Thursday, March 31: 2Chronicles 29- Keeping the word alive.

As I read about Hezekiah, I found myself wondering how did he know what the Lord required? How did he know what to do to live faithfully before the Lord? How did he know all this? For 16 years as king, his father had led Judah away from the Lord. It seems reasonable to assume that Ahaz lived a faithless life prior to his coronation as well.  That means that Ahaz’s influence on Hezekiah was negative and faithless from the day of birth. Again I ask, how did Hezekiah know how to live faithfully before the Lord?

As I watched Hezekiah reestablish God-honoring worship and devotion to the Lord, as I listened to the priests respond positively to his leadership, that question nagged in the back of my mind. As I concluded my reading and delighted in the joy expressed in verse 36: Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced at what God had brought about for his people, because it was done so quickly. I continued to wonder…

I found no specific answer in the text, yet somehow the Lord maintained His word within the community of Judah.

My thoughts bounded to my life and the thought came, how important it is that I (we) keep God’s Word alive for coming generations? The word of God is essential.  Without it we are left to our own thoughts.  Only God’s Word can give us God’s thoughts.

O, Lord,it is essential that I keep my nose in Your book, that I live it, grow my life around it, and make it the guiding influence for the living of my days. Lord, beyond that how can I keep the nose of succeeding generations in Your book?  It is good to talk about Your Book but it is essential we not only listen to what others say about You and Your Book but that we immerse ourselves in Your book.  Reading, listening, spending time in Your Book needs to be personal.

Help me, Jesus, to stay grounded in Your Word and to use my influence on others to encourage them to remain grounded in Your Word as well. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.



Wednesday, March 30: 2Chronicles 28

I found nothing particularly redeeming in this chapter. Ahaz was a despicable king in Judah.  Nothing remotely positive is mentioned about his sixteen year reign. Possibly the saddest comment comes late in his life, In his time of trouble King Ahaz became even more unfaithful to the LORD (22).

I found myself wondering about him and me.  The well worn phrase came multiple times into my thoughts, “But for the grace of God that could be me.”

I don’t know how or why God’s love fills my life and not the lives of others.  However, one thing I do know is that it is not because of anything good I have done or any inherent goodness with in me. It is pure mercy and pure gift… Thank You, Jesus…

Yes, thank You, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Thank You for saving me, redeeming me and revealing Yourself to me. Were it not for Your action in my life, I could be an Ahaz.  That is a frightening thought, but it is true. Thank You… Bless You. Amen.



Tuesday, March 29: 2Chronicles 27- What's your 'because'

I found myself asking the Lord what is it here in Jotham’s life that You would like to use to speak into my life? The chapter was short so I read it a second  time.  My eyes seemed to fix on verse 6 and particularly the word ‘because.’ Jotham grew powerful because…

Life offers us many possible ‘becauses.’ Bernie Madoff has been in the news a lot this year due to his ‘Ponsie Scheme’. He became rich and powerful because he cheated people. Muammar Kaddafi has been in the news as he fights to maintain control of Libya. Kaddafi remained in power all these years because he was ruthless. Others rise to power because they are brilliant or are innovators, like Gates and Jobs. There are hundreds of ‘becauses.’

Jotham grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before to the Lord his God (6).

Everyone of us has a because. We may not rise to world prominence but we build our lives on some foundation, our ‘because.’ God asks, “What’s your ‘because’? Upon what foundation are building your life?”

O, God, help me to emulate Jotham who walked steadfastly before You. Lord, ‘walked’ suggests that he lived in relationship with You and steadfastly tells me he kept at it.  He was diligent. Like Jotham, I pray that my life is spent connected to You and that I remain with You all the days of my life. Lord, I know I need the presence of the Holy Spirit and the strength to listen when He speaks.  Grant me this I pray, in Jesus name. Amen.


Monday, March 28: 2Chronicles 26- The problem of pride.


One of the Proverbs that I know by heart is Proverbs 16:18: Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. I guess I have committed it to memory because it offers such practical advice about life. King Uzziah, the subject of today’s chapter, is an example of the veracity of Proverbs 16:18.

Uzziah was faithful and God blessed him mightily, but as his power and influence grew, apparently so did his pride. Verse 16 puts it like this: But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the LORD his God, and entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense.

Pride is dangerous, when we (I) think too much of ourselves, we are setting ourselves up for a fall…

No surprise where the Lord took me today in my time with Him. He asked me to look inside and to assess and check my pride. It might be a good move for you, too.

Lord, thank You for the gifts and abilities and opportunities You have given to me. I pray that I hold all Your gifts loosely, remembering they are from You and not of me. I pray too, Lord, that I give life everything I have, serving You for Kingdom’s sake. Amen.


Saturday, March 26: 2Chronicles 25- Not wholeheartedly

My eyes lit on verse 2 as I began reading. As the events of the chapter unfolded, the words of verse 2 clung to my heart. Amaziah did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, but not wholeheartedly. It was those final two words the glued to my thoughts… not wholeheartedly.

Yes, they characterized Amaziah whose life seemed to be parceled into two distinct sections, faithful and unfaithful. Yet it wasn’t long before those two words, not wholeheartedly, hung like a mirror over my own life. I realized that they likely characterized my life as well. What about you?

I replaced Amaziah’s name with my own and stared at the new verse 2: Bill did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, but not wholeheartedly. Sadly they seemed to fit. Unlike Amaziah, my life wasn’t compartmentalized into two sections. Instead my life looked more like a garden with flowers bursting forth in many places. Yet scattered throughout were ugly weeds, pernicious, invasive, and always seeming about to take over if I don’t constantly root them out.

