Destroy them all…

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Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 9.55.48 AMI love coke. The real thing. A cold can of coke. I don’t buy coke or keep it in the house on a regular basis because I will drink it and I don’t want to. I know myself and I know it is better if I don’t keep it in the house in the first place. My ability to say “no” when it is here is tested too often, and I eventually give in to the temptation.

That’s pretty much the way sin also works. It tempts us. If we keep it around long enough, we will eventually fall. The Israelites’ king, Hezekiah, apparently recognized this danger too. Today in Chronicles, the king is restoring worship and starting to celebrate passover again. In doing this,  Hezekiah destroyed all the “things” that had been in the land for pagan worship. Why? They would have been a temptation. The people did desire to turn back to God, but if their idols and pagan alters were still there everyday for them to walk by, look at, eventually, they would have turned back to them.

Now, you and I probably can’t imagine that-a pagan alter tempting us in any way? But, you have heard enough devotions, chapels and sermons on idols to know we still have them. They just take on a different form. An idol is really just anything that draws you away from God OR is more important to you than God. So now what comes to mind? For me, it is immediately the iPhone. This very well is an idol in my life. And just like the pagan idols or the coke-I have to put it away when I am doing devotions, when I am going to bed, at church, or when I am spending time with friends. I am trying to figure out a way to get it out of my room at night, so I am not tempted to be on it instead of sleeping. It will take physical action on my part to consciously keep that idol away or I am just setting myself up for a fall.

How about you? What is your idol? What is the thing you need to destroy or move, so it is not constantly tempting you? Is it an app? is it a game? Is it a “thing” in your room? We are all hopefully striving to walk closer with God, and walk “towards” Him-but our “success rate” and walk with Him will be greatly hampered, if we are not also physically removing those things that draw us away from Him on a daily basis!

Learn to “Yield”

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Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 9.36.38 AMAaron will be learning to drive in a few years. One of the things he will learn is what “yield” means. For driving, it means letting the driver you are yielding to go first, or have their way. Yielding spiritually means the same thing-and it too, is something we all need to learn.
Spiritually speaking-we have two basic responses to God when we are faced with a situation-either we will do it our way, or the way prescribed by God. It is like two cars coming to the same point. One will have to yield to the other-both can not possibly go at the same time.

I particularly like the way it is put in today’s Scripture-here God spells out the two responses: Either we are ‘stiff-necked’ or ‘yield to the Lord’. Think about it. Think about the last choice you had to make where you knew it was a choice between doing it “your” way or God’s. For me, the first thing that comes to mind is when I am about to say something to a friend and the Holy Spirit VERY quietly prompts me to hold off. I have about a split second to decide if I am going to be “stiff-necked” and say it anyway-or yield to the prompting. I only get one chance…and my decision is made. How about you?

Learn to yield to the Lord daily. This is what the Christian walk is-creating the habit of consistently yielding to God, instead of being stiff-necked. Just as in driving, God knows that when we yield to Him, many dangerous accidents will be avoided!

Uzziah’s fatal flaw

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Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 10.44.33 AMAaron is getting pretty strong these days-even Gege noticed when she was here. He works out often, and puts a lot into it. This will naturally, be a big help in football and all sports. It is a good thing, but he will need to be careful of one danger-and it is mentioned in today’s Scripture. Pride.

There will be a temptation as Aaron gets stronger, to become prideful about it. To make it “all about him” so to speak. And it is not just Aaron who is susceptible to this-we all are.  It is also not just “physical strength” which will carry the danger of pride-but any and all strengths. Any area you or I are gifted in or are “strong” in. Perhaps for me, it could be in technology. For Miriam, maybe sports or leadership. Perhaps for Jordan it is in the area of academics. The temptation is to take the gifts God has given us and then to take pride in them ourselves. The ultimate danger in this? Destruction.

We are all probably familiar with Proverbs 16:18, “Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.” Today’s Scripture illustrates the same thing. King Uzziah did a good job…until he became prideful. And then his pride destroyed him.

How can pride “destroy” us? Take any of the recent professional sports players who have gotten in trouble with the law-they thought they were “untouchable” because they were so great. It was a lie. Perhaps you might think you have it all “figured” out. Pride tends to push us away from sound advice, and instead, we assume we know what is best. Pride may make us take a dangerous dare, assuming we won’t get hurt-only to find out that is not true as we are laying in bed injured.

