Saturday, July 28, 2012

Obadiah; Psalms 82 & 83: What We Give is What We Get

Obadiah 1:15
Amplified Bible (AMP)

For the day of the Lord is near upon all the nations. As you have done, it shall be done to you; your dealings will return upon your own head.

God, through Obadiah, was specifically speaking to the nation of Edom in the verse above.  There are other examples in the Scripture which remind us of this spiritual law.  What we do to others eventually comes back to us.

Matthew 5:7
Amplified Bible (AMP)

Blessed (happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous—with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy!

"The word 'merciful,' according to Thayer is defined as: 'good will towards the miserable and afflicted, joined with a desire to relieve them.' It not only means to feels deeply but is also a word of action. It is to recognize a need and then do something about it." 

If we give mercy, we get mercy!

Matthew 7:1-2
Amplified Bible (AMP)

Do not judge and criticize and condemn others, so that you may not be judged and criticized and condemned yourselves.

For just as you judge and criticize and condemn others, you will be judged and criticized and condemned, and in accordance with the measure you [use to] deal out to others, it will be dealt out again to you.

The word krino is the word used for judge in the above verses.  Krino, means to separate, critic, criticize, criticism, discriminate.  

Discerning the difference between good and evil is part of our mandate as Christians.  We desire to be pleasing to the Lord through our actions, therefore, we don't want to participate in anything of which He would disapprove.  This kind of judgement is healthy.

*The kind of judgement mentioned in the verses above place the "judge" over the one being judged as though the judge is better than or superior to the one being judged.  The difference is the heart motive and attitude.   

The former motive is bringing the person into knowledge of Truth because of love, while the latter exudes pride and a love lack.

*If we judge, we will be judged!

Edom committed violence against Jacob (Israel/Judah) and stole from them.  The book of Obadiah is proclaiming to the nation of Edom, "What you give, is what you get!"

Remembering the rule which should guide our lives, we help us not to be judgmental.

Luke 6:31
Amplified Bible (AMP)

And as you would like and desire that men would do to you, do exactly so to them.

Holy Spirit, empower us to give, give, give to others out of an overflow of Your love.  Because we know we will get it back from You!  In Jesus name, AMEN!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Risk It in the Name of Love

Dear Blogging Friends and Family,

Just a note of update from my oncologist check up last week.  All is well!  All of my lab results fell within the normal range.  My physical exam was fantastic as well.  My oncologist is putting the finishing touches on his new book, which addresses lifestyle as important preventative and healing therapy for cancer.  He said, "We need to eat like Adam and Eve."  :)

The high point of my visit was a dear lady in the waiting area who Holy Spirit "highlighted" to me.  I felt drawn to her, but didn't think I'd have the opportunity to speak with her as she and her husband left the office just before me.  I silently prayed blessing on her while finishing my paperwork.  I left the office making my way to the elevator where, wouldn't you know it, stood the woman and her husband waiting.  Getting close to her, I saw the familiar bump of a JP drain under her shirt.  As we made our way onto the elevator, I decided to risk it.  I broke elevator etiquette by declaring I had a bilateral mastectomy last year.  The woman's eyes opened wide as she declared she had just undergone a unilateral mastectomy.  I was able to share some of the awesome interventions of God during my experience last year.  I thought this woman would start crying when I offered to pray for her right there on the elevator.  Her eyes opened wide as she accepted my offer.  We hugged each other tightly as I declared the power of Jesus over cancer.  We were on the elevator so long that it alarmed twice...OOPS! 

I tell you all this because you just never know how a "simple prayer" rooted in love will positively affect and bless other people.  I encourage all of you to risk it in the name of love. 
Thank you all again for all of the support you have offered since my diagnosis day December 27, 2010.  You all can share as Victorious Overcomers of cancer because when one of us wins, all of us share in the spoils of that victory!!!

Words cannot express my gratitude and love for ALL of you!