Again I ask… how about you?

These thoughts ushered me into prayer…

O, God, forgive me and my lack of wholeheartedness. Forgive my sin –which is many- and purify me from all unrighteousness (1John 1:9). Cleanse me that I might be whiter than snow; and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me (Ps 51).

Lord Jesus, help me tackle and control the impulses to sin so that I might live wholeheartedly for You, the Father and the Spirit. In Your name I pray. Amen.



Friday, March 25: 2Chronicles 24- Faithful throughout his life.

Although it is normal to focus on King Joash, I found myself considering the life of Jehoiada, the priest. Jehoiada and his wife risked their lives to hide Joash from his deranged grandmother when he was a baby. Raising him 6-years under constant threat, Jehoiada sensed from the Lord that when Joash was 7, it was time to crown him the rightful king. He then proceeded to advise and counsel King Joash the rest of his days, dying at 130! At his death the people of Jerusalem honored his faithfulness by burying him with the kings in the City of David (15).

In addition to serving as faithful priest and advisor to the king, Jehoiada also raised a faithful son, Zechariah, who followed in his father’s footsteps,  speaking God’s Word to the crown.

The text doesn’t comment on Jehoiada’s fathering prowess but the faithfulness of his son is clear in the text.  I am taking some ‘reader’s license’ and reading between the lines.

My thoughts and meditations flash between faithfulness in life’s call and faithfulness in one’s family. There shouldn’t be a divide between these two but often, sadly, there is. Heroes for God sometimes overlook their families. David, a man after God’s own heart, had a dysfunctional family.

Watching and meditating on Jehoiada gives me an example of a man who managed both career and family with grace, class and faithfulness.  That is something I aspire to do…

Lord God, thank You for including Jehoiada in Your scriptures. Lord, I pray that I, too, might live all my days faithfully before You, choosing faithfulness even at the risk of my life, and choosing faithfulness over profit or fame or worldly pleasure. Also, Lord, I pray that I live in such a way that I inspire my children to live faithfully before You as well.

Lord, I don’t know where life will take me or how long a life You have ordained for me to live. I pray that my life inspires others to walk with You. May my life bring You honor and glory… through my sovereign Lord Jesus, I pray. Amen.


Thursday, March 24: 2Chronicles 23- Kairos time.

The last few years I have been learning about ‘kairos time.’ Kairos is one Greek word that we translate in English as ‘time.’ Kairos is not the kind of time we get from our watches or calendars (that is ‘chronos’ as in chronometer or chronology), instead it means season or the ‘right time’ to do something or ‘God’s time’ to do something.

As I was reading this chapter about the coronation of Joash, I kept thinking, “This is a perfect example of kairos time.” For all the moving parts to fall into place perfectly shows that God was on the move, orchestrating things behind the scene. Joash was old enough to be accepted and received by the people as king (although I cannot imagine being 7 and king!). Jehoiada was able to stealthily orchestrate all of the arrangements and Athalia, the queen, was oblivious to all the actions.  Looking back as the chronicler does shows how everything aligned and Jehoiada also followed obediently God’s promptings. 

The text is silent but I wondered what told Jehoiada that it was the right time.  How did he process the Lord’s nudgings? And this caused me to consider God’s voice in my life.  Am I listening for God’s promptings and when they come do, I follow?

Lord, may my ears and eyes be open to the things You want to show me today.  Lead me and direct me, so that I may walk faithfully with You, doing everything You would have me do today and all my todays. Lord, keep me observant for your ‘kairos’ moments in my life… Your moment to speak with a friend about Jesus or Your moment to encourage someone or make a call because ‘so and so’ in on my mind. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.



Wednesday, March 23: 2Chronicles 22- Promise-keeping God

One of the darkest periods in Judah’s life is sketched in chapter 22. The king, Ahaziah, is faithlessly aligning with the vile king of Israel, Ahab.  This was thanks, in part, to the advisors he gathers and to his mother who is a relative of Ahab.

At his death, after reigning only one year, his mother goes berserk, killing all the royal family so she can seize power and she reigns faithlessly for 6 years! Judah was a mess… not so much straying from God but running from God!

Yet even during this dark time, God was quietly at work keeping His covenant and promises to His people. Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram, took Joash son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the royal princes who were about to be murdered and put him and his nurse in a bedroom. …, she hid the child from Athaliah so she could not kill him. He remained hidden with them at the temple of God for six years while Athaliah ruled the land (11-12). By saving Joash’s life, God is keeping His promise… a son of David on the throne!

Even in the worst of days, during the most vile of times, when people turn their backs on God, God keeps His promises to His people.

My mind flipped to the NT story of the prodigal son. The father, the God-figure in the parable, never stopped loving the runaway son. He always kept his eye on the horizon looking for his son.  And the day the father saw the son coming home, the father ran to him at the earliest moment of his return.

I think back through my life, even when I have been far less than righteous in God’s eyes, He never wrote me off. God waited and wooed and called and brought me back home to Him. When Judah was in her funk, God conspired to save Joash and honor the promise He made to David.

When God says He will never leave us or forsake us, when God says he will purify us from all our sins when we confess them to Him (1John1:9), we can bank our very lives that God will keep His promises, because God always does!

Bless the, Lord, O my soul and all that is within me bless His holy Name. God is so God; far more good than my actions deserve. And all I can do today is bless You, Lord, and thank You, Lord, and praise You, Lord. Hallelujah! Amen

Tuesday, March 22: 2Chronicles 21- We become who we listen to.

