Choose Your Battles Wisely

Choose Your Battles Wisely

Today’s Passage – 2 Kings 23 – 25 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

Second Milers also read – Luke 23 – 24; Psalms 16 – 20; Proverbs 4

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Joshua 1:8

Read the “0504 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“In his days Pharaohnechoh king of Egypt went up against the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates: and king Josiah went against him; and he slew him at Megiddo, when he had seen him.” – (2 Kings 23:29)

In order to make sense of the story referenced in 2 Kings 23:29 above, the parallel passage in 2 Chronicles 35:20 – 25 should be read also. In a nutshell, the two big dogs on the block during the time of Josiah are Egypt and Assyria. The Kingdom of Judah, which includes Jerusalem and its surrounding areas was nestled right in between these two world powers. Assyria had already conquered the northern kingdom of Israel. Anyway, Egypt was travelling north to fight with Assyria at a place called Carchemesh on the Euphrates River. King Josiah from Judah, for some unknown reason, got in the middle of this battle, choosing to fight for the Assyrians against Egypt. 2 Chronicles tells us that the Pharaoh of Egypt warned Josiah not to interfere. Nowhere in Scripture does it say that God told Josiah to get involved. From all appearances it looks as if Josiah was killed because he involved himself in something that God never told him to be involved in. Josiah was a great king, but he got his priorities messed up here. The end result is that Josiah’s son takes control of Judah, and the Bible tells us that he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord.

I think that there is a great lesson for us to learn here. Sometimes we get ourselves in trouble when we interfere in things that God never told us to interfere with. We need to learn to do two things. First, we need to choose our battles carefully. Second, we need to learn to mind our own business at times. Now don’t misunderstand, sometimes God wants us to get involved in things that are not directly involving us, but when these times arise we need to make sure that it is truly God’s will for us to involve ourselves. When I look back through the  years of my ministry here at Jersey Shore Baptist Church, I can now see in hindsight that there were many times that I got involved in things that God never told me to do. As a result, the church would lose focus, and harm would come. I am trying now to stay within the area that God has called me to. He has called me to pastor the people of Jersey Shore Baptist Church, and He has called me to get the message of the gospel to my community. Besides my responsibilities as a husband and father, those are my main duties. It is a big enough job by itself, so I don’t need to get mixed up in something that distracts me from those purposes. There are a lot of “good” causes out there to get involved in, but even a “good” cause can become sin, if it is not God’s will.

How about you? Do you ever find yourself getting sidetracked into an area that distracts you from what you know God wants you to do? Choose your battles wisely, mind your own business, and stay focused on the will of God for your life.

By the way, I want to also be careful to acknowledge that even though Josiah got mixed up in something he shouldn’t have; he was still a great king, and in my opinion the greatest king Judah ever had. Chapter 23 of our passage records all of the great things Josiah did in Judah and even in the northern kingdom, Israel. He worked tirelessly removing the evil that his predecessors had allowed to enter into the land.


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Have You Found The Book?

Have You Found the Right Book

Today’s Reading – 2 Kings 20 – 22 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Luke 21 – 22; Psalms 11 – 15; Proverbs 3)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Joshua 1:8

Read the “0503 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read a previous post from this passage – “He Should Have Quit While He Was Ahead”

“And Hilkiah the high priest said unto Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the LORD. And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it.” – (2 Kings 22:8)

In chapter 22, we have the account of the great king Josiah. I used to have debates with a good friend of mine as to who was the greatest king of Israel or Judah. His favorite was Hezekiah, but mine was Josiah. I like Josiah. He started young but he had a heart for God from the beginning of his reign until he died, and he caused God to postpone the judgment that was coming due to the sins of the kings before him.

As I mentioned already, Josiah was a good king from the start, but something happens in verses 10 and 11 that will destine him for greatness. The men that were working on the Temple discover a copy of “the book of the law”, the Bible. Apparently the Bible had been missing and out of use for many years because nobody seemed to even know about it at this point. When Josiah reads it for the first time, he “rent his clothes” because he knew that Israel and Judah had gotten completely away from the principles contained in “the Book”. Once he has finished mourning over the sad state of affairs in his nation, he begins to implement in the nation all of precepts contained in the law. He follows God with all of his heart and all of his strength, and God puts his blessings once again on the nation of Judah.

How about you?  Have you found “the Book”?  Have you discovered that “the Book” is not just a dusty decoration on your coffee table but is a powerful source of nourishment for your hungry soul, and a bright light of direction in this dark world that we live in today. Find your Bible, read your Bible, study your Bible, apply your Bible, and share your Bible with others.


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Spread It Before the Lord

man-praying-in-field

Today’s Reading – 2 Kings 18 – 19 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Luke 19 – 20; Psalms 6 – 10; Proverbs 2)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Deuteronomy 32:4

Read the “0502 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read a previous post from this passage – “Now You’ve Crossed the Line”

“And it came to pass, when king Hezekiah heard it, that he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the LORD.” – (2 Kings 19:1)

“And Hezekiah received the letter of the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up into the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD.” – (2 Kings 19:14)

In our passage this morning in 2 Kings. we see the city of Jerusalem surrounded by the army from Assyria. Assyria had already conquered much of the known world at that time, including the northern kingdom of Israel, and Jerusalem in Judah certainly did not have the military strength to repel such a powerful force. Hezekiah, the King of Judah did what we all should do when we are faced with problems far bigger than our own human ability to solve: he went to the Lord. Notice in verse 1 above that Hezekiah went into the house of the Lord. That’s a good place to go to find answers, isn’t it. He then sent for the man of God, Isaiah. In this passage we can see a recipe that will help us in time of trouble. Go to God; go to God’s house; seek counsel from the man of God.

Notice in verse 14 above, the Assyrian’s are threatening again, and Hezekiah does the same thing that he did the first time. Why wouldn’t he? By the way, both times God delivers Jerusalem from the mighty Assyrians. The first time, God just lures them away from Jerusalem, but the second time He actually kills 185,000 of them. They should have quit while they were ahead.

So, what can we learn from this passage? When you are faced with questions and problems that are bigger than yourself, go to God. Look into the Bible for answers to your questions. Seek counsel from the men and women that God has placed in your life to help you. And whatever you do, do not forsake the house of God, when you are faced with problems. It very well may be that God will solve your problem there. The older I get, the more I realize that my life is bigger than my ability to live it right, and I often find myself not knowing what to do. I need God’s help. I need God’s wisdom. Our church is always facing decisions that drive us to our knees.  My family is facing decisions regarding the future. We need God’s wisdom; God’s help. We need to spread these things before the Lord.

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” – (James 1:5 )


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Have It Your Way

Burger-King-Have-It-Your-Way

Today’s Passage – 2 Kings 16 – 17 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Luke 17 – 18; Psalms 1 – 5; Proverbs 1)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – 1 John 4:7 & 8

Read the 0501 Evening and Morning devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read a previous post from this passage – “I Warned You”

“They feared the LORD, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence.” – (2 Kings 17:33)

“So these nations feared the LORD, and served their graven images, both their children, and their children’s children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day.” (2 Kings 17:41)

Do you remember the old Burger King jingle and ad campaign, “Have It Your Way”. Years ago this company promoted the concept of having your burger custom designed any way you desire. They inferred that the other fast-food burger places would only let you purchase their food the way they made it, and you could not “special order” a sandwich the way you wanted it. The ad campaign, I think, was very successful for Burger King. It has been over 30 years since they ran those ads, and I still remember them. The Burger King concept is a reflection of the American culture. We don’t want to be confined to a pre-determined menu. We want it our way. The Burger King concept may be a very good idea when it comes to selling fast food, but it will be a disaster for the church.