Always with love...
Beautiful Grace

2 Chronicles 19-23: Battle Stance

2 Chronicles 20:2-3
Amplified Bible (AMP)

It was told Jehoshaphat, A great multitude has come against you from beyond the [Dead] Sea, from Edom; and behold they are in Hazazon-tamar, which is En-gedi.

Then Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself [determinedly, as his vital need] to seek the Lord; he proclaimed a fast in all Judah.

And Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord; even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord [yearning for Him with all their desire].

I like Jehoshaphat! A great multitude is coming against Judah to annihilate it. No wonder King Jehoshaphat initially was frightened. BUT Jehoshaphat did not allow this fear to prevent him from seeking the Lord. The Amplified Bible says is well, "Then Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself [determinedly, as his vital need] to seek the Lord..."

The Free Dictionary defines vital as "necessary to the continuation of life; life-sustaining:  a vital organ; vital nutrients."

Jehoshaphat knew that the continuation of life was dependent upon the intervention of the Lord.  The release of His strength was vital to their survival!  As always, the Lord shows Himself mighty and strong, but first He takes the time to offer encouragement to the king and Judah.

2 Chronicles 20:15
Amplified Bible (AMP)

He said, Hearken, all Judah, you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you King Jehoshaphat. The Lord says this to you: Be not afraid or dismayed at this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s.

My favorite part is the people's response to God's encouragement...WORSHIP!

2 Chronicles 20:21-22
Amplified Bible (AMP)

When he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers to sing to the Lord and praise Him in their holy [priestly] garments as they went out before the army, saying, Give thanks to the Lord, for His mercy and loving-kindness endure forever!

And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir who had come against Judah, and they were [self-] slaughtered;

Judah's battle stance was not cringing in fear while hiding away in a dark corner.  Judah sang and praised God giving Him thanks for His mercy and love!  They did this in front of the armed soldiers!  Wow, I'll bet that was one awesome worship service!

What does this historical story teach us today about how to face a battle of overwhelming proportions?

I believe our most effective battle stance is worship!  Worship takes the focus off the things (battles) of this world and onto the only One worthy.  Worship releases faith into the atmosphere, and faith pleases God!   If my time on earth is finished, then my heart's desire is to enter eternity singing and dancing.  If my days on earth have not yet been completed, then my worship will release me from fear.  Worship declares, "I trust God, no matter what enemy attacks." 

God will act on my behalf always! 

God will act on your behalf always!

Lord, thank You for allowing us to worship You in war and in peace!  It is our great honor to release our whole selves to Your keeping.  All for the glory of Jesus, AMEN!!!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

1 Kings 22; 2 Chronicles 18: A Lying Spirit

King Ahab wanted things his own way as was  identified in yesterday's post "1 Kings 20 & 21: Subtle and Blatant Evil."
He surrounded himself with "yes men," those prophets who would tell him only what he wanted to hear.  

1 Kings 22:13
Amplified Bible (AMP)

The messenger who went to call Micaiah said to him, Behold now, the prophets unanimously declare good to the king. Let your answer, I pray you, be like theirs, and say what is good.

Micaiah was hated by Ahab, because he spoke the truth as he heard it from God and that truth often stepped on Ahab's kingly toes.  Initially, Micaiah prophesied prosperity in battle, but Ahab sensed he wasn't being his normal forthright self.

1 Kings 22:15-16
Amplified Bible (AMP)

So he came to the king. King [Ahab] said, Micaiah, shall we go against Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall we hold back? And he answered, Go and prosper, for the Lord will deliver it into the king’s hand.

And the king said to him, How many times must I charge you to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord?

Micaiah then spoke God's plan.

1 Kings 22:19-23
Amplified Bible (AMP)

And Micaiah said, Hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him on His right hand and on His left.

And the Lord said, Who will entice Ahab to go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead? One said this way, another said that way.

Then there came forth a spirit [of whom I am about to tell] and stood before the Lord and said, I will entice him.