Despite a legacy of faith, Jehoram choose to follow in the footsteps of his father-in-law, Ahab, rather than his father Jehoshaphat. How that happens and why that happens, I have no idea and neither does the text give us any hints. (A brief flash back to yesterday, today’s sad tale provides another reason to watch our companions… their influence upon our children).

Sadly Jehoram lived a despicable life. Verses 2-4 sets the scene: When Jehoram established himself firmly over his father's kingdom, he put all his brothers to the sword along with some of the princes of Israel. Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years. He walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, as the house of Ahab had done, for he married a daughter of Ahab. He did evil in the eyes of the LORD.

But the lowlight comes in the closing verse, which says that He passed away, to no one's regret. (20).

We become who we listen to.  Jehoram listened to the wrong people, their influence led him down the wrong path and he lived a despicable life as a result.

To whom are you listening?

Lord Jesus, send the Holy Spirit to be my advisor and my influencer. Help me to attune my ear to the Spirit’s voice and words. I pray this, Jesus, in Your name. Amen.


Monday, March 21: 2Chronicles 20- Doing the right thing.


As I began reading this chapter, everything in me wanted to shout, “YEAH, He got it right!” In a time of national crisis, Jehoshaphat sought God for direction and even more, he called all the people throughout the land to join him in a fast, seeking the Lord!

My heart knew what he should do and he did it.  As I thought that last sentence and typed its words, the nudge of the Spirit came in a simple word, “Do you do the right thing, Bill?  Do you?”

It is easy to know what others should do to be faithful, however it is harder when it is me.

The story continues as God provides the deliverance. God answers prayer. God comes to our aid. God delivers.  And to this I say, “Yeah God! You live up to Your Word. Bless and thank You, Lord.

Lord, thank You for today’s reading. I am so encouraged to watch someone live faithfully and see You come through! Oh, that brightens my soul and reminds me to keep at living faithfully to You. May Your name be praised through my living and acting and being. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


PS. I noticed in the last verse that Jehoshaphat makes another bad choice to ally himself with Ahab’s son.  It reminds me that we each have weak spots in our faith and we need to build especially strong defenses in these areas. Hmmmm…




Saturday, March 19: 2Chronicles 19- Unequally yoked?...

Yesterday I wondered why Jehoshaphat has allied himself with Ahab. In the back of my mind was 2Corinthians 6:14: Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? In its context, it is addressing working relationships.  Jehoshaphat and Ahab’s alliance would qualify as such.

Well, my intuition seemed on target as I opened the text for today. Right off the bat the text read, When Jehoshaphat king of Judah returned safely to his palace in Jerusalem, Jehu the seer, the son of Hanani, went out to meet him and said to the king, "Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the LORD? Because of this, the wrath of the LORD is upon you (1-2).

This causes me to consider my working relationship. I don’t believe God is saying not to relate to or work with unbelievers because that would be next to impossible. But we walk a fine line when we are under them, controlled by them or heavily influenced by them. Their play book is not the same as the Lord’s, which we are to follow. Their rules of operation are not the same as God’s, which I am to follow. Obviously, there are times I have no choice.  For example, a slave didn’t get to choose his master!

When I can choose, that’s when “unequally yoked” comes to play. Jehoshaphat didn’t have to ally with Ahab.  He chose to and God was not pleased…

Quietly comes the whisper of God… “Bill, consider your discretionary relationships.  Are you “unequally yoked with those who don’t follow Me”” …

Lord, the relationships we are in exert influence, some tremendous influence, on me and how I live. Help me, Lord, to build good relationships and to use my relationships for good, to influence others and to stand strong against negative influence. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Friday, March 18: 2Chronicles 18- Effective witness

This chapter had a number of movements that caught my spiritual attention. The scene in the court of heaven is worthy of thought and meditation. The interplay of the Lord’s prophet and King Ahab is also worthy of contemplation. And there were more. But what invited me to meditate this morning was the dialogue between Jehoshaphat and Ahab as the chapter opens. Why does faithful Jehoshaphat have a relationship with the unfaithful Ahab?  I scratch my head. But he does,,  so I will leave it at that for today.

As I listen to the two men speak with each other I hear Jehoshaphat witnessing to the power of the Lord his God. Some of my observations and contemplations from verse 2- 7:

2 Some years later he went down to visit Ahab in Samaria. Ahab slaughtered many sheep and cattle for him and the people with him and urged him to attack Ramoth Gilead. If we are going to have an opportunity to witness to people who do not follow our God, then a good place to begin is building a relationship with them.

3-4 Ahab king of Israel asked Jehoshaphat king of Judah, "Will you go with me against Ramoth Gilead?" Jehoshaphat replied, "I am as you are, and my people as your people; we will join you in the war." But Jehoshaphat also said to the king of Israel, "First seek the counsel of the LORD." In our relationship with our non-believing friends, we have to let our faith shine through in what we say and do. We cannot hide our faith from others and then hope to have opportunities to share our faith. Jehoshaphat asks to seek the counsel of the Lord because that is his usual routine in kingly matters. He is living his faith as usual.

5-6 So the king of Israel brought together the prophets--four hundred men--and asked them, "Shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?" "Go," they answered, "for God will give it into the king's hand." But Jehoshaphat asked, "Is there not a prophet of the LORD here whom we can inquire of?" Not everything spiritual is of the Lord. Jehoshaphat understands this. And when he seeks the Lord he wants the Lord’s prophets not counterfeits. As a pastor I am asked to pray in public and at public events. I pray in Jesus’ name because that is how I pray. When invited to pray with nonbelievers I pray in Jesus’ name. Jehoshaphat knows these prophets are not from the Lord and he won’t accept spiritual guidance from them.  He wants a prophet of the Lord. In this simple act, Jehoshaphat offers a subtle yet powerful witness.