In our text we see in the land of Israel people from many nations. They had been placed there by the king of Assyria after he had removed the Israelites from the land. These foreigners faced opposition from God Himself when they first came in to inhabit the land (see 2 Kings 17:25), so they figured they had better do something to appease the God of Israel. The king of Assyria released one of the Israelite priests from captivity, and charged him to return to Israel and instruct the people in the proper worship of the God of Israel. The result was that these people incorporated God into their worship partially, but they still continued to worship their own gods, their way.

The New Testament tells us that in the end times there will be many that will do the same thing:

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” – (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

We are certainly living in the time that the Bible describes in 2 Timothy, and we have applied the Burger King philosophy to our worship of God. We pick and choose which doctrines on the menu that appeal to our tastes, and we create our own custom designed forms of worship and service. We have it wrong. This “seeker sensitive” generation of Christians needs to go back to the Bible and discover what is pleasing to the Lord, and then submit themselves to the menu that He has designed for them in His wisdom. God knows how to make our burgers better than we can. We had better let Him have it His way.


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God Sent Them a Saviour

God Sent Them A Saviour

Today’s Passage – 2 Kings 13 – 15 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Luke 15 – 16; Proverbs 30 – 31; Psalms 146 – 150)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – 1 John 3:1

Read the “0430 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he delivered them into the hand of Hazael king of Syria, and into the hand of Benhadad the son of Hazael, all their days. And Jehoahaz besought the LORD, and the LORD hearkened unto him: for he saw the oppression of Israel, because the king of Syria oppressed them. (And the LORD gave Israel a saviour, so that they went out from under the hand of the Syrians: and the children of Israel dwelt in their tents, as beforetime.” – (2 Kings 13:3-5)

In our passage today we have the northern kingdom of Israel, which is a nation that had long ago abandoned the God that had brought them from bondage in Egypt, and had given them a land of their own. They are lead by a king, Jehoahaz who the Bible describes as an evil man. Because of this nations wickedness, God sends judgment via the hand of the Syrians. However, in verse 4 something very interesting happens: this bad king, Jehoahaz, humbles himself before the Lord, and asks for the Lord’s help; and the Lord delivers Israel from the hand of their enemy.

What a marvelous picture we have here of the grace of the Lord. This nation and this king certainly did not deserve any help from the Lord; yet the Lord, in His mercy, delivered them anyway. This story reminds me of another story. I know a guy who is also a bad guy – a sinner; and he lives in a bad place – America: a nation that also has long ago abandoned the God that blessed them with their freedom and prosperity. Twenty-five plus years ago this evil guy I know recognized his sinful condition, and the judgment that lay ahead for him in Hell, and he also humbles himself before the Lord, and calls upon Him for forgiveness. You know what? The Lord had mercy upon him too, and saved him. That guy’s name is Phil Erickson. He didn’t deserve it then, and still doesn’t deserve now any consideration at all from a holy God; yet God saved him. What a God?

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” – (Romans 10:13)


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Windows in Heaven

windows of heaven

Today’s Passage – 2 Kings 7 – 9 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 11 – 12; Proverbs 28; Psalm 136 – 140

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Ephesians 4:32

Read the “0428 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“Then a lord on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God, and said, Behold, if the LORD would make windows in heaven, might this thing be? And he said, Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof.” (2 Kings 7:2)

In today’s passage we see the the city of Samaria surrounded by an overwhelming army of the Syrians. This massive host from Syria had the city surrounded for some time, which caused the Israelites to run completely out of food on the inside of the city; with no way to get out to get more food. Things got so bad the people were actually buying and selling dove’s dung to eat. Some had even killed and ate children. Pretty hopeless situation.

Along comes the man of God and tells them that at the same time the next day the situation would be reversed, so much so that food that was very expensive the previous day would be sold for next to nothing on the next day. But one of the lords (princes) of Israel doubted the Word of God through the mouth of the prophet, and stated basically that this is impossible, even if God were to open the windows of heaven.

You can read the story for yourself; but God did exactly what he said he would do. The Syrians heard the sound of chariots, and assumed that their enemies from Egypt or maybe the Hittites were coming to help Israel by attacking them. They flee, leaving all of their food and goods behind. Israel discovers that the Syrians have left, and they come out of the city and spoil the camp of the Syrians.

It looks like God truly opened up the windows of heaven. We have a promise from the word of God regarding those same windows in heaven:

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” (Malachi 3:10)

God has promised us that if we will keep him first in our lives that he will keep those windows open. He doesn’t promise that we will all live in mansions on this earth and eat caviar; but praise the Lord, we won’t have to eat dove’s dung either.


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God Will Take Care of You

God Will Take Care of You

Today’s Passage – 2 Kings 4 – 6 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 9 – 10; Proverbs 27; Psalms 131 – 135

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Matthew 6:33

Read the “0427 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets unto Elisha, saying, Thy servant my husband is dead; and thou knowest that thy servant did fear the LORD: and the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen. … Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children of the rest.” – (2 Kings 4:1, 7)

There are some mornings when I have a difficult time finding something interesting to write about from the Scripture reading for the day. However, the three chapters that we have read this morning from 2 Kings 4 – 6 are full of exciting stories from the life of Elisha. I have chosen this morning to consider the story of the widow woman who was miraculous provided for by God. The story is found in 2 Kings 4: 1 – 7, and speaks of a woman was the wife of one of the prophets, and was now left alone to care for her two sons. She has nothing left but a pot of oil in her house. The creditors are bearing down on her, and want to take her two sons as bondmen in order to repay a debt that is owed them. She comes to the man of God for help, and he instructs her to borrow vessels from her neighbors that will hold oil. Elisha takes the little bit of oil that she has and pours it into the other containers that the woman borrowed from her neighbors. The oil did not run out until all of the vessels were filled, which she was then able to go and sell so that she would be able to pay the debt that she owed.

There are two thoughts that I would like to pull from this passage. The first involves debt. The Scripture says, “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” – (Proverbs 22:7). The passage does not give us any of the details regarding the reason why this woman was in debt. It may have been a debt that she inherited from her dead husband. Anyway, she has a debt that is causing her a lot of trouble. I got to thinking about what kind of financial situation my wife would be in if I passed away suddenly today. I would leave her with the burden of some debt. We are in the process of making some changes in our financial decisions so that all of our debt would be eliminated. I would not want to leave my wife with the kind of pressure this woman had to face.