The Lord said to him, By what means? And he said, I will go forth and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets. [The Lord] said, You shall entice him and succeed also. Go forth and do it.

So the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouths of all these prophets; and the Lord has spoken evil concerning you.

Ahab desired a lie more than the truth of God's word, so that is just what God gave him, a lying spirit in the mouths of men who were more interested in pleasing an earthly king, than an Eternal One.

These verses are sobering.

If we love the Truth, we will be saved, but if we love deceit than deception will be our ruler.

2 Thessalonians 2:10
Amplified Bible (AMP)

And by unlimited seduction to evil and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing (going to perdition) because they did not welcome the Truth but refused to love it that they might be saved.

But God's awesome promise to those who love the Truth is freedom!  God's Spirit is the Spirit of Truth!!!

John 8:31-32
Amplified Bible (AMP)

So Jesus said to those Jews who had believed in Him, If you abide in My word [hold fast to My teachings and live in accordance with them], you are truly My disciples.

And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.

Knowing that we cannot do anything apart from His empowerment, I ask now, Holy Spirit empower us (me) to love Truth above all else.  Cause us to know You Who is Truth and let that knowledge set us FREE!  In the great and awesome name of Jesus!  AMEN!!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

1 Kings 20 & 21: Subtle and Blatant Evil

I've been stuck on these passages for a few days, waiting for inspiration in writing.  This morning, I realize the short of it; King Ahab and Queen Jezebel were evil.

1 Kings 21:25
Amplified Bible (AMP)

25 For there was no one who sold himself to do evil in the sight of the Lord as did Ahab, incited by his wife Jezebel.

Anyone who got in the way of these two idolaters was eliminated.  Naboth, neighbor of Ahab, had a vineyard that Ahab coveted, but Naboth would not sell his family's inheritance.  Like a spoiled child, Ahab sulked and refused food, because he couldn't get what he wanted.  Jezebel sprang into action, commanding two men to falsely accuse poor Naboth of renouncing God.  Isn't that ironic?  Naboth was stoned, and Ahab seized the vineyard.

It makes me wonder what kinds of evil today attempt to steal our inheritance?  This evil may not be as blatant as what was described in the book of 1 Kings, but subtle evil can be even more dangerous.

It is extremely important to continually submit to the Holy Spirit, allowing Him to search our hearts and reveal any areas where subtle evil has infiltrated.  Jesus blood cleanses any defilement, and Holy Spirit ministers and empowers us to remain pure.

The ray of hope in these chapters is seen in 1 Kings 21:27-29.

When Ahab heard those words of Elijah, he tore his clothes, put sackcloth on his flesh, fasted, lay in sackcloth, and went quietly.

And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,

Do you see how Ahab humbles himself before Me? Because he humbles himself before Me, I will not bring the evil in his lifetime, but in his son’s day I will bring the evil upon his house.

No sin is too black for the blood of Jesus to wash whiter than snow!  No mistake too great for Jesus to redeem!

Holy Spirit, search us to the very depth of our beings.  If there is any wicked way in us reveal it and wash us in the the blood of Jesus.  Empower us to walk worthy of the name of Christ!  In Jesus' name, AMEN!!!

Friday, July 20, 2012

1 Kings 17-19: Calling a Past Sin to Rememberance

1 Kings 17:17-18
Amplified Bible (AMP)

17 After these things, the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became sick; and his sickness was so severe that there was no breath left in him.

18 And she said to Elijah, What have you against me, O man of God? *Have you come to me to call my sin to remembrance and to slay my son?

*emphasis mine

Today's reading reveals some of the powerfully dramatic exploits of the prophet, Elijah, but what I was drawn to was the woman's statement, 
"Have you come to me to call my sin to remembrance."

Apparently this woman believed that Elijah was casting up past sins and her evidence for that belief was a dead son.

But what does God's Word say about our past sins? 

Isaiah 1:18
Amplified Bible (AMP)

18 Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be like wool.

Psalm 103:11-12

11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great are His mercy and loving-kindness toward those who reverently and worshipfully fear Him.