7 The king of Israel answered Jehoshaphat, "There is still one man through whom we can inquire of the LORD, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah." "The king should not say that," Jehoshaphat replied. With his reply Jehoshaphat witnesses again to Ahab. How? By correcting the king, not harshly, not indignantly, but casually correcting so that Ahab should not defame Micaiah, prophet of the Lord, for what he says. Again, as we read on, it is obvious that this correction isn’t confrontational. Ahab receives it.  You can almost see him nodding his head ‘yes.’ He may not believe it but he understands and gets it. In our conversations with non-believing friends do we let defense of the Lord or His ways slide? Jehoshaphat’s conversation with Ahab suggests they are fertile moments for witness, if handled correctly.

Lord, thank You for this glimpse into an appropriate witness to You. Help me to be more effective in my witness to You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


Thursday, March 17: 2Chronicles 17- The importance of God's word.

In the third year of his reign he sent his officials… to teach in the towns of Judah. With them were certain Levites… and the priests…. They taught throughout Judah, taking with them the Book of the Law of the LORD; they went around to all the towns of Judah and taught the people  

The fear of the LORD fell on all the kingdoms of the lands surrounding Judah, so that they did not make war with Jehoshaphat. Some Philistines brought Jehoshaphat gifts and silver as tribute, and the Arabs brought him flocks: seven thousand seven hundred rams and seven thousand seven hundred goats (7-11).

I don’t recall seeing this before and I found it intriguing that Jehoshaphat sent out traveling teachers to instruct the people in the Law of the Lord. Taking the word to the people was brilliant!

I couldn’t help but wonder if the fear of the Lord that fell on other nations and the tribute that life-long enemies like the Philistines brought to Judah and their king wasn’t a result of people’s growth in the Lord due to Jehoshaphat’s idea to teach the people the word of God. I can’t say for certain, but the juxtaposition of accounts certainly suggests a link.

This got me chewing on the importance of knowing the Word of God. If I, you, we, want to keep strong in the Lord, if we want the blessing of God, if we want to know God, then we have to know God’s Word. It is the one absolutely certain revelation of the things God wants us to know. Without the Word as foundation, it is so easy for a person to slip off correct thinking about God and His ways into error and falsehood.

Jehoshaphat was brilliant to take the Word to the people…

Lord, I pray that I might build my life on Your word, reading it, ingesting it, thinking on it, and studying it for me and with brothers and sisters who also believe and follow You. Thank You for Your word. It is eternal, pure and sweeter than honey.  Thank You for the gift of Your word. Help me to treasure it always and give to me Your Holy Spirit that I might learn it and plant it deeply into my heart and soul… In Jesus’ name. Amen.



Wednesday, March 16: 2Chronicles 16- Not the way to end.


It is pure speculation as to what happened and why Asa turned from the Lord at the end of his life. I can spin a thousand possibilities but the text will neither confirm or deny them. The text is silent regarding the ‘what happened and why.’ And the fact that I can spin so many possibilities makes me all the more wary because some of the scenarios could fit my life!

God does tell us what Asa did that was unfaithful.

First, he reached out to an enemy of God for rescue. From a purely political point of view Asa’s decision makes sense. What his decision lacks is even a morsel of faith in God. (I find myself wondering again why someone who had been faithful in everything for 31-years now turns his back on God??? I am perplexed by this.) As it turns out, from a purely human political point of view, things turned out pretty well.

After this comes a word from God questioning Asa’s faithlessness and explaining that a greater victory was forfeited because he was faithless. At this Asa gets angry with God and acts recklessly, harboring his grudge against the Lord the rest of his life. Never again did Asa turn to the Lord. How sad.

Mistake #2, in my opinion, was harboring his anger and hardening his heart against God. God can handle our anger. David certainly expressed anger against God and others in the Psalms. David questioned God in the Psalms. What David and others didn’t do was stay there. David routinely opened himself to the Lord’s correction (David believed God’s judgments were always right) and eventually he sought a reconnection with the Lord. Asa missed the mark here. He never did turn back to the Lord and so he lived a miserable final 5 years. How sad!

I circle back to my life and I hear a warning.  If it happened to Asa, it could happen to me. Stay close to the Lord, guard your heart, watch out for pride.…

O, Lord, my God, save me from myself. Save me from the sin and corruption that continues to live in me.  Bring me home safely that I might hear, “Well done good and faithful servant.” Amen.



Tuesday, March 15: 2Chronicles 15- rewards from God.

There is so much worthy of meditation in the first paragraph in the word from the Lord to Asa, that I found myself dwelling on that portion of the text today.

The Spirit of God came upon Azariah son of Oded. He went out to meet Asa and said to him, "Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin. The LORD is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you. For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach and without the law. But in their distress they turned to the LORD, the God of Israel, and sought him, and he was found by them. In those days it was not safe to travel about, for all the inhabitants of the lands were in great turmoil. One nation was being crushed by another and one city by another, because God was troubling them with every kind of distress. But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded" (1-7).