Pride will always leave a path of destruction behind it. What can we do to prevent walking that path? Consider our strengths. Pray that God keeps you from taking pride in them. Give thanks OFTEN for these gifts and seek ways you can serve Him with them. Continue to work hard to improve in those areas where you are gifted, but never forget, they are gifts-and you and I have no right to become prideful about them.

Are you “standing” or “sitting” on the inside?

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Screen Shot 2014-09-12 at 8.03.49 AMI am sure you have heard the story of the little boy who was standing up in the back of his car. His mother tells him repeatedly to sit down and buckle up, or she will stop the car. He finally does, and then announces; “I may be sitting down on the outside, but I’m standing up on the inside!”

That seems to me to be a clear illustration of King Amaziah in today’s verse. He looked from the outside to be doing “all the right things” but the Bible tells us it was not with a true heart. It reminded me of one of my memory verses, I Sam. 16:7 (which I bet you all know too) “For the Lord does not see as man sees; For man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” This does not only apply to “appearance” in the sense of “looks” (cute or unattractive) but also to outside vs. inside actions.

The Life Application Bible has the best insight on this I could possibly pass on so here it is: “Amaziah did what was right on the outside, but inside he resented what he had to do. HIs obedience was at best half-hearted. When the prophet promised God’s deliverance, Amaziah first complained about money that had been lost. He valued military success more than God’s will. We must search our own hearts and root out any resistance to obeying God. Grudging compliance is not true obedience.”

I really can not add one bit of wisdom to this. What I need to do now, is seriously consider the question: “What “thing” or “activity” or whatever, do I value MORE than God’s will?” I am asking God through prayer to show this to me- because I have a feeling I am blind to it. I would encourage you to do the same. Outward obedience is worthless if yours or my heart is not in it!

Ears to hear…

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Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 8.55.00 AMHow many times have you seen me leave the house, only to turn around and come right back in because I have forgotten something? I am pretty sure this happens every single time I go out the door! But, I am not the only one. Certain people whose names I will keep anonymous, often forget things for school and I get a call to bring them over. Even my siri reminders don’t always do the trick for me-I still forget things!

My one comfort is that I am not alone…and neither are you. We all forget things in life, and more importantly, sometimes it is not an actual “thing” we forget, but we “wander” from God, we forget our “way”. When this happens, God is happy to send us a reminder-which, by the way, will be far clearer and accurate than Siri! The question is, when that reminder is sent-will we listen or ignore it?

Back in Old Testament times, God sent reminders to the Israelites, as we see in today’s Scripture. The “reminders” were called “prophets” and they would come, boldly and clearly telling kings and/or the people to come back to God. They would speak truth about where sin had crept into their lives and point them to the way back to God. In today’s portion, sadly, the king “would not listen.”

Are we like that king? Has God ever sent a prophet in the form of a friend, or maybe even dad and I to you? Let’s get a little closer to heart.. if dad and I correct you, pointing out areas in  your life where we see sin, how do you respond? Do you consider what we have said, perhaps repent or get defensive? Keep in mind, none of us like these times. Who wants their sin brought before their eyes? It is not a comfortable place to be, but it is necessary. Your true friends will do this for you as you, too, should do for them. It is not easy. It requires the right timing, a humble heart on both parts, and a sensitivity to sin. But it also requires “open ears”. The desire to listen to godly correction-and then, with listening ears to hear-and turn back to the Lord.

Prepositions matter…

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Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 12.42.20 PMAaron has a grammar book this year. I am sure they will cover prepositions at one point or another. Prepositions can be small words-but they are important to convey a full message.

Such is the case today in Chronicles. Do you see the prepositions in today’s verse? The one I want us to concentrate on is “for”, as in “for the daughter of Ahab was his wife.” This is like an add-on to the sentence, isn’t it? While it seems like an add-on, I am prone to think it is much more than that. It is is basically the reason for the following sentence: “He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.” His wife had a huge influence on him, and in fact, explains partially, why he chose evil. It was her influence.