12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.

Micah 7:19
Amplified Bible (AMP)

19 He will again have compassion on us; He will subdue and tread underfoot our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.

Jeremiah 31:34
Amplified Bible (AMP)

34 And they will no more teach each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, Know the Lord, for they will all know Me [recognize, understand, and be acquainted with Me], from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will [seriously] remember their sin no more.

Why would this grieving woman think that God, through Elijah, was accusing her of past, already forgiven sins?
Could it be that she had been taught previously that God holds a grudge against us for our sins? Or had she had experiences with people who held her past sins against her and assumed Elijah was doing the same thing?
My friends, please be very careful with your words.  God does not hold forgiven sins against us!
Consequences of sins we have committed may occur, but God does not cast up forgiven sins, and certainly does not condemn us.  The whole reason Jesus came to earth was to save us from our sins, not to torment us!
Holy Spirit, please empower us to forgive and forgive and forgive, not cast up past mistakes!  Casting up is not Your heart, and if it is not Your heart, then we don't want it.  In the merciful name of Jesus, AMEN!!!

For those of you who can't forgive themselves for past, already forgiven sins.  Please close your eyes, listen to this song and pray it over yourself.  Jesus forgives, end of story!

Monday, July 16, 2012

1 Kings 15:25-16:34; 2 Chronicles 17: A Cheered Heart With Courage

2 Chronicles 17:6a
Amplified Bible (AMP)

6 His 
[Jehoshaphat] heart was cheered and his courage was high in the ways of the Lord;... 

What do you think it means to have a cheered heart with courage high in the ways of the Lord?

It sounds wonderful, doesn't it?

How do we get cheered hearts with courage high in the ways of the Lord?

2 Chronicles 17:3-4
Amplified Bible (AMP)

3 The Lord was with Jehoshaphat because he walked in the first ways of his father [David]. He did not seek the Baals

4 But sought and yearned with all his desire for the Lord, the God of his father, and walked in His commandments and not after the ways of Israel.

2 Chronicles 17:6b
Amplified Bible (AMP)

...moreover, he took away the high places and the Asherim out of Judah.

  • Walk in the ways of David
David was known as a man after God's own heart.  He submitted his life to God and worshiped Him ignoring societal restraints.  David prayed, praised, sang, danced to and for God, and when he messed up, he asked for forgiveness and changed his ways.  David took his relationship with the Lord seriously, and so did Jehoshaphat.

  • No personal idolatry
Jehoshaphat understood that seeking after baals was wrong.  Although most of us have never bowed before an idol, how many times have we placed our trust in and sought after the things of this world before seeking after God.  This is idolatry in its subtle form.  We can't trust in our job to provide the money we need to live; we trust in God our Provider.  We can't trust in medicine to heal our disease; we trust in God our Healer who has blessed man with medical knowledge.  No possession can give us peace, only the One Who is Peace! 

  • Seek and yearn for the Lord with all our soul
To me that means keeping our hearts tuned into God.  Listening and desiring just a word from Him, stirs my affections from Him.  God is always encouraging in one way or another...through people, in nature, by circumstances, through dreams, etc.  Tuning into God, means we never tune Him out.

  • Walk out His commandments
OBEY, period!

  • Remove the idols from place of influence
Of course, most of us don't have the power of a king to single-handedly remove idolatry from our nation with one command, but we do have God's power in us to change the environment around us with each word and deed.  People do notice a life sold out to God and are convicted to change their lives, whether or not any words are exchanged.  

Am I there yet?  No, but I am walking in that direction with Jesus by my side.

Empower us to be pleasing all the days of our lives, Lord.  Thank You, Lord, for cheering hearts and giving courage in Your ways.  We appreciate all that You do for us.  All for the love of Jesus, AMEN!!!

