Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.”

As the church spreads geographically, and multiplies numerically, they’re also growing spiritually. Peace, edification, the fear of the Lord, the comfort of the Holy Spirit – all beautiful benefits of being a part of the Body of Christ.

God uses Peter, not only to heal a lame man, but to raise a dear sister from the dead. Wow! As a result of these miracles people turned to the Lord (Acts 9:35) and “many believed on the Lord” (Acts 9:42).

O Father, I see what happens when the Spirit uses the Scriptures and Saints who are surrendered – signs will follow. Please Lord, reignite the book of Acts in our hearts today…please Lord.

Psalm 132:1-18

What an amazing Psalm, not just about the Temple, David wanted to build a house for God, but the house that God built for David. There was this promise to David regarding his descendants, culminating in the Messiah, who would one day, rule from Jerusalem – forever!

Zion eventually became another name for heaven…and this Psalm definitely has heavenly hues.

There in heaven will be the “temple” of God, the tabernacle of God; there in heaven will be the throne of God, the saints of God, the bread of God, the priests of God – clothed with salvation, “…and her saints shall shout aloud for joy.” (can you imagine the joy in heaven?)

Jesus, the Anointed One will have the “horn” of all power. His enemies will be judged – and His crown will flourish, forever and ever.

Proverbs 17:6

I’m not there yet, but I know – – I’ve heard the absolute blessing of being a grandparent, of having grandchildren. I spoke to one couple yesterday who has been married close to 62 years, they have 18 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren. Truly they’ve been “crowned” by God.

And there should be mutual appreciation – in both directions; to have grandchildren is glorious, and to have your parents or grandparents, is glorious as well!

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.

June 13, 2021

1 Kings 11:1–12:19

It’s heartbreaking to see the way Solomon did not remain loyal to the LORD; to see the devastation of sin to him, his family, and the entire nation of Israel.

God had clearly warned Solomon not to marry pagan women – they would turn his heart away from the LORD. But Solomon not only married them, we read in:

1 Kings 11:2b (NKJV) “Solomon clung to these in love.”

We all know crazy things we do for “love.” He had 700 wives, princesses, and 300 concubines. Such a tally took its toll. We read next:

1 Kings 11:4 (NKJV) “For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David.”

It’s hard to imagine, but Solomon began to serve other gods, Ashtoreth, Milcom, Chemosh, he accommodated all his wives who burned incense to other gods.

Solomon no doubt justified his behavior, for this is what kings did in those days, it was diplomatic, it was the expected practice of the world, it was politically correct, and then to add to that, they say it’s every man’s battle (and I believe it). But it doesn’t matter what the pressure may be from the outside or the inside, Solomon should have known better. God had shown Himself to Solomon in so many way, even appearing to him twice. Solomon had the Word of God to kings in:

Deuteronomy 17:17a (NKJV) “Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away…”

We have the same principle taught to us in 2 Corinthians 6:14, believers are not to marry non-believers…but so many do not listen to the Lord, and they pay a heavy price.

God became angry with Solomon (1 Kings 11:9) and raised up adversaries against him. A prophet named Ahijah even prophesied that one of those adversaries would be given 10 tribes of Israel, and the nation would be divided. But none of it seemed to bring Solomon back to where he’d once been. God, in His mercy, and because of His covenant with David, allowed Judah to be given to David’s descendants, but what a tragic story in the end.

I pray that you and I would stay on track.

When Solomon died, the leaders of the nation gathered together at Shechem to make Solomon’s son Rehoboam, king, but they had a question for him.

1 Kings 12:4 (NKJV) “Your father made our yoke heavy; now therefore, lighten the burdensome service of your father, and his heavy yoke which he put on us, and we will serve you.”

Rehoboam asked for 3 days to think it over, to consult his advisors. The elder (and wiser) advisor gave him good counsel. 

1 Kings 12:7 (NKJV) “And they spoke to him, saying, ‘If you will be a servant to these people today, and serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever.’”

