Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My life makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble and afflicted hear and be glad.”
Psalm 34: 1, 2
“I heard a bird at break of day
Sing from the autumn trees
A song so musical and calm,
So full of certainties.
No (one), I think, could listen long
Except upon (their) knees,
Yet this was but a simple bird
Alone among dead trees.”
Today’s Study Text:
“And Jehoshaphat reigned over Judah: he was thirty and five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty and five years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi. And he (Jehoshaphat) walked in the way of Asa his father, and departed not from it, doing that which was right in the sight of the Lord. How beit the high places were not taken away: for as yet the people had not prepared their hearts unto the God of their fathers.”
II Chronicles 20: 31 - 33
“Life Lessons Learned From King Jehoshaphat”
“God has never had a people who were at the mercy of circumstances. His wisdom always anticipates hell’s worst and provides for heaven’s best. So it is with high confidence that we may look to Him, notwithstanding the bleakness of the present scene surrounding us.”
What challenge is in front of me right now that has stretched my faith to the limit, at least that’s how I feel?
As I review my past, what specific events stand out as heaven’s “rescue marks” in my life?
“Sometimes when you are going forward spiritually, you go backwards in the natural because when our natural circumstances don’t suit us, that’s when we press in spiritually with God.”
“Overcoming Fear With Faith”
“Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives is the perfect preparation for the future that only He can see.”
Corrie ten Boom
It has often been said that history repeats itself. And as you read through past documents which leave a record of times long-gone, one would clearly agree with this conclusion.
I personally like the way the writer, Grace King expresses the concept of a repetitive historical chronicle when she observes that, “the history of one is the history of all.”
This is a view which I would like you to wrap your mind around for a moment as we look backwards at the two stories we have studied over the last couple weeks, first in II Kings 3 and second in II Chronicles 20. One thing I’ve found as we have studied God’s Word, beginning in the book of Genesis, is that the Bible is a record of events that indeed seem to be repeated.
It is my humble opinion, that God in His infinite wisdom wants us to take note and recognize the fact that if we don’t learn from past mistakes as well as the past successes of others as well as ourselves, that we are very likely to commit the same errors and miss out on climbing toward heavenly success.
Right now I happen to be involved in a family upheaval, not unlike what some of you have shared with me, where “antics,” as I call them, which are woven into the behavior of individuals who died many years ago, are rising from the ashes in subsequent generations. As I said to my husband Jim the other day, “If I ever act like ‘that,’ please bring it to my attention immediately.”
As we review the lives and behavior found in two sets of three kings and kingdoms, I’d like to offer the viewpoint so uniquely expressed by one of my favorite 21st century poets, Maya Angelou:
“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, and if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”
These words, when lived out in real life, can certainly help in family situations where a repeated historical journey, that mirrors the hurt caused and inflicted from one generation to another, only serves to leave wounds of indescribable depth. And it is these open sores or visible scars that so many of you write me about on a daily basis as you reach out to grasp the healing hand of your heavenly Father through the united prayers of Garden friends around the world.
But it is not only in our families that we find the repetitive forces of history at work, it is also in our spiritual history.
I bring this to your attention for the other day I was reading an article in a respected Christian magazine that told of a “new” revival. The author likened this “new” event to a working of the Holy Spirit a number of years ago. As I read this report, I asked myself a series of questions, “Why is it that the affects of the last revival seemed to diminish with time? Why don’t we continue on an upward path? Why does the spiritual life often have its ups and downs? Why does history repeat itself in the spiritual arena by a series of highs and lows?”
Have you ever asked yourself these same questions? If so, what has been the conclusion that you have come to?
As I’ve pondered the stories in Scripture, especially during the past few weeks as we have studied about King Jehoram, King Jehoshaphat and the King of Edom, the first set of three kings and next the triple threat from the kingdoms of Ammon, Moab and the people of Mount Seir, I have discovered that if you and I would like to live our future, walking in a pathway laid out by our heavenly Father, in order not to repeat the same mistakes of the past, we should take a close look at the errors committed by those whose record God has left, not only our encouragement, but also our admonition, or as the Apostle Paul told his Christian friends in Corinth, the written instruction by God, of Israel’s past history, was given “as an example to admonish and fit us for right action by good instruction.” Just to be clear, in the Greek, the word admonish means to have an “understanding mind that comprehends a warning or a caution.” I really like the Greek use of the word “caution” in reference to admonition. Often the phrase “to admonish” sounds like someone in authority who comes to the conclusion that their only job is to inform you how imperfect and flawed you are. Well, in God’s world of heavenly advice, I’d like to propose that His wonderful words of admonishment are like a yellow caution light, effectively letting us know that we need to slow down and survey the landscape around us, for there’s something we can learn from the scenery around us and certainly in God’s Word – the Bible.
As I reflected on the lives of the three kings and the three kingdoms, I found three over-riding lessons which I’ve learned from II Kings 3 and II Chronicles 20.
Lesson #1: Don’t enter the battle unprepared. Being prepared doesn’t mean I’m armed with swords and spears. We find that in the Garden of Gethsemane, when a mob came after Jesus, that as soon as Peter pulled out a sword and used it in defense, Jesus instructed him to, “put your sword away.” The planning I’m talking about is when we go to Jesus to ask for His help before we step one foot into the battle. We look to heaven first. And this leads me to the second lesson.
Lesson #2:Reliance on the efforts of other humans may lead us directly into a wilderness, without God’s help. When King Jehoshaphat hooked up with the out-of-touch King Jehoram and the King of Edom, their human wisdom took him into a desert place where there was no water. Interestingly enough, when King Jehoshaphat was later lead by God into the wilderness of Tekoa, there was a completely different outcome for God was the leader of this expedition from the first.
Lesson #3:When I follow God, the result will be that I will have rest within my heart – even when the way is long and difficult. You see, the peace we long for is often what we think comes from the world, plenty of money, success, and honor. Jesus, however, informed His’ disciples that His everlasting peace is not what the world gives. Instead, it is the quiet confidence of knowing I’m doing my Father’s will.
Three kings, three nations, three lessons. As the story of King Jehoshaphat ends, the Bible saya, “He did that which was right in the sight of the Lord” (II Chronicles 20: 32, K.J.V.). May the same be said of us – lessons learned, she did right in the sight of the Lord, no matter what circumstances she faced.
“Almighty and eternal God, the Disposer of all the affairs of the world, there is not one circumstance so great as not to be subject to Thy power, not so small but it comes within Thy care.”
(1665 - 1714)
“Almighty God, Sustainer:
Sun behind all suns,
Soul behind all souls,
everlasting reconciler of our
show to us in everything we
touch and in everyone we meet
the continued assurance of Thy
presence round us:
lest ever we should think Thee absent.
In all created things Thou art here.
In every friend we have the sunshine
of Thy presence is shown forth.
In every enemy that seems to
cross our path,
Thou art there within the cloud
to challenge us to love.
Show to us the glory in the gray.
Awake for us Thy presence in the
very storm till all our joys are
seen as Thee
And all our trivial tasks emerge
as priestly sacraments in the
universal temple of Thy love.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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