Here are a couple of the thoughts that tickled my mind. To start, God is speaking with His covenant people… to those who He has already called into relationship. God promises to be found when they seek Him. Additionally, He says He will forsake them if they forsake Him. Now in my meditations I settled on the positive side of that equation. God says that He will be found if we seek Him. Even after a season of disappointment and sin, God promises that if we turn to Him and seek Him we will find Him. That gives me so much comfort. I am not perfect, I sin and screw up, but God won’t toss me to the trash pile.  Like the prodigal son, God is looking for me to come home every day, and when He sees me, even when I am still far away, God comes running to me! O, the depth and the love of God for those in His family.

I paused and soaked in this promise for a while before I moved on…

My second stop was verse 7, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded. God rewards faithfulness!  That is a motivator for me. Rewards motivate me and most people, and God knows that. Asa’s reward was 35-years of peace. I don’t know what or how God will reward me, but faithfulness has godly rewards… closeness with the Lord, positive things this side of eternity and eternal communion with the Lord in the life to come. When faithfulness and doing what God would want me to do is difficult, I push through partly because I know God will reward me somehow and I like rewards. God knows this and He set it up this way to give me a jump start toward faithfulness…

Think about it!

God, reading Your word this morning is my start to seeking You today. Find me and show me what You would have me do. To be faithful to You, that is my goal and my hope for today… In Jesus’ name and for the sake of His kingdom, I pray… Amen.



Monday, March 14: 2Chronicles 14- Seeking the Lord.

The Chronicler begins telling the life of Asa, King of Judah, with a brief summary of Asa’s life. Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God. He removed the foreign altars and the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He commanded Judah to seek the LORD, the God of their fathers, and to obey his laws and commands. He removed the high places and incense altars in every town in Judah, and the kingdom was at peace under him. He built up the fortified cities of Judah, since the land was at peace. No one was at war with him during those years, for the LORD gave him rest (2-6).

I was particularly attracted to the comment that Asa commanded Judah to seek the LORD,…, and to obey his laws and commands. It was the idea that he commanded Judah to seek the Lord that provided fuel for my meditations today. I recall with Reheboam that God spoke to him and I remember commenting that Reheboam didn’t seek God he only listened when God spoke. Asa apparently recognized the dangers of the ‘wait for God to speak’ life and taught (literally commanded) Judah to go to God first.  He was to seek God and what He would say on a matter instead of waiting to see if God says anything.

Asa presents a very different fabric for life. Seek God and God’s direction along with God’s help and guidance.  Don’t merely wait for Him to initiate contact.

Do you have a decision to make?  Are you at a crossroad with multiple paths before you? Seek God… that would be Asa’s response.

As you wake up in the morning, what do you do first? Seek the Lord… that would be Asa’s response.

You are tired and ready to drop into bed.  What is the last thing you do? Seek God, thank Him for the day, ask His blessing on the day to come… that would be Asa’s response.

Asa commanded Judah to be proactive in their relationship with the Lord. Don’t simply wait for the Lord to speak, seek Him.  Go to Him regularly, often and first.

That’s a practical way to live. I would like to think that is how I live.  Maybe I do at times but truthfully, I often act on my thoughts and wait to see if God comments about my decision…

And this means I have some more meditating to do: meditating on how I can better incorporate Asa’s call to seek the Lord into my living. How about you?

Lord, as I start my day I specifically ask You to Lead me. I intentionally ask You to direct my steps, my phone calls, my priorities today… And Lord teach me to live this way throughout the day and into my tomorrows. In Jesus name. Amen.


Saturday, March 12: 2Chronicles 13- doing the things of faith because you have faith

I found myself pausing after verse 12 and pondering what I had just read, particularly verses 10-12. Abijah, King of Judah, contrasting his religious routine with that of Jeroboam, King of Israel, who had set up his own priests and altar and god. "As for us, the LORD is our God, and we have not forsaken him. The priests who serve the LORD are sons of Aaron, and the Levites assist them. Every morning and evening they present burnt offerings and fragrant incense to the LORD. They set out the bread on the ceremonially clean table and light the lamps on the gold lampstand every evening. We are observing the requirements of the LORD our God. But you have forsaken him. God is with us; he is our leader. His priests with their trumpets will sound the battle cry against you. Men of Israel, do not fight against the LORD, the God of your fathers, for you will not succeed."

I found myself wondering, “Did Abijah have a form of godliness without its power (2Tim 3:5) or was it real”?

My wondering about Abijah is a wondering we should ask ourselves with some regularity. It is all too easy to perform the rituals of our faith faultlessly, while at the same time loosing the heart of our faith. As Paul says to Timothy, we can have the “form” of faith without the “substance.” Or to put it another way, we can do the things of faith and yet not have an abiding relationship with the Lord.

My wonderings about Abijah were answered shortly after I began reading the text again. Verse 18: The men of Israel were subdued on that occasion, and the men of Judah were victorious because they relied on the LORD, the God of their fathers. The word ‘relied’ connects the rituals performed with true trust and faith. Abijah was not putting on a religious show, maintaining the sacrifices and requirements of the Temple, he was living out his faith in the Lord. Those offerings were a demonstration of his reliance on the Lord.

Back to our lives… what does your scrutiny of your life show you about the substance of your faith? Are you reading your Bible, attending Bible study, worshipping weekly, praying daily, serving those in need, etc. out of love for the Lord or are they for show? Are you doing the things of faith because you have faith? Think about it… I am.

I pray, Lord God, that You fill me with the knowledge of Your will. Also, that the Father will strengthen me for the day(s) to come, that Holy Spirit will give me the ability to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is Jesus’ love for me and that I will know Your love in the deepest places of my heart. I pray this so that I will live a life worthy of You, Lord;  that I will please God in all I say and do; and that I may know the Lord better every day and live more faithfully as I grow closer and closer to Jesus…Amen.