My second thought from this passage is that God took care of this lady who had given her life to serve Him. She was the wife of one of the prophets, and prophets lived by faith. They had no doubt made many financial sacrifices in the process of serving the Lord. I understand a little about what she is going through. When we sold our house, and packed up our stuff and headed for Bible college, we knew that we were entering a journey of faith and sacrifice. We have had to live without a lot of things throughout the years; but one of the things that we have had to do away with was insurance. Since we have been in the ministry, we have been unable to afford health insurance or life insurance. I know that this is not good stewardship, but when you are forced to choose between food on the table or an insurance policy to protect you from something that may or may not happen, you can see why we might go uninsured. This is a great source of worry for my wife particularly. However, this passage reminds us that even though we may not be the best financial planners, God takes care of those that have given their life in service for Him. He will take care of my family. Don’t misunderstand, someday I want to be able to provide some of these comforting benefits like insurance for my family; but for now, I know that God has got my family’s back.

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” – (Matthew 6:33)


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Still Calling Down Fire

elijahandfirefromheavenToday’s Passage – 2 Kings 1 – 3 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 7 – 8Proverbs 26; Psalms 126 – 130

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Micah 6:8

Read the “0426 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“And Elijah answered and said unto them, If I be a man of God, let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And the fire of God came down from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.” (2 Kings 1:12)

In 2 Kings 2, Elijah passes the mantle on to Elisha, and he is caught up to Heaven. Presumably, 2 Kings 1 is recording an event that took place shortly before the Lord took Elijah home to Heaven. You will remember also that back in 1 Kings 19, Elijah was discouraged, and on the run from Jezebel, and had requested that God take his life from him. He was down and depressed, but not out completely. It appears that though Elijah was discouraged in 1 Kings 19, he had picked himself back up, and was still calling down fire from Heaven right up until the Lord took him home. The ministry can be very discouraging at times, but we must not quit. Elijah didn’t.

In our passage today in 2 Kings 1, Elijah calls down fire from Heaven twice and destroys one captain and 50 men that were sent from King Ahaziah to apprehend him. Elijah had previously sent word to the wicked king that his days were numbered, and the king wanted to speak to Elijah personally about it, so he sent an army to get him. Elijah didn’t feel “lead of God” to go, so he called down fire and destroyed the army. The king then sends another captain and another fifty men, and Elijah does the same thing. A third captain and another fifty soldiers are sent, but this time they very humbly beg Elijah to go with them, and Elijah does so. However, the message to the king does not change, and Elijah personally tells Ahaziah that he is about to die. My point is that God was still demonstrating his power, and declaring his message through Elijah right up until the end of his life.

I am thinking this morning about some men of God in our day that are still being used of the Lord in a tremendous way, even though they are well past the retirement years. I pray that I will still be in the game like Elijah, and like these men today, at the end of my life. I know my job description may change somewhat, but I do not wish to ever retire. I want to just keep going, doing what I am doing now, right up until the chariots come for me.

 


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The Lord’s People

familypraying

Today’s Passage – 2 Kings 10 – 12 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 13 – 14Proverbs 29; Psalms 141 – 145

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – 1 Timothy 1:17

Read the “0429 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read a previous post from this passage – “Housecleaning

“And Jehoiada made a covenant between the LORD and the king and the people, that they should be the LORD’S people; between the king also and the people.” (2 Kings 11:17)

The northern kingdom of Israel never had the benefit of good leadership, and there is no doubt that the worst leadership team that served them was King Ahab, and Queen Jezebel. Time would not permit me to list here all of the ways that these two had lead their nation away from the will of God, but suffice it to say that they were some evil people. However, their wicked influence did not just impact their own nation, as the southern kingdom of Judah was also affected by the evil that was spewing out of their neighbors from the north. It all started with a good Judaen king named Jehoshaphat who loved the Lord, but unfortunately also had an “affinity” to Ahab. Jehoshaphat and Ahab were friends, so much so that Jehoshaphat’s son, Joram, married Ahab’s daughter, Attaliah. Joram was not a godly man, choosing rather to follow the influence of his wife and father-in-law rather than follow the God of his father. King Joram and Attaliah had a son, Ahaziah, who became the king of Judah, and he was also an evil man. He met an untimely death at the hands of Jehu because of his association with Ahab’s family. When he died, his mother, Attaliah (Ahab’s daughter) seized control of Judah by slaughtering everyone else that would have a claim to the throne, and she actually reigned as queen for 7 years. However, one of the “seed royal”  of Judah was rescued from Attaliah’s attempted assassination, and was secretly protected and raised by Jehoiada the priest; and when Jehoram was old enough, he was revealed to the nation, and was annointed as king. Finally, a good king was back on the throne, and some of the influence from the family of Ahab could be reversed.

The people of Judah had gotten out of the will of God because they allowed an ungodly influence into their land, but now, under the leadership of King Jehoram and Jehoiada the priest, some great things could happen. In 2 Kings 11:17 a covenant was made between the king, the people, and the Lord; and this covenant declared that the people of Judah would once again be “the Lord’s people”, meaning that they were going to remove the influences that had previously pulled them out of the will of God, and they also were going to follow the principles contained in the Word of God.

Notice the results of this decision:

“And all the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was in quiet:” (2 Kings 11:20a)

God gave the people rejoicing and “quiet”, which means they were at peace. Praise the Lord. There was a time when our land enjoyed the peace (quiet) of God. I wish America would follow the example and admonition of Jehoiadah and Jehoram by ridding our land of the ungodly influences, and wholly following the Lord. Maybe then we could be “the Lord’s people” again as a nation, and could also have that wonderful peace that comes with it.


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He Should Have Quit While He Was Ahead

Today’s Reading – 2 Kings 20 – 22 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Luke 21 – 22Psalms 11 – 15Proverbs 3)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song –  Joshua 1:8

Read the “0503 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read a previous post from this passage – “Have You Found the Book

“In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.” (2 Kings 20:1)

1 Kings 20 tells us a very interesting story of the prophet Isaiah coming to King Hezekiah and announcing to him that he was about to die. Hezekiah is naturally distraught when he hears the news that his sickness will lead to his death. After all, he was only 39 years old. Who wants to die at 39? He then goes to the Lord and asks him to spare his life, and the Lord graciously adds to him another fifteen years; but I am not sure whether it was good for Hezekiah to spend that additional time on the earth. It may have been better for him, and for the nation had he gone home to Heaven when the Lord first called for him.

Consider three events that happened in the last fifteen years of Hezekiah’s life that would have not happened had he died at 39:

1  He had a son, named Manasseh, in the last 15 years of his life that turned out to be the most wicked king in Judah’s history.

“Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem: But did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, like unto the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel. … So Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen, whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel.” (2 Chronicles 33:1-2, 9)

2  He allowed the ambassadors from Babylon to come into Jerusalem, and he showed them all of the kingdom. Babylon would be the nation that would destroy Jerusalem later on, and they would take everything.

3  His heart became lifted up with pride:

“But Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him; for his heart was lifted up: therefore there was wrath upon him, and upon Judah and Jerusalem.” (2 Chronicles 32:25)

To be fair, I must point out that the Bible tells us that Hezekiah did humble himself after this, which would postpone the wrath that God had promised, but even though the judgment was postponed, it would still come, but not until after Hezekiah’s death.

Hezekiah was one of the greatest kings that Israel had in all of the history, but he would have been the greatest by far had his life ended at 39. The kingdom went downhill in the last 15 years.