Friday, July 13, 2012

1 Kings 15:1-24; 2 Chronicles 13-16: Mighty or Powerless...No Difference to God

2 Chronicles 14:9-12
Amplified Bible (AMP)

9 There came out against Judah Zerah the Ethiopian with a host of a million [that is, too many to be numbered] and 300 chariots, and came as far as Mareshah.

10 Then Asa went out against him, and they set up their lines of battle in the Valley of Zephathah at Mareshah.

11 Asa cried to the Lord his God, *O Lord, there is none besides You to help, and it makes no difference to You whether the one You help is mighty or powerless. Help us, O Lord our God! For we rely on You, and we go against this multitude in Your name. O Lord, You are our God; let no man prevail against You!

12 So the Lord smote the Ethiopians before Asa and Judah, and the Ethiopians fled.

*Emphasis mine.

King Asa was described in today's passages as "Yet Asa's heart was blameless with the Lord all his days." (1 Kings 15:14b)

Asa removed idol worship from Judah and commanded them to seek the Lord.  Asa knew that God alone is the Strong One.  The strength of man means nothing when God fights the battle!  

A person who grasps this concept is one who remains in peace during a difficult season.  There is nothing man can do in order to be victorious, except focus on Jesus.  I speak from personal experience in this.

For me, last year was filled with physical battles, but the Lord fought, and I remained in peace.  One of the best decisions I made during that time was to sleep with worship music pouring into my ears.  

Chris Tomlin's song, "Our God" was one of the songs that reminded of God's power to fight for me during that time!

Asa knew that man's strength did not win a battle.  Peace was the result of Asa decision to follow the Lord with His whole heart.  Because of Asa's resolve, Judah prospered in peace.

2 Chronicles 15:15
Amplified Bible (AMP)

15 And all Judah rejoiced at the oath, for they had sworn with all their heart and sought Him [yearning for Him] with their whole desire, and He was found by them. And the Lord gave them rest and peace round about.

The next time you face a battle remember to seek the Lord your whole heart.  Maybe even listen to worship music while you sleep.  :)

God, You are higher than any other.  You're Awesome and Powerful and the Giver of Peace.  Thank You for fighting our battles, while we remain at rest in You.  If there is some way for us to respond, then we trust You to make the direction clear.  All while we walk in Peace!  In the great name of Jesus!!! AMEN!!!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

2 Chronicles 10-12: Please Don't Fight These Hands That are Holding You

2 Chronicles 11:13-16
Amplified Bible (AMP)

13 And the priests and the Levites who were in all Israel came over to Rehoboam from wherever they lived.

14 For the Levites left their suburbs and their possessions and came to Judah and Jerusalem, *for Jeroboam and his sons had cast them out from executing the priest’s office to the Lord.

15 And he appointed his own priests for the high places and for the [idols of demon] he-goats, and calves he had made.

16 And after them out of all the tribes of Israel there came to Jerusalem those who set their hearts to seek and inquire of the Lord, the God of Israel, to sacrifice to the Lord, the God of their fathers.

*emphasis mine

So the divided Kingdom goes...

Jeroboam, who now reigned over 10 of the tribes of Israel, makes a serious error in judgement.  He decides to worship in the way that the surrounding countries worshiped.  Jeroboam and his sons were set in their decision, so set that they expelled God's priests executing their office.  Jeroboam wanted to do things his own way, the way his of flesh with no limits or boundaries.

Can this ancient story give us guidance today, thousands of years later?  Yes.

God sets limits and boundaries that our human flesh sometimes doesn't like.  He does this because He loves us and wants the best for us.  He doesn't want our immature decisions to cause a breech between us and Him.  

We have a choice.  

Do we submit ourselves to God's loving omniscience or do we cast out His messengers?  

Do we find "messengers" who tell us what our flesh wants to hear, not speak God's truth in love?

God reminded me about boundaries in a dream last night.  He told me in the dream how much He loves me and that a particular boundary He set up in my life is for my protection.  I will obey!  I love the way my Abba loves me!

Do you have a boundary, set by God?  Cling fast to Him realizing He loves you and only wants the best for you! 