Friday, March 11: 2Chronicles 12- Reheboam's failure

It didn’t take long to discover the answer to the 3-year comment I noticed yesterday. Chapter 12 opens with God’s judgment. Only 5 years into Reheboam’s reign, these are the words the Chronicler uses to describe the state of affairs. After Rehoboam's position as king was established and he had become strong, he and all Israel with him abandoned the law of the LORD. Because they had been unfaithful to the LORD, Shishak king of Egypt attacked Jerusalem in the fifth year of King Rehoboam (1-2).

The telling words in the text for me are these:  After Rehoboam's position as king was established and he had become strong, he and all Israel with him abandoned the law of the LORD. Over and over in scripture and in life I see that played out. When we become strong, (self-sufficient, comfortable in life, and the like) we leave the Lord. It is as if we believe “Oh, I have no more need for the Lord.” We forget that it was God in the first place who gave us the strength, wisdom, whatever it was, to grow to our point of strength. We become fooled into thinking that WE DID IT…

Sadly Reheboam succumbed to this.  As I muse, the Spirit’s nudge to me is, “Do I as well? Do I fall prey to comfort and success, and loose my vigilance in serving, honoring and following the Lord? Do I?”

My ‘ponder and meditate’ points today are to consider my strengths and successes and ask myself, “Am I relying on them more than I am relying on the Lord’? Am I?” Because if I am, I am taking steps towards Reheboam’s failure…

How about you?

Lord, walk with me today as I consider those areas of strength and success in my life. Thank You for them and yet, at the same time, Lord, I pray that You do not allow me to rest on them, to believe they are MY strengths –as if I own them.  Also, do not allow me to forget that You are the giver of every good gift and You are the source of my life and my strength and my everything. Keep me near You, I pray. In Jesus’ name. Amen.



Thursday, March 10: 2Chronicles 11- Seeking, faithfulness and vigilance

A few things struck me as I read today’s chapter.

First, Reheboam listened to the Lord (4) but he didn’t consult the Lord. God reached out to Reheboam and spoke to him through the prophet but there is no indication that Reheboam sought God. Many times in my life that is all too true of me. I ‘forget’ or neglect to seek God’s advice, yet God, in His providential care and love, speaks to me first. I am so thankful that the Lord desires and initiates communication with me.

O, Lord, I don’t want to loose touch with You. I want to stay connected with You.  Lord, I am thankful that when I separate or disappear, You pursue me. Thank You, Lord. I love You.

Another thing I noticed was that priests and Levites, choosing to be faithful to the Lord, came to Jerusalem (13-14). That provides a powerful picture of faithfulness to me. These men and their families uprooted themselves, left their land and friends so that they could remain faithful to God…

Lord, may I be as faithful as these priests and Levites, being willing to move, change locations and do what is necessary in order to demonstrate my faithfulness to You and to others.

Finally, I noticed an ominous sign in verse 17. Speaking of the priests and Levites who came to Jerusalem the text says, They strengthened the kingdom of Judah and supported Rehoboam son of Solomon three years, walking in the ways of David and Solomon during this time. The 3-year proviso causes me to wonder if there is unfaithfulness ahead. This reminds me how easily I (and anyone) can slip from the Lord toward unfaithfulness, which in turn causes me to think about vigilance in my faithfulness to the Lord…

Lord, I renew my pledge of love and faithfulness to You… In Jesus’ name. Amen.


Wednesday, March 9: 2Chronicles 10- When trouble strikes

·         From the outside their marriage looked great.  Then the economy turned, he was laid off and eventually divorce ensued…

·         The cursory inspection missed the small stress fractures in the bridge.  Then one day the unthinkable…an entire span collapsed shortly after the height of rush hour…

·         Earlier this year we have watched as seemingly strong Egypt erupts in protest and the government of 30 years is pushed out of power…

·         Jim Fixx, a guru of running, who recently passed his yearly physical with flying colors drops dead from a heart attack while doing what he loves, running…

Things can look good on the outside, sometimes.  Having passed a brief inspection recently, yet a stressor happens, a bridge collapses; the marriage breaks up; country divides or the person dies -THE SYSTEM FAILS. Why? Because things on the inside were in trouble and no one noticed.

Solomon built a colossal empire with gold and glint and yet, apparently, he built it on the backs of the people (4). We know from the Book of 1Kings that there was rampant unfaithfulness, due in large measure to Solomon’s personal apostasy. Israel’s foundation in the Lord was not strong and God had promised to judge them if they turned from Him.

In today’s reading the stressor happened.  There was a change of power and Reheboam, Solomon’s son, was not schooled well enough to handle it. As a result, the unthinkable happened, Israel divided. The once powerful nation was no more… and never would it reach the height of glory it had under Solomon –fools’ glory that it was.

Today’s account invites me (and you) to do a thorough examination of our foundation. The operative word is THOROUGH… anyone/anything can pass a cursory inspection, thus the key word ‘thorough’.

Lent (today is Ash Wednesday) offers us 7 weeks, 40 days, to inspect the faith foundation of our lives.  It is an opportunity not only to think through what we believe, but also to examine how well we are putting into practice what we believe.  ‘Thorough’ inspection is the key!

Lord, walk with me this Lent.  Take me to deep places with You and help me to have Your eyes to inspect my life, my beliefs, my behaviors, my dreams, my intentions, … in the light of You and Your word.  In and through Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit, I pray. Amen.