Ever heard me talk about this before? Do I sound like a broken record? Maybe I do-but dad and I bring up your “spouse” choice over and over because it is that important. With marriages crumbling around us daily, we want to impress this on you. The choice you make for who will be your spouse will be the most important choice you ever make in your life, outside of the choice to follow Christ. Nothing else will come close.

A spouse has influence like no other. Solomon is proof. Jehoshaphat is proof. I am proof. If dad had not put Christ in the center place in his life, insisting on the importance of church in our family life, things would be very different for you and I. If you are not regularly praying for guidance, even now, in this area, I would encourage you to do so. Pray that God makes you into the man/woman of God he wants you to be so you will be a godly spouse when the time comes. Pray for guidance in future dating relationships. Pray God gives you a desire to honor him in all of your dating relationships. Seek God first, and seek a spouse who seeks Him first as well. Then you can be sure that the statement “for the son/daughter of ____ is my husband/wife” will be a positive statement and influence in your life!

What to do??…what to do??…

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Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 11.26.22 AMLast night, Aaron happened to catch the movie Groundhog day on TV. What a funny movie. The premise is that Bill Murray keeps reliving the same day over and over. He has no idea how to get out of the situation. He tries all different tactics from good to bad ones, including killing himself. Nothing works and there is no one he can ask for help.

I am certain none of you will ever be in Bill Murray’s position of reliving the same day over and over, but I am also equally certain you will experience the “not-knowing” part. The part where you face a crossroad and despite all things you have looked at, you don’t know what to do. Today’s Scripture is great guidance for those and really all other times.

In Chronicles today, we see Judah once again, threatened by battle. In today’s verse, they honestly admit “we do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” Good response-and it was the right thing to do. The people all stood before God, knowing by man’s power alone, they would be defeated. They looked to God for guidance and answers. Once they did this, God sent his spirit to some of the people, told them not to worry and told them “the battle is not yours but God’s.” He gave further instruction, and needless to say, they won.

What can we learn from this? First, recognize it is ok to not always know what to do. It happens in life-to all of us-whether it is what to major in at college or whether to play JV or Varsity lacrosse. Second, look to God. Pray, seek godly counsel, read His Word for direction-the more we know the Bible, the more we know God, the more we can discern what He wants us to do. Lastly, wait. They had to stand, look to God, and wait. Waiting is hard, but sometimes, God just wants us to wait. He may even want us to wait for an extended period of time so we see just how impossible the situation is! By doing so, we will give Him all the more glory when He pulls through with an amazing solution. The bottom line for us today? The next time you or I don’t know what to do-let’s do this: Keep our eyes on God.

Don’t shoot the messenger!

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Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 9.24.00 AMHow do you like to hear the answer “no”? Maybe the question is, “Can I go to this party?” or “Can I get a _____?” You may be asking me, dad or even God. Most people don’t like to hear no as an answer-including me! Next question, how do you respond when you hear “no”? Do you accept it or question it? Do you get angry or frustrated? Do you think the person doesn’t understand the situation?

Asa, a king of Israel, was told “no” by a prophet. We see his response above. “Then Asa was angry”. Well, he was not only angry-apparently he was livid, because he had the person who said no, a prophet, put in prison and he apparently also took his anger out on his own people by “inflicting cruelties”. Talk about someone who needed an anger management class!

Here is one of his major problems-he was furious with the prophet-but the prophet was only the messenger. The message was from God. Basically, Asa was saying, “God, you are wrong, your decision is wrong, and you don’t know what in the world you are doing.” I don’t need to explain the error in this line of thinking!

Back to us now… we, too, will be told no over and over again in our lives. Sometimes it will be easy to accept-other times it will be much harder. When you hear “no, you can’t have something to eat before dinner”, that won’t be such a big deal. When you hear “No, you did not get the job” or “No, you may not marry ______.”-that is a different story.

It is these difficult times where we will need to consider the messenger verses the One who actually sent the message. Right now, dad and I will most often be the messenger. Hopefully, we will be relaying the message that God has given us as we look at the counsel of Scripture and see if your requests line up with what God would have for you. The older you get, the messages will come either directly from God or from others-but don’t discount them. They are only the messengers. Take the time to consider no matter how disappointing the “no” may seem, it is a message from God. He only has your best interest in mind and is working daily to complete the good work in you that He started long ago. Don’t shoot the messenger, like Asa did!