Abba says, "Please don't fight these hands that are holding you.  My hands are holding you."

Saturday, July 7, 2012

1 Kings 12-14: Age and Experience Yields Wisdom

Rehoboam, son of Solomon, had an opportunity to bring healing and rest to his people.   Apparently, Solomon had placed a heavy yoke of hard service upon them, and the people wanted a reprieve from their forced labor.

Rehoboam consulted the old men who had advised his father, but instead of listening to men with experience and wisdom, he listened to his power hungry buddies.

1 Kings 12:6-8
Amplified Bible (AMP)

6 And King Rehoboam consulted with the old men who stood before Solomon his father while he yet lived and said, How do you advise me to answer this people?

7 And they said to him, If you will be a servant to this people today and serve them and answer them with good words, they will be your servants forever.

8 But he forsook the counsel the old men gave him and consulted the young men who grew up with him and stood before him.

1 Kings 12:14
Amplified Bible (AMP)

14 And spoke to them after the counsel of the young men, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke; he chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.

This acceptance of foolish consul caused ten tribes of Israel to break away from Rehoboam; his act initiated the divided kingdom of Israel.

Matthew 12:25
Amplified Bible (AMP)

25 And knowing their thoughts, He said to them, Any kingdom that is divided against itself is being brought to desolation and laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will last or continue to stand.

Like Rehoboam, our society generally does not value the wisdom that comes from age and experience. The thought being that most older individuals don't keep up with advances in technology, so they must not have anything to offer.  Or, they are so old-fashioned and set in their ways, they just don't understand.

Yet, the experience that comes from actually living a godly life can be a gold mine of wisdom for us to tap, if we recognize it.

Proverbs 16:31
Amplified Bible (AMP)

31 The *hoary head is a crown of beauty and glory if it is found in the way of righteousness (moral and spiritual rectitude in every area and relation).

The next time wise advice is needed look for a godly, older person and receive the wisdom that comes from living.

*gray or white hair

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Proverbs 30 & 31: The Proverbs 31 Woman Fantasy

Proverbs 31

Years ago, I allowed this list of traits characterizing the perfect, godly woman/wife in Proverbs 31 bring me into a sort of bondage.

The Proverbs 31 Woman as written seems perfect in every regard.  When measuring myself against her, I found only lack and imperfection.  My family is not clothed in scarlet, and I have certainly never produced coverlets, cushions, and rugs of tapestry!

I was understanding the passage literally, but rarely does the Bible speak only in literal terms.  Understanding the Proverbs 31 Woman spiritually brought freedom!  A godly woman doesn't need to sew in order to be a Proverbs 31 Woman.

With the help of Holy Spirit, I aspire to be like this woman, realizing that perfection itself in this life is unattainable.  However, excellence is my goal, not only as a wife, mother and woman, but as the beloved of Jesus.

Proverbs 31:18
Amplified Bible (AMP)

She tastes and sees that her gain from work [with and for God] is good; her lamp goes not out, but it burns on continually through the night [of trouble, privation, or sorrow, warning away fear, doubt, and distrust].

My lamp (devotion to Him) will never go out because its fuel is His Spirit!  When difficult seasons present themselves, I will turn to my Perfect God, Who releases His power through my imperfections and weaknesses.

I am a Proverbs 31 Woman in process...from glory to glory, I am changed!

2 Corinthians 3:18

And all of us, as with unveiled face, [because we] continued to behold [in the Word of God] as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor andfrom one degree of glory to another; [for this comes]from the Lord [Who is] the Spirit.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

1 Kings 10-11; 2 Chronicles 9: Defiant Love

1 Kings 11:1-4
Amplified Bible (AMP)

1 But King Solomon [defiantly] loved many foreign women—the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites.

2 They were of the very nations of whom the Lord said to the Israelites, You shall not mingle with them, neither shall they mingle with you, for surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods. Yet Solomon clung to these in love.