Tuesday, March 8: 2Chronicles 9- Beneath the exterior

The wealth and wisdom of Solomon’s Israel is captured in our reading today. Opulence, luxury and excess are words that come to my mind. Most everything referenced enhances the image of the king… golden goblets, gold shields… these are all for display. Honestly, is a gold shield better in battle than an iron one? No, and you can certainly make more than one iron shield for the price of one gold shield!

Yes, Israel was powerful.  Yes, Solomon was wise.  Yes, Israel had traders scouring the seas. And yes, other countries gave Solomon/Israel tribute.  However, nothing in this chapter speaks about the internal condition of Solomon and Israel, which I know from the book of Kings and elsewhere, were not faithful to the Lord.

A couple of weeks ago I taught on the letter to the church at Sardis in Revelation 3. The Lord says to Sardis, I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead (Rev 3:1).   that’s the feeling I have of Israel as Solomon’s reign comes to a close. Israel has the appearance of wisdom, wonder and wealth but beneath its opulent exterior lives faithlessness. And since faithfulness to the Lord was to be THE foundation of Israel, things could crumble.

The Spirit shifts my thinking from then to now, from Solomon’s life to mine. How are my faith foundations?  Are they strong? Are they solid? Will they last?

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Lent is traditionally used by Christians to look inside and examine our faith-life. I invite you to join me and millions of sisters and brothers who will spend the next weeks inspecting our faith foundations for weaknesses.

Lord, what would be good tools for me to use to inspect my faith-foundation? This is important stuff.  Show me what would be good for me to do these next few weeks… in Jesus’ name. Amen.



Monday, March 7: 2Chronicles 8- Sticking to the task


At the end of twenty years, during which Solomon built the temple of the LORD and his own palace… (1). During the last few chapters we have been reading about Solomon’s reign and primarily the building of the Temple and instituting worship at the Temple. What is missed in the retelling is the amount of time it took to build the Temple.  It took 20 years to build the Temple and his palace in Jerusalem. Twenty years on the job is a long time. Twenty years of focus, organization, management, and oversight. Twenty years of managing expectations, dealing with setback, problems and ‘issues’, all to build two projects.

I rolled this over and over.  Many a project dies for lack of focus and ‘stick-to-it-ness’. Credit Solomon with this;he stayed at the task to which God called him.  The most important concern God has called me to, is maintaining my faith. This may sound selfish but it really isn’t. My faith is the foundation for everything I do and more importantly, everything I am. My faith in God –Father, Son and Holy Spirit– is the core of my life. This text call me to examine my resolve to walk with Jesus through thick and thin, on the tough days and the easy ones, and all the days in between.

The Spirit’s promptings today are for me to persevere and to keep strengthening my faith-foundation. I realized that this description of Solomon was written long after he had died. It is not as if Solomon was patting himself on the back saying, ‘Look at what I have accomplished.’ No, it was a chronicler looking back and marveling at Solomon’s ability to finish a task.

Sometimes the day to day activities of life can be routine and mundane, filled with setbacks and successes. My desire is that after I have died and gone on to be with the Lord, that others, my kids in particular, will see my life and say, “Bill (dad) stayed with his faith, he labored and worked 20-30-40-60 years with Jesus and his foundation was strong and sure…” For this to become true, I need to stick to the task of maintaining my faith in the Lord.

Another great aspect of this chapter is, after the 20-years of temple and palace building, Solomon kept working to make Israel strong and great…

Lord, may it be said of me that I kept working to make Your kingdom strong and great. Lord God, I can only do that if my foundation in You is strong and solid.  Grant me Your grace, O Lord, to keep at the important concern of walking closely with You each and every day of my life, as long as You give me breath. Amen.


Saturday, March 5: 2Chronicles 7- Popcorn thoughts


My mind ricocheted around the text like popcorn kernels in an air popper…

‘Pop’… without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness (Heb 9:22), I reflected on that verse as I read about 22,000 cattle and 120,000 sheep and goats that were sacrificed. I thought about all the blood and what the sacrificing tables must have been like.  I thought about the time taken and the priests and Levites who did the sacrificing. I wondered what it smelled like in the dry Middle Eastern sun. I thought about the costliness of praise for OT Israel.

My thoughts popped to a different costliness… the death of Jesus, the very Son of God, giving His life so that my sins and the sins of all who believe in Him could be forgiven.

‘Pop’, my mind bounced back to the text and the simplicity of the verbal praise. He [God] is good; his love endures forever. Again they sang, His love endures forever (3,6). The words themselves are so simple, yet they carry the incredible message of God. They got it! God’s love endures for ever!

‘Pop’, I thought, ‘ahh’, was this the first worship chorus? I wondered how many times they repeated it. I wondered if they sang it antiphonally or in a round or in unison. I wondered what it sounded like supported by the priests and Levites on trumpets and other instruments.

‘Pop’… I noticed the crowd was standing.  Did they lift hands? Earlier they knelt and put their faces all the way to the ground (3). How expressive their worship. It involved singing and posture and sacrificing animals…

‘Pop’, they kept this up for 7 full days (8). By the end people must have been exhausted… and God delighted to glory in the praises of His people.

Lord, as we prepare today for worship tomorrow, I ask for a deep sense of Your presence today and an even deeper sense when we gather in the morning in Your name. May our worship be as pleasant to You as the scene described in Chapter 7. Amen and Amen.


Friday, March 4: 2Chronicles 6- Majestic description and haunting thought

Solomon prays an astounding prayer, oh his depth of insight filled with recognition of God’s majesty and human depravity.

