Today's Text and Thought of Encouragement:
"If any (woman) will come after me, let (her) take up (her) cross daily and follow me."
"I do not ask my cross to understand,
My way to see;
Better in the darkness just to feel thy hand
And follow Thee."
Today's Study Text:
"At that time Abijah, the son of Jeroboam, fell sick. And Jeroboam said to his wife, ‘Arise, I pray thee, and disguise thyself, that thou be not known to be the wife of Jeroboam; and get thee to Shiloh: behold, there is Ahijah the prophet, which told me that I should be king over the people. And take with thee 10 loaves, and cracknels, and a cruse of honey, and go to him: he shall tell thee what shall become of the child.’"
1 Kings 14:1 -3
"Commitment or Compromise" – Part II
"An On-Call God”
"Our laziness after God is our crying sin… no (person) gets God who does not follow hard after Him."
E. M. Bounds
How frequently and with what persistence do I seek after God?
"There may be persons who can always glide along like a tramcar on rails without a solitary jerk, but I find that I have a vile nature to contend with, and spiritual life is a struggle with me. I have to fight from day to day with inbred corruption, coldness, deadness, barrenness, and if it were not for my Lord Jesus Christ my heart would be as dry as the heart of the damned."
Charles Haddon Spurgeon
INSPIRATION: "Life's greatest tragedy is to lose God and not to miss Him."
F. W. Norwood
Our story today is a tragic one. At first glance, it appeared to me that the situation was a reflection of the lack of spirituality which Jeroboam exhibited as king of Israel, and this is partially true. His lackluster leadership, when it came to pointing the people under his rule toward God, was greatly lacking, even in his own home. As our study text tells us in 1 Kings 14:1, Jeroboam's son became ill. Here is where, with thoughtful study, we uncover the serious problem that came with the "new worship" of two golden calves which introduced a substitute God that was honored in Dan and Bethel. I like the name which Dale Ralph Davis gives to the false religion promoted by Jeroboam. He calls the worship "neobovine" -- new cows -- gold cows. And it was this attempt to intermingle the sacred with the profane which led Israel down a path to utter destruction. However, before we get ahead of ourselves, we need to get to the heart of today's story and it is the fact that when Jeroboam's son became very sick, the king was so concerned that he thought his child might die. We have to remember that having a son meant the ruling lineage would continue -- so Jeroboam's anxiety was likely two-fold. I'm certain he loved his son dearly and longed for him to return to health. But he also wanted to ensure, as any monarch in his position would, that the "House of Jeroboam" would not end abruptly with the untimely death of his heir.
Wanting to get some insight into the future, unlike King Saul who chose to get advice from the "woman of Endor," a woman known to communicate with dead spirits, Jeroboam decided he would seek the advice of the prophet Ahijah, who had predicted that Jeroboam would ascend to the throne of Israel. This prophecy came true. Thus, having previously obtained a "good" prophetic word from Ahijah before, Jeroboam hoped that the same positive message would be forth-coming again.
But here's the catch. It seems that Jeroboam, down deep in his heart, knew that his spiritual life was not on-track!
This fact obviously made him fearful that if the prophet Ahijah knew who was asking about his son's health, he might connect his prophecy to Jeroboam’s spiritual downfall. This information alone gives us a great deal of perception into the lack of understanding Jeroboam had about the God of heaven and earth -- Jehovah.
What is factual is that the prophet Ahijah would tell the truth, be it good or bad. And God would not tailor His message based on anything that Jeroboam tried to do to take this situation into his own hands. Yet, what we find is that Jeroboam still thought he needed to devise a strategy to get God to do or in this case, say, what he wanted to hear.
When we unwrap all the layers in the story, we find at the center the reality that when Jeroboam decided the god in his life was going to be two golden calves, he basically told Jehovah, “I’ll call you only when I think I need you.” Jeroboam was going to use God as what I'll describe as an, “on-call" God. I think you'll understand exactly what I mean, for as much as I hate to admit it, I've tried to use God in the same way myself.
Here's what the "on-call" God is good for. You get in a tough spot, can't think of anybody else to assist you. Time to get the "on-call" God on the line. I speak from experience as a nurse where "on-call" physicians were available to help out when a patient's regular physician was out-of-town or was too busy to see the patient or -- and here's a good one -- when the crisis was so severe, you needed to "call in the big guns," as we'd like to say.
When Jeroboam’s son became sick, it was time to call in the big guns -- and it was the prophet Ahijah who popped-up in Jeroboam's thoughts. At least the king was hoping this man had a connection with God. Because Jeroboam certainly didn't.
However, in order to pull off his little plot, Jeroboam got his wife involved and had her dress in a disguise. I guess he thought if a supposed stranger went to the prophet's house, maybe that individual would be met with a better reception than if Jeroboam came riding up in the king's chariot.
Schemes, plots, strategies -- all of this was devised by Jeroboam to get God's attention because rather than persevering on a daily basis to have a relationship with God, Jeroboam decided to make up a "religion" of his own. He had come to the conclusion that a do-it-yourself spiritual life was easier and more convenient.
The Apostle Paul, in his letter to young Timothy reminded him that the struggle we all face daily in our spiritual lives is a "battle." Paul encouraged Timothy to "fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life" (1 Timothy 6:12, KJV). As pastor Warren Wierabe so distinctly states: "The Christian life is not a playground; it is a battleground." And this is why an “on-call” only God will not do. We need a daily, moment-by-moment relationship with our heavenly Father, not a relationship that says, "I'm in trouble help me now."
I love this poem, written by John Samuel Bewley Monsell:
"Fight the good fight with all thy might;
Christ is thy strength, and Christ by right;
Lay hold on life, and it shall be
Thy joy and crown eternally."
At the beginning of today's devotional, there is a quote from Charles Haddon Spurgeon, a man whom I admire as a spiritual giant. What many people do not know is that during his life, both he and his wife faced many difficult physical challenges. As he stated, the spiritual battle in his life was also very tough. Often, when we read about a great preacher like Pastor Spurgeon, we are quick to surmise that their daily, committed devotion to God was something which came easy to them. As you read his words, you'll find that for each of us, the spiritual warfare is one that requires dedication and perseverance. In the words of Samuel Rutherford: "I exhort you and beseech you in the compassion of Christ, faint not, weary not. There is a great necessity of heaven, you must have it. Think it not easy; for it is a steep ascent."
"My God, I will put myself without reserve into Your hands.
What have I in heaven, and apart from You what do I want upon earth?
My flesh and my heart fail, but God is the God of my heart, and my portion forever."
John Henry Newman
"My soul is Yours and must live only through You.
My will is yours, and must love only for You.
I must love You as my first cause, I am from You.
I must love You as my goal and rest, since I am for You.
I must love You more than my own being, since my being comes from You.
I must love You more than myself, since I am all Yours and all in You. AMEN.”
Francis de Sales
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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