3 He had 700 wives, princesses, and 300 concubines, and his wives turned away his heart from God.

4 For when Solomon was old, his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not perfect (complete and whole) with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father.

Solomon knew the command of the Lord.  He was an intelligent man.  He knew the Lord's admonition not to entangle himself with foreign women, because these women did not submit themselves to God.  Instead they choose to worship false gods, and in the end, Solomon's heart was turned away from the One, True God to the many false and powerless facsimiles of Him.

"Yet Solomon clung to these in love."  

Let me submit to you that Solomon did not love these women ("700 wives, princesses, and 300 concubines") with the purest definition of love.  He clung to them out of lust, not love!  And he paid for his defiant love by losing the joy that was in his heart.  

Having just read the book of Ecclesiastes, it is apparent that Solomon had traded his personal and eternal relationship with God for earthly pleasures with women.  But in reading the end of Ecclesiastes, I have hope that Solomon realized his error and repented.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 & 14
Amplified Bible (AMP)

13 All has been heard; the end of the matter is: Fear God [revere and worship Him, knowing that He is] and keep His commandments, for this is the whole of man [the full, original purpose of his creation, the object of God’s providence, the root of character, the foundation of all happiness, the adjustment to all inharmonious circumstances and conditions under the sun] and the whole [duty] for every man.

14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it is good or evil.

After Solomon's death, God ended up taking 10 tribes away from Solomon's son, Rehoboam, as a punishment.  This caused hundreds of years of heartache for God's people.  

The lesson we can learn from Solomon's error is that the love of anything placed before God's will is idolatry!  God must be first in our life before anything or anyone else.  

If that earthly thing causes you (or me) to turn away from what God has commanded then it must be given up or put into its proper perspective.

Holy Spirit, please open our eyes to anything or anyone which we may place before You.  Give us Your wisdom to give it up or place it in perspective.  All for the love and devotion we have for You.  In the name of Jesus, AMEN!!!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Ecclesiastes 7-12: Live Out Loud, Reap the Harvest

Ecclesiastes 11:4-6
Amplified Bible (AMP)

4 He who observes the wind [and waits for all conditions to be favorable] will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap.

5 As you know not what is the way of the wind, or how the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a pregnant woman, even so you know not the work of God, Who does all.

6 In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening withhold not your hands, for you know not which shall prosper, whether this or that, or whether both alike will be good.

Our call includes sowing and reaping for Jesus. 

Symbolically, I understand sowing to represent witnessing, speaking of the wonderful, glorious God I serve to anyone with ears to hear.  Reaping actually speaks of leading souls into the kingdom.  

Often times, we excuse ourselves from this part of our God-given destinies saying things like...

  • I don't know enough about the Bible, about God's ways to speak of Him.
  • When I get my life together, then I will witness to others.
  • My life is filled with stress and heartache.  How can I possibly minister to others when my life is such a mess?
  • The wind is blowing; the storm clouds are gathering.  I can't sow and reap now, it wouldn't be effective.

"In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening withhold not your hands, for you know not which shall prosper, whether this or that, or whether both alike will be good."

By the light of day (in a favorable season) or in the evening (when life is so difficult, it's hard to see), we cannot neglect our call.  It's good to recognize our weaknesses.  We can't improve unless we first become aware of our need for improvement.  But we can't allow our imperfection in this moment to stop us from shining the love and light of Jesus to others.  

Living out loud is an awesome concept.  Allowing what Jesus has done and is doing in our lives to been known and seen by others is the truest form of witness.  Real life speaks louder than mere words.  

Going into all the world to make disciples doesn't need to be cumbersome.  All we need to do is allow His strength flow through our weaknesses in sincerity with love as the basis for what we do.  

We do not know whether or not what we do will prosper, but God does!

Friends, let's live out loud together no matter what storm is on the horizon or weakness with which we currently struggle.  God is perfecting us in Him and part of that process is obeying His call whether the atmosphere is stormy or if we feel competent!