But Rehoboam didn’t heed their advice. He listened to the younger guys who told him he’d better off not giving in to their pressure, to take the bull by the horns, to hold his ground, to be a tough king, a resilient leader – he wasn’t going to let them push him around…and in doing so, he lost 83% of the kingdom – overnight.

Rehoboam missed an opportunity of a lifetime, but it was all part and portion of Solomon’s sin, “…for the turn of events was from the LORD.”

Such a tragedy – and the kingdom was divided!

About a thousand years later, Jesus Christ would tell His Apostles the godly leaders are servant-leaders…it’s too bad Rehoboam didn’t know that (Mark 10:42-45).

Acts 9:1-25

What an epic chapter, beginning with the conversion and commission of Saul, who would later become Paul, an Apostle of Jesus Christ. As he’s on his way to arrest Christians in Damascus, Saul is the one who gets arrested by Christ. How merciful God is, goading him, calling him, even asking him, “Why” do you do the things you do? (that’s a whole other conversation; why do people do what they do – the drugs, the alcohol, the violence – usually it’s because there’s tons of pain inside). “Why are you persecuting Me?” When people come against Christians, they’re coming against Christ!

But there on the dirt road to Damascus, a terrible terrorist is graciously saved. Jesus appears to Saul, He’s brighter than the sun at noonday. When Saul asks that question, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” he speaks the words of a saved man. Have you asked the Lord that question lately?

Ananias is then commissioned to pray for Saul to receive his sight, and after a slight (yet understandable) resistance, he lays hands on Saul, even calling him “brother” (when we become Christians our standing changes instantly – and our family grows). Saul was a chosen vessel, to bear the Name of Jesus, and hence to suffer tremendously. This is the glory and expectation of an effective ministry! 

Acts 9:15-16 (NKJV) “But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.’”

Saul preached Jesus immediately, but then learned more about Jesus earnestly, by spending 3 years in Arabia with just the Spirit and Word of God (Galatians 1:16-18 should be inserted right around Acts 9:21-22). We read of Saul’s impact:

Acts 9:22 (NLT) “Saul’s preaching became more and more powerful, and the Jews in Damascus couldn’t refute his proofs that Jesus was indeed the Messiah.”

Now the Jews are after Saul, the tables have completely turned. He escaped from Damascus, by being let down in a basket from the city wall. But his ministry will eventually be unstoppable.

Psalm 131:1-3

A short but beautiful Psalm about growing up and living a simple life of trust in God.

There will be MANY things in life that we will not be able to understand (too profound for us). But our peace is not planted or rooted there! Christians actually possess a peace that PASSES understanding and it’s a great guard for us.

Philippians 4:7 (NKJV) “and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Whenever we come across things that we don’t understand, we fall back on what we do understand – that God loves us, and has our best and ultimate interests in mind. When we grow as Christians and move on from milk to meat, from being bottle-fed to studying God’s Word for ourselves, we learn to live on promises – not explanations.

This type of trust and Spiritual weaning is good for a nation (Israel) and it’s good for individuals, both now and forever more.

Proverbs 17:4-5

V. 4 – The is a Proverb that speaks not to the talker (primarily) but to the listener.

This is a little different than most of the other Proverbs that warn about terrible tongues, here we have the warning to evil ears.

Don’t give heed (believe) everything you hear – as a matter of fact, don’t even listen to lies or carnal conversations.

But some people like that kinda stuff – and listen anyhow, they’re identified as evildoers and even liars (they’ll be sure to pass it on)

V. 5 – People quickly forget that all men, including the poorest of the poor, are infinitely valuable to God, because they’re loved by Him and made in His image. The homeless is not any less a person.

As we connect the two sections of this passage, there may be some who celebrate the misfortune of the poor, or the tragedy or calamity of any. God will punish that guy or gal who is glad when others are sad.

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.