I do not know how many years I have left, but I pray that I will be yielded to the will of the Lord for the remainder of my life. I want to finish my course by keeping the faith. I am not in a hurry to leave this earth, but when He calls for me, I want to be willing to go. I don’t want to go out fighting his will.


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Now You’ve Crossed the Line

Today’s Reading – 2 Kings 18 – 19 

(Second Milers Read – Luke 19 – 20; Psalms 6 – 10; Proverbs 2)

“Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD, saying, The LORD will surely deliver us, and this city shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria. … Hath any of the gods of the nations delivered at all his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria?” (2 Kings 18:30, 33 KJV)

“It may be the LORD thy God will hear all the words of Rabshakeh, whom the king of Assyria his master hath sent to reproach the living God; and will reprove the words which the LORD thy God hath heard: wherefore lift up thy prayer for the remnant that are left. … Because thy rage against me and thy tumult is come up into mine ears, therefore I will put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way by which thou camest.” (2 Kings 19:4, 28)

In chapters 18 and 19 of 2 Kings we see the city of Judah surrounded by the powerful army of Assyria, not just once, but twice. The first time they came up against Hezekiah and the city of Jerusalem, God caused the Assyrians to become distracted by news of an attack on them in another area, which forced them to temporarily pack up and leave. They soon returned, and once again promised to utterly destroy the city if the people did not surrender to them.

In a previous post on this passage, I focused on the fact that Hezekiah depended completely on the Lord for deliverance from this impossible situation, which God did. This morning, however, I wanted to consider another reason that God delivered the people of Jerusalem, and destroyed the army of Assyria. The Assyrian leader did not merely speak against the people of Jerusalem, he spake against the Lord. Rabshakeh basically said that his army was more powerful than Israel’s God. That’s where he crossed the line. Had he left God out of it, who knows what may have happened, but when Rabshakeh’s “rage” against the God of Israel was announced, God quickly moved in and destroyed him.

God destroyed the Assyrians, not only because of His love for His people, but also because of His own glory. God will not share His glory with anyone, and when the little men of the earth attempt to elevate and exalt themselves above God, He will put them in their place. Isn’t that what happened to Goliath (1 Samuel 17). He “cursed David by his gods”, and he challenged the God of Israel. God took out that giant with a boy and his slingshot. God does not like it when you mess with His children, but God will really get angry when you attack His glory.

“For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another.” (Isaiah 48:11)


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I Warned You!

Today’s Passage – 2 Kings 16 – 17 

(Second Milers Read – Luke 17 – 18; Psalms 1 – 5; Proverbs 1)

“Then the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years. In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. For so it was, that the children of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, which had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods,” (2 Kings 17:5-7)

In 2 Kings 17, we see the destruction of the city of Samaria along with the rest of the northern kingdom of Israel, and the carrying away of God’s people into the land of Assyria. God had warned the people literally for centuries that if they continued to reject Him and His Word, judgment would come. In this chapter we see that God’s patience with these northern tribes had finally come to an end. The warnings were over, and the punishment had finally come.

The passage goes on to explain the sins of the nation. So, God warned them many times not to do these things, and when they didn’t listen, God admonished them to stop and turn back to Him (v 13), but they did not listen (v 14), and then finally He punishes them through the nation of Assyria; and now, to be crystal clear, He explains why He was forced to punish them.

What were they guilty of?

1  They feared other gods (v7) – God was clear that the people were to put no other gods before Him (Exodus 20:3), but Israel had tolerated and even encouraged the worship of many false gods. Along with this are many of the other sins listed in this passage including idol / image worship; burning incense in the high places; etc.

2  They walked in the statues of the heathen. (v 8 ) God had given them moral, ceremonial, and civil statutes (laws) to follow, but instead they followed the laws of the heathen nations around them. Israel was set up as a theocracy – a nation governed by the laws of God, but they had thrown God off of the throne, and they were now governing themselves. The immoral customs of the heathen nations became the accepted practice of the day.

3  They sacrificed their own children. Children have a very special place in God’s heart, and when the nation began to promote the sacrifice of children (v 17), God became very angry with them (v 18).

The nation of Israel had everything they needed to live a blessed, prosperous existence in the land that God provided for them, but instead “they sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord” (v 17).

I wonder what God will do to America. We were a nation tremendously blessed of God, but we too have forsaken Him. We have thrown Him out of our schools and our government, and we have allowed all kinds of immoral filth to permeate our society. We have also promoted and tolerated the sacrificing of our own children. Over one million babies are sacrificed every year through the abominable practice of expedient abortions. God is warning our nation to repent, but His warnings are falling on deaf ears. I fear His patience is running out on us just as it ran out on Israel. Wake up America!


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Windows of Heaven

Today’s Passage – 2 Kings 7 – 9 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 11 – 12;  Proverbs 28Psalms 136 – 140

Scripture Memorization for March – John 1:1 – 18

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song –  Ephesians 4:32

Read a great article by Pastor Pastor Paul Chappell – How to Develop Friendships with Co-Laborers in the Ministry

Read the “0428 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“Then a lord on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God, and said, Behold, if the LORD would make windows in heaven, might this thing be? And he said, Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof.” (2 Kings 7:2)

In today’s passage we see the the city of Samaria surrounded by an overwhelming army of the Syrians.  This massive host from Syria had the city surrounded for some time, which caused the Israelites to run completely out of food on the inside of the city; with no way to get out to get more food.  Things got so bad the people were actually buying and selling dove’s dung to eat.  Some had even killed and ate children.  Pretty hopeless situation.

Along comes the man of God and tells them that at the same time the next day the situation would be reversed, so much so that food that was very expensive the previous day would be sold for next to nothing on the next day.  But one of the lords (princes) of Israel doubted the Word of God through the mouth of the prophet, and stated basically that this is impossible, even if God were to open the windows of heaven.

You can read the story for yourself; but God did exactly what he said he would do.  The Syrians heard the sound of chariots, and assumed that their enemies from Egypt or maybe the Hittites were coming to help Israel by attacking them.  They flee, leaving all of their food and goods behind.  Israel discovers that the Syrians have left, and they come out of the city and spoil the camp of the Syrians.

It looks like God truly opened up the windows of heaven.  We have a promise from the word of God regarding those same windows in heaven:

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” (Malachi 3:10)

God has promised us that if we will  keep him first in our lives that he will keep those windows open.  He doesn’t promise that we will all live in mansions on this earth and eat caviar; but praise the Lord, we won’t have to eat dove’s dung either.


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Choose Your Battles Wisely

Today’s Passage – 2 Kings 23 – 25

Second Milers also read – Luke 23 – 24; Psalms 16 – 20; Proverbs 4

Scripture Memory for May – Psalm 51

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – 1 John 4:7 & 8

“In his days Pharaohnechoh king of Egypt went up against the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates: and king Josiah went against him; and he slew him at Megiddo, when he had seen him.” – (2 Kings 23:29)

In order to make sense of the story referenced in 2 Kings 23:29 above, the parallel passage in 2 Chronicles 35:20 – 25 should be read also. In a nutshell, the two big dogs on the block during the time of Josiah are Egypt and Assyria. The Kingdom of Judah, which includes Jerusalem and its surrounding areas was nestled right in between these two world powers. Assyria  had already conquered the northern kingdom of Israel. Anyway, Egypt was travelling north to fight with Assyria at a place called Carchemesh on the Euphrates River. King Josiah from Judah, for some unknown reason, got in the middle of this battle, choosing to fight for the Assyrians against Egypt. 2 Chronicles tells us that the Pharaoh of Egypt warned Josiah not to interfere. Nowhere in Scripture does it say that God told Josiah to get involved. From all appearances it looks as if Josiah was killed because he involved himself in something that God never told him to be involved in. Josiah was a great king, but he got his priorities messed up here. The end result is that Josiah’s son takes control of Judah, and the Bible tells us that he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord.