As he prayed, I marveled at the Lord who knows and sees everything. Verse 30 caused me to pause and ponder… Forgive, and deal with each man according to all he does, since you know his heart (for you alone know the hearts of men). God knows my heart. God sees through my actions to my intentions. He knows what motivates and drives me. He knows the inclinations of my heart. God knows me better than I know me.

On the one hand this gave me great comfort. I serve a BIG God, the BIGGEST God, who alone knows the heart of men – all men! If I am going to serve and worship God, I want it to be the BIG God not some capricious god who can make mistakes and be fooled and loose battles kind of god.

On the other hand I felt vulnerable.  God knows who I truly am… the me inside… the me who thinks, dreams and lives selfishly… the me who doesn’t love consistently and instead is capable of hate and vile thoughts and … God knows me… ugly sin-filled me.

I find myself amazed that this all-knowing God loves insignificant and sin-filled me. Wow! I am reduced to praise:

O, Lord, I don’t know how to respond other than to praise You and thank You. I marvel at Your magnificence, Your power, Your knowledge… I’m in awe of You… the Doxology spontaneously bursts into my prayer: Praise God from whom all blessings flow… Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen!

After those spontaneous moments of praise I flashed back to the text haunted by Solomon. How could he believe and pray such an insightful prayer on this day and yet turn his back on God’s ways for so much of his life?

O, God, keep me near You. Do not let me stray. My sin-filled self is so easily capable of turning from You. I beg for Your grace, Your mercy. I plead for Your Holy Spirit to fill and lead me toward You. I pray for strength to gain victory, by Your Spirit within me, over the sin which besets my life this side of eternity. I humble myself before You… O, Jesus, guide me home faithfully… Amen.



Thursday, March 3: 2Chronicles 5- The presence of God

Construction complete, furnishings installed, now all that remained was to move the ark of God (the footstool for the Almighty here on earth) into the Temple. Following the prescriptions of the Law, the ark is brought into the Temple’s Holy of Holies amidst great joy, celebration and animal sacrifices. This was a day of pageantry and humble worship to the Lord.

And the Lord honors the faith of His people with a manifestation of His presence. The trumpeters and singers joined in unison, as with one voice, to give praise and thanks to the LORD. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, they raised their voices in praise to the LORD and sang: "He is good; his love endures forever." Then the temple of the LORD was filled with a cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the temple of God (13-14).

Ahh, the mighty, tangible presence of God… I have experienced it. Not as a cloud as happened that day when the ark entered the Temple but in other ways. I have felt the weight of God’s glory in worship, when all we could do as a people was sit or kneel in silence. I have been in a meeting when a divided group prayed and through our corporate prayer God provided a unanimous decision. I have been in prayer when God gave a word, an insight, that opened a flow of inner healing that is beyond words to describe. I have experienced the mighty, tangible presence of God.

Today in 2011, the doorway to the presence of God is not the doors of a Temple in Jerusalem, it is faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Have you said “yes” to Jesus? Have you acknowledged Jesus to be God and the Lord and ruler of your life? Have you asked Jesus for forgiveness of your sins and the gift of God’s Holy Spirit within your life? If you haven’t, I pray you do today, without delay.

Lord Jesus, I believe You are God almighty and I submit my life to Your leadership…Your ‘Godship.’ Lead and guide me, direct my path, forgive my sins and show me how to live such that my life honors You. Jesus, I ask this in Your name. Amen.



Wednesday, March 2: 2Chronicles 4- Elaborate furnishings

Furnishings for the Temple were quite something… the bronze sea with its elaborate stand, pots, lamp stands, shovels, golden tables, etc., etc. All of these necessary articles invited me to think about the elaborate nature of Israelite worship. Offerings offered in precise ways. Animals slaughtered, sometimes cooked, sometimes burned, depending upon the type of offering.

Priests were the keepers of the rules and the only ones authorized to make the offerings…

My, how the access to God was controlled. Then again, at least these rules provided access to God…

Musing about Old Testament worship, I found myself so appreciating the unlimited access I and all Christ-followers have with the Lord. God is always there when I call, always available and never busy. I don’t need an involved set of rituals or the sacrifice of animals. All I need to do is call out to Him and God bends an ear to me and my needs, cries or praises. God is always there. Always.

Lord God, thank You for always being available… for welcoming me, inviting me and always being present to me when I call. Thank You, Lord. Thank You. Amen.


Tuesday, March 1: 2Chronicles 3- Extravagant building, extravagant giving

I have spent 20 minutes trying to imagine what the Temple was really like. According to verse 8 over a billion dollars of gold (present day value) was used in the building of the Temple.  That’s a lot of gold! More difficult for me to imagine was the inside of the Temple covered completely in gold.  What did it look like? How did the room shine when lit by candles? I struggle to picture it… light dancing off all of the gold.

Nails of gold (9), huge cherubim of gold… nothing but the best for his God.

Now, I imagine, too, that there were voices crying, “Solomon, slow down, think about all you could do and build with this wealth. Are you sure you want to put it into the Temple?” The more I think about this the more I suspect that there were more than a few voices suggesting alternative uses for all this wealth.

Questions began to pop into my thoughts, questions calling me to think deeply about my giving…

Do I give my best to the Lord?... monetarily, time-wise?

Do I give extravagantly or safely to the Lord?

Do I listen to the voice of the Spirit regarding use of my wealth or do I listen to alternative voices who may be well meaning but not God focused?

Lord God, week after week I sing songs pledging my all to You. I mean it, Lord, I do. But at the same time I also need serious deposits of Your Spirit to help me give myself -in real and practical ways- to You with extravagance and love. Come, Holy Spirit, fill me that all I have might be for God’s glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.