I think that there is a great lesson for us to learn here. Sometimes we get ourselves in trouble when we interfere in things that God never told us to interfere with. We need to learn to do two things. First, we need to choose our battles carefully. Second, we need to learn to mind our own business at times. Now don’t misunderstand, sometimes God wants us to get involved in things that are not directly involving us, but when these times arise we need to make sure that it is truly God’s will for us to involve ourselves. When I look back at the ten years of my ministry here at Jersey Shore Baptist Church, I can now see in hindsight that there were many times that I got involved in things that God never told me to do. As a result, the church would lose focus, and harm would come. I am trying now to stay within the area that God has called me to. He has called me to pastor the people of Jersey Shore Baptist Church, and He has called me to get the message of the gospel to my community. Besides my responsibilities as a husband and father, those are my main duties. It is a big enough job by itself, so I don’t need to get mixed up in something that distracts me from those purposes. There are a lot of “good” causes out there to get involved in, but even a “good” cause can become sin, if it is not God’s will.

How about you? Do you ever find yourself getting sidetracked into an area that distracts you from what you know God wants you to do? Choose your battles wisely, mind your own business, and stay focused on the will of God for your life.

By the way, I want to also be careful to acknowledge that even though Josiah got mixed up in something he shouldn’t have; he was still a great king, and in my opinion the greatest king Judah ever had. Chapter 23 of our passage records all of the great things Josiah did in Judah and even in the northern kingdom, Israel. He worked tirelessly removing the evil that his predecessors had allowed to enter into the land.


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Selfish Attitude

Click on Scripture references below to listen to passages.

Today’s Passage – 2 Kings 20 – 22

Second Milers also read – Luke 21 – 22; Psalms 11 – 15; Proverbs 3

Scripture Memory for May – Psalm 51

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – 1 John 3:1

Read last year’s post from this passage – “Have You Found The Book?”

“Then said Hezekiah unto Isaiah, Good is the word of the LORD which thou hast spoken. And he said, Is it not good, if peace and truth be in my days?” – (2 Kings 20:19)

In our passage today we read about good King Hezekiah of Judah. Hezekiah was one of the greatest kings the southern kingdom ever had, and there is very little negative information recorded about him. He loved the Lord, and for the most part, he pleased God with the way he ruled. However, there has always been something about Hezekiah that has bothered me. In 2 Kings chapter 20, we read about Hezekiah being graciously granted an additional 15 years of life after initially being told by God that his life was going to end sooner. He may have been better off going home to Heaven when God originally told him he was going. Those last 15 years of Hezekiah’s life were not his best. It was in those last years that he had a son named Manassah who is recorded as being the worst king in Judah’s history. It was also in the last 15 years of his life that he allowed ambassadors from Babylon to come in to see his kingdom. These delegates from Babylon would bring back to their kingdom information that would eventually cause them to invade Judah and Jerusalem years later. Isaiah strongly rebukes Hezekiah for his lack of judgment in allowing these men to see everything in the kingdom, and Isaiah tells Hezekiah that a lot of horrible things were going to happen to Jerusalem in the future. Upon hearing the report, Hezekiah is actually glad because the bad things won’t start until after he is gone. That’s a pretty selfish attitude if you ask me.

We are a lot like Hezekiah. We make decisions that benefit ourselves, but they may have a negative impact on future generations. For instance, parents that neglect their worship and service of God set an example for their children that will probably cause them to move even further away from God. I have seen good Christian people who have lost their children and grandchildren to the world because they compromised their convictions when the kids were young. We have a responsibility to the next generation. I want my children and grandchildren to be more sold-out, and more in love with the Lord than I am. Before we make decisions that may make us a little more comfortable or happy in this generation, we need to consider the affect that it will have on future generations. Hezekiah forsook the future generations of his family, and all of Jerusalem, all because he wanted to receive a little flattery and praise from a visiting delegation of ambassadors from Babylon. Very foolish, and very selfish.


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Spread It Before The Lord

Today’s Passage – 2 Kings 18 – 19

Second Milers also read – Luke 19 – 20; Psalms 6 – 10; Proverbs 2

Scripture Memory for May – Psalm 53

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – 1 Timothy 1:17

Read – “Anti-Bullying Campaign Demeans Christians” by Pastor Chappell

“And it came to pass, when king Hezekiah heard it, that he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the LORD.” – (2 Kings 19:1)

“And Hezekiah received the letter of the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up into the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD.” – (2 Kings 19:14)

In our passage this morning in 2 Kings. we see the city of Jerusalem surrounded by the army from Assyria. Assyria had already conquered much of the known world at that time, including the northern kingdom of Israel, and Jerusalem in Judah certainly did not have the military strength to repel such a powerful force. Hezekiah, the King of Judah did what we all should do when we are faced with problems far bigger than our own human ability to solve: he went to the Lord. Notice in verse 1 above that Hezekiah went into the house of the Lord. That’s a good place to go to find answers, isn’t it. He then sent for the man of God, Isaiah. In this passage we can see a recipe that will help us in time of trouble. Go to God; go to God’s house; seek counsel from the man of God.

Notice in verse 14 above, the Assyrian’s are threatening again, and Hezekiah does the same thing that he did the first time. Why wouldn’t he? By the way, both times God delivers Jerusalem from the mighty Assyrians. The first time, God just lures them away from Jerusalem, but the second time He actually kills 185,000 of them. They should have quit while they were ahead.

So, what can we learn from this passage? When you are faced with questions and problems that are bigger than yourself, go to God. Look into the Bible for answers to your questions. Seek counsel from the men and women that God has placed in your life to help you. And whatever you do, do not forsake the house of God, when you are faced with problems. It very well may be that God will solve your problem there. The older I get, the more I realize that my life is bigger than my ability to live it right, and I find myself not knowing what to do often. I need God’s help. I need God’s wisdom. Our church is facing some decisions regarding what to do with our property and our parsonage. The men of the church will meet to discuss it, but what we really need is God’s wisdom. Our family is facing decisions regarding the future. We need God’s wisdom; God’s help. We need to spread these things before the Lord.

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” – (James 1:5 )


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Have It Your Way

Today’s Passage – 2 Kings 16 – 17

Second Milers also read – Luke 17 – 18; Psalms 1 – 5; Proverbs 1

Scripture Memory for May – Psalm 51

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Ephesians 4:32

“They feared the LORD, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence.” – (2 Kings 17:33)

Do you remember the old Burger King jingle and ad campaign, “Have It Your Way”. Years ago this company promoted the concept of having your burger custom designed any wany you desire. They inferred that the other fast-food burger places would only let you purchase their food the way they made it, and you could not “special order” a sandwich the way you wanted it. The ad campaign, I think, was very successful for Burger King. It has been over 30 years ago that they ran those ads, and I still remember them. The Burger King concept is a reflection of the American culture. We don’t want to be confined to a pre-determined menu. We want it our way. The Burger King concept may be a very good idea when it comes to selling fast food, but it will be a disaster for the church.

In our text we see in the land of Israel people from many nations. They had been placed there by the king of Assyria after he had removed the Israelites from the land. These foreigners faced opposition from God Himself when they first came in to inhabit the land (see 2 Kings 17:25), so they figured they had better do something to appease the God of Israel. The king of Assyria released one of the Israelite priests from captivity, and charged him to return to Israel and instruct the people in the proper worship of the God of Israel. The result was that these people incorporated God into their worship partially, but they still continued to worship their own gods, their way.

The New Testament tells us that in the end times there will be many that will do the same thing:

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” – (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

We are certainly living in the time that the Bible describes, and we have applied the Burger King philosophy to our worship of God. We pick and choose which doctrines on the menu that appeal to our tastes, and we create our own custom designed forms of worship and service. We have it wrong. This “seeker sensitive” generation of Christians needs to go back to the Bible and discover what is pleasing to the Lord, and then submit themselves to the menu that He has designed for them in His wisdom. God knows how to make our burgers better than we can. We had better let Him have it His way.


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He Gave Them A Saviour

Today’s Passage – 2 Kings 13 – 15

Second Milers also read – Luke 15 – 16; Psalms 146 – 150; Proverbs 30 – 31

Scripture Memory f or April – 1 Corinthians 13

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Matthew 6:33

“And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he delivered them into the hand of Hazael king of Syria, and into the hand of Benhadad the son of Hazael, all their days. And Jehoahaz besought the LORD, and the LORD hearkened unto him: for he saw the oppression of Israel, because the king of Syria oppressed them. (And the LORD gave Israel a saviour, so that they went out from under the hand of the Syrians: and the children of Israel dwelt in their tents, as beforetime.” – (2 Kings 13:3-5)

In our passage today we have the northern kingdom of Israel, which is a nation that had long ago abandoned the God that had brought them from bondage, and had given them a land of their own. They are lead by a king, Jehoahaz who the Bible describes as an evil man. Because of this nations wickedness, God sends judgment via the hand of the Syrians. However, in verse 4 something very interesting happens: this bad king, Jehoahaz, humbles himself before the Lord, and asks for the Lord’s help; and the Lord delivers Israel from the hand of their enemy.

What a marvelous picture we have here of the grace of the Lord. This nation and this king certainly did not deserve any help from the Lord; yet the Lord, in His mercy, delivered them anyway. This story reminds me of another story. I know a guy who is also a bad guy – a sinner; and he lives in a bad place – America: a nation that also has long ago abandoned the God that blessed them with their freedom and prosperity. Twenty-two years ago this evil guy I know recognizes his sinful condition, and the judgment that lies ahead for him in Hell; and he also humbles himself before the Lord, and calls upon Him for forgiveness. You know what? The Lord had mercy upon him too, and saved him. That guy’s name is Phil Erickson. He didn’t deserve then, and still doesn’t deserve now any consideration at all from a holy God; yet God saved him. What a God?

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” – (Romans 10:13)


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Housecleaning

Today’sPassage – 2 Kings 10 – 12

Second Milers also read – Luke 13 – 14; Psalms 141 – 150; Proverbs 29

“Thus Jehu destroyed Baal out of Israel.” – (2 Kings 10:28)

“And all the people of the land went into the house of Baal, and brake it down; his altars and his images brake they in pieces thoroughly, and slew Mattan the priest of Baal before the altars. And the priest appointed officers over the house of the LORD.” – (2 Kings 11:18)

In all three of the chapters from 2 Kings that we have read today we have seen a “housecleaning” of sorts. First we see Jehu of the northern kingdom of Israel in chapter 10. He slaughters all of the family of wicked King Ahab along with all of the prophets of Baal. Now I understand that when we read passages like this in the 21st Century, we tend to think that Jehu was way to cruel to the family of Ahab. However, it is important to realize that Ahab and his wife, Jezebel, had done more to cause God to be angry than any other king of Israel or Judah. They had filled the land with immorality and idolatry; they had repressed the true worshippers of God, and promoted the worship of Baal. Jehu was actually fulfilling the Word of God through the prophet Elijah when he said that the house of Ahab and Jezebel would be destroyed. (1 Kings 21:19, 21, 29)

Now when we get to chapters 11 and 12, we are in the southern kingdom of Judah. The king of Judah, Ahaziah, was also slain by Jehu in the northern kingdom back in chapter 9. Ahaziah was friends with the king of Israel, so he was guilty by association. Also, Ahaziah’s mother was the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel. So you see the wicked influence of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel of the northern kingdom had spread to the southern kingdom of Judah. By the way, it all started when the good king, Jehoshaphat, became friendly with Ahab. At any rate, by the time we get to 2 Kings 12, the southern kingdom of Judah is filled with the worship Baal, which needs to be exterminated from the land.

What we need to learn from all of this is that if we are not careful about living our lives separate from the world, we too will begin to allow all kinds of things that God is against. And what is worse, we will also set a poor example to our children who will most likely move even further away from God than we do. I do not believe that King Jehoshaphat would be pleased with what happened to his nation in the next couple of generations, but in reality, he was the one who started it all by getting too cozy with people who hated God and God’s prophets.

Consider some New Testament verses about separation:

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” – (2 Corinthians 6:14)

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” – (1 John 2:15)

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,” – (2 Corinthians 6:17)

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” – (Romans 12:2)

I do not believe these verses teach that we should isolate ourselves from the world. Jesus said we are to be in the world but not of the world. Our presence as Christians in this world is really for the purpose of God’s glorification. We are to make God look good to the world through our lives. When we allow the world to conform us into its image rather than us influencing the world, we are no longer glorifying God. Remember, Christian, you are the one who knows the truth. Don’t let the vain philosophies of this world somehow cause you to doubt that truth. I think if we would be completely honest with ourselves, we would have to admit that we have all allowed too much of the dirt of the world to creep into our lives. Maybe its time for us to do a little housecleaning. Just a thought.


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God Will Take Care of You

Today’s Passage – 2 Kings 4 – 5, 2 Kings 6

Second Milers also read – Luke 9 – 10; Psalm 131 – 135; Proverbs 27

Scripture Memory for April – 1 Corinthians 13

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Micah 6:8

Read last years post from this passage – “Lean Not Unto Thine Own Understanding”

“Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets unto Elisha, saying, Thy servant my husband is dead; and thou knowest that thy servant did fear the LORD: and the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen. … Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children of the rest.” – (2 Kings 4:1, 7)

There are some mornings when I have a difficult time finding something interesting to write about from the Scripture reading for the day. However, the three chapters that we have read this morning from 2 Kings 4 – 6 are full of exciting stories from the life of Elisha. I have chosen this morning to consider the story of the widow woman who was miraculous provided for by God. The story is found in 2 Kings 4: 1 – 7, and speaks of a woman was the wife of one of the prophets, and was now left alone to care for her two sons. She has nothing left but a pot of oil in her house. The creditors are bearing down on her, and want to take her two sons as bondmen in order to repay a debt that is owed them. She comes to the man of God for help, and he instructs her to borrow vessels from her neighbors that will hold oil. Elisha takes the little bit of oil that she has and pours it into the other containers that the woman borrowed from her neighbors. The oil did not run out until all of the vessels were filled, which she was then able to go and sell so that she would be able to pay the debt that she owed.

There are two thoughts that I would like to pull from this passage. The first involves debt. The Scripture says, “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” – (Proverbs 22:7). The passage does not give us any of the details regarding the reason why this woman was in debt. It may have been a debt that she inherited from her dead husband. Anyway, she has a debt that is causing her a lot of trouble. I got to thinking about what kind of financial situation my wife would be in if I passed away suddenly today. I would leave her with the burden of some debt. We are in the process of making some changes to our financial decisions so that all of our debt would be eliminated. I would not want to leave my wife with the kind of pressure this woman had to face.

My second thought from this passage is that God took care of this lady who had given her life to serve Him. She was the wife of one of the prophets, and prophets lived by faith. They had no doubt made many financial sacrifices in the process of serving the Lord. I understand a little about what she is going through. When we sold our house, and packed up our stuff and headed for Bible college, we knew that we were entering a journey of faith and sacrifice. We have had to live without a lot of things throughout the years; but one of the things that we have had to do away with was insurance. Since we have been in the ministry, we have been unable to afford health insurance or life insurance. I know that this is not good stewardship, but when you are forced to choose between food on the table or an insurance policy to protect you from something that may or may not happen, you can see why we might go uninsured. This is a great source of worry for my wife particularly. However, this passage reminds us that even though we may not be the best financial planners, God takes care of those that have given their life in service for Him. He will take care of my family. Don’t misunderstand, someday I want to be able to provide some of these comforting benefits like insurance for my family; but for now, I know that God has got my family’s back.

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” – (Matthew 6:33)


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Commit Thou To Faithful Men

Today’s Passage – 2 Kings 1 – 3

Second Milers also read – Luke 7 – 8; Psalm 126 – 130; Proverbs 26

Scripture memory for April – 1 Corinthians 13

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Proverbs 27:15

“And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.” – (2 Kings 2:9)

In chapter 2 of 2 Kings we see the account of Elijah, the mighty prophet of God being translated by God up into Heaven.  Can you imagine what it must have been like for Elijah, and even for the people who witnessed it, to see the chariot of fire come down to pick him up.  Wow!  Before Elijah left, however, he passed his mantle (garment, robe) to Elisha and with the mantle came a “double portion of [Elijah’s] spirit”.

I have a couple thoughts regarding this transition.  First I think that it is a marvelous thing that Elijah took the time to diligently mentor young Elisha.  He did not just teach him, he demonstrated through his life a man that knew God, walked with God, and was greatly used of God.  He made serving God look good.

Secondly, I think about Elisha who did not squander the training and the mentoring he received from Elijah.  He took the foundation that was given him and he used it and built upon it.  I haven’t checked it myself, but I’ve heard other preachers say that Elisha performed twice the number of recorded miracles than did Elijah.

I remember as a young Christian there were men who took time to mentor me.  There were actually many men that had a part in my training, but one man stands out above all of the rest.  Pastor Rick Wedemeyer spent time with me.  He was very patient with me.  He let me get close to him; he let me see first hand the love he had for his Lord, his family and for the people of his church.  He still is a great friend and counselor to me today.  I wonder if some young Christian will say some day about me that I was a great mentor to them.  I hope so.  Why don’t you find someone, maybe a new convert, maybe a kid on the bus; and pour your life into him.  Now this is going to cost you some time and you might want to straighten yourself out first as you wouldn’t want to be the wrong kind of influence; but if you’re willing to do this, your life will continue to live on through the person you mentor after your gone.

And you young Christians:  why don’t you find some older, spiritual saint of God, and latch on to him for a while, and take what he gives you and give it to the next generation.

“And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2)


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Choose Your Battles Wisely

Today’s Passage – 2 Kings 23 – 25; Proverbs 4

(Second Milers also read – Luke 23 – 24; Memorize Ephesians 4:29)

“In his days Pharaohnechoh king of Egypt went up against the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates: and king Josiah went against him; and he slew him at Megiddo, when he had seen him.” – (2 Kings 23:29)

In order to make sense of the story referenced in 2 Kings 23:29 above, the parallel passage in 2 Chronicles 35:20 – 25 should be read also. In a nutshell, the two big dogs on the block during the time of Josiah are Egypt and Assyria. The Kingdom of Judah, which includes Jerusalem and its surrounding areas was nestled right in between these two world powers. Assyria  had already conquered the northern kingdom of Israel. Anyway, Egypt was travelling north to fight with Assyria at a place called Carchemesh on the Euphrates River. King Josiah from Judah, for some unknown reason, got in the middle of this battle, choosing to fight for the Assyrians against Egypt. 2 Chronicles tells us that the Pharaoh of Egypt warned Josiah not to interfere. Nowhere in Scripture does it say that God told Josiah to get involved. From all appearances it looks as if Josiah was killed because he involved himself in something that God never told him to be involved in. Josiah was a great king, but he got his priorities messed up here. The end result is that Josiah’s son takes control of Judah, and the Bible tells us that he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord.

I think that there is a great lesson for us to learn here. Sometimes we get ourselves in trouble when we interfere in things that God never told us to interfere with. We need to learn to do two things. First, we need to choose our battles carefully. Second, we need to learn to mind our own business at times. Now don’t misunderstand, sometimes God wants us to get involved in things that are not directly involving us, but when these times arise we need to make sure that it is truly God’s will for us to involve ourselves. When I look back at the ten years of my ministry here at Jersey Shore Baptist Church, I can now see in hindsight that there were many times that I got involved in things that God never told me to do. As a result, the church would lose focus, and harm would come. I am trying now to stay within the area that God has called me to. He has called me to pastor the people of Jersey Shore Baptist Church, and He has called me to get the message of the gospel to my community. Besides my responsibilities as a husband and father, those are my main duties. It is a big enough job by itself, so I don’t need to get mixed up in something that distracts me from those purposes. There are a lot of “good” causes out there to get involved in, but even a “good” cause can become sin, if it is not God’s will.

How about you? Do you ever find yourself getting sidetracked into an area that distracts you from what you know God wants you to do? Choose your battles wisely, mind your own business, and stay focused on the will of God for your life.


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Spread It Before the Lord

Today’s Passage – 2 Kings 18 – 19; Proverbs 2

(Second Milers also read – Luke 19 – 20; Memorize Ephesians 4:29)

“And it came to pass, when king Hezekiah heard it, that he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the LORD.” – (2 Kings 19:1)

“And Hezekiah received the letter of the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up into the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD.” – (2 Kings 19:14)

In our passage this morning in 2 Kings. we see the city of Jerusalem surrounded by the army of the nation of Assyria. Assyria had already conquered much of the known world at that time, including the northern kingdom of Israel, and Jerusalem in Judah certainly did not have the military strength to repel such a powerful force. Hezekiah, the King of Judah did what we all should do when we are faced with problems far bigger than our own human ability to solve: he went to the Lord. Notice in verse 1 above that Hezekiah went into the house of the Lord. That’s a good place to go to find answers, isn’t it. He then sent for the man of God, Isaiah. In this passage we can see a recipe that will help us in time of trouble. Go to God; go to God’s house; seek counsel from the man of God.

Notice in verse 14 above, the Assyrian’s are threatening again, and Hezekiah does the same thing that he did the first time. Why wouldn’t he? By the way, both times God delivers Jerusalem from the mighty Assyrians. The first time, God just lures them away from Jerusalem, but the second time He actually kills 185,000 of them. They should have quit while they were ahead.

So, what can we learn from this passage? When you are faced with questions and problems that are bigger than yourself, go to God. Look into the Bible for answers to your questions. Seek counsel from the men and women that God has placed in your life to help you. And whatever you do, do not forsake the house of God, when you are faced with problems. It very well may be that God will solve your problem there.


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Clean House

Today’s Passage – 2 Kings 10-12; Proverbs 29

(Second Milers also read – Luke 13 – 14; Memorize John 11:25 – 26)

“Thus Jehu destroyed Baal out of Israel.” – (2 Kings 10:28)

“And all the people of the land went into the house of Baal, and brake it down; his altars and his images brake they in pieces thoroughly, and slew Mattan the priest of Baal before the altars. And the priest appointed officers over the house of the LORD.” – (2 Kings 11:18)

In all three of the chapters from 2 Kings that we have read today we have seen a “housecleaning” of sorts. First we see Jehu of the northern kingdom of Israel in chapter 10. He slaughters all of the family of wicked King Ahab along with all of the prophets of Baal. Now I understand that when we read passages like this in the 21st Century, we tend to think that Jehu was way to cruel to the family of Ahab. However, it is important to realize that Ahab and his wife, Jezebel, had done more to cause God to be angry than any other king of Israel or Judah. They had filled the land with immorality and idolatry; they had repressed the true worshippers of God, and promoted the worship of Baal. Jehu was actually fulfilling the Word of God through the prophet Elijah when he said that the house of Ahab and Jezebel would be destroyed. (1 Kings 21:19, 21, 29)

Now when we get to chapters 11 and 12, we are in the southern kingdom of Judah. The king of Judah, Ahaziah, was also slain by Jehu in the northern kingdom back in chapter 9. Ahaziah was friends with the king of Israel, so he was guilty by association. Also, Ahaziah’s mother was the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel. So you see the wicked influence of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel of the northern kingdom had spread to the southern kingdom of Judah. By the way, it all started when the good king, Jehoshaphat, became friendly with Ahab. At any rate, by the time we get to 2 Kings 12, the southern kingdom of Judah is filled with the worship Baal, which needs to be exterminated from the land.

What we need to learn from all of this is that if we are not careful about living our lives separate from the world, we too will begin to allow all kinds of things that God is against. And what is worse, we will also set a poor example to our children who will most likely move even further away from God than we do. I do not believe that King Jehoshaphat would be pleased with what happened to his nation in the next couple of generations, but in reality, he was the one who started all by getting too cozy with people who hated God, and God’s prophets.

Consider some New Testament verses about separation:

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” – (2 Corinthians 6:14)

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” – (1 John 2:15)

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,” – (2 Corinthians 6:17)

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” – (Romans 12:2)

I do not believe that these verses teach that we should isolate ourselves from the world. Jesus said that we are to be in the world but not of the world. Our presence as Christians in this world is really for the purpose that we may glorify God. We are to make God look good to the world through our lives. When we allow the world to conform us into its image rather than us influencing the world, we are no longer glorifying God. Remember, Christian, you are the one who knows the truth. Don’t let the vain philosophies of this world somehow cause you to doubt that truth. I think if we would be completely honest with ourselves, we would have to admit that we have all allowed too much of the dirt of the world to creep into our lives. Maybe its time for us to do a little housecleaning. Just a thought.


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Windows in Heaven

Today’s Passage – 2 Kings 7 – 9; Proverbs 28

(Second Milers also read Luke 11 – 12; Memorize John 11:25 – 26)

“Then a lord on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God, and said, Behold, if the LORD would make windows in heaven, might this thing be? And he said, Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof.” (2 Kings 7:2)

In today’s passage we see the the city of Samaria surrounded by an overwhelming army of the Syrians.  This massive host from Syria had the city surrounded for some time, which caused the Israelites to run completely out of food on the inside of the city; with no way to get out to get more food.  Things got so bad the people were actually buying and selling dove’s dung to eat.  Some had even killed and ate children.  Pretty hopeless situation.

Along comes the man of God and tells them that at the same time the next day the situation would be reversed, so much so that food that was very expensive the previous day would be sold for next to nothing on the next day.  But one of the lords (princes) of Israel doubted the Word of God through the mouth of the prophet, and stated basically that this is impossible, even if God were to open the windows of heaven.

You can read the story for yourself; but God did exactly what he said he would do.  The Syrians heard the sound of chariots, and assumed that their enemies from Egypt or maybe the Hittites were coming to help Israel by attacking them.  They flee, leaving all of their food and goods behind.  Israel discovers that the Syrians have left, and they come out of the city and spoil the camp of the Syrians.

It looks like God truly opened up the windows of heaven.  We have a promise from the word of God regarding those same windows in heaven:

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” (Malachi 3:10)

God has promised us that if we will  keep him first in our lives that he will keep those windows open.  He doesn’t promise that we will all live in mansions on this earth and eat caviar; but praise the Lord, we won’t have to eat dove’s dung either.


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Lean Not Unto Your Own Understanding

Today’s Passage – 2 Kinggs 4 – 6; Proverbs 27

(Second Milers also read Luke 9 – 10; Memorize John 11:25 – 26)

“But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage. And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?” – (2 Kings 5:11-13)

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” – (Proverbs 3:5-6)

In chapter five of 2 Kings, we see the captain of the host of the nation of Syria is diseased with leprosy. He is told that there is a man of God in Israel that might be able to heal him, so he goes with his servants to Israel to see Elisha, the man of God. When he gets there, Elisha does not even come out of his house to meet the man personally, but instead sends a messenger which tells Naaman to dip himself seven times in the Jordan River. Naaman becomes furious for two reasons: first, he thinks the solution is too simple. It was not what he expected from a man of God. He thought that Elisha would have performed some elaborate religious ritual or something. Secondly, Naaman figures that if it is only a matter of washing, he could just as easily have stayed in Syria. He felt that the rivers in Syria were far superior to the river Jordan in Israel anyway.

This story illustrates how we tend to think as humans. Often times we come to God with a problem, and we already have a pre-conceived idea in our mind of how that problem is going to be fixed. However, many times God will fix it in a way that is foreign to our understanding, and we will rebel against it. Sometimes when we go for counsel, we look for someone who will tell us what we want to hear, rather that what we need to hear. God’s ways are not our ways. He does what He wants, not what we want Him to do. By the way, there was nothing special about the water in the Jordan river. The healing came from God, and because Naaman finally believed God and did what God had told him to do.

I have added a link to last year’s post on this passage, “Open My Eyes”. My thought from last year was from chapter 6.  http://pastorerickson.com/?p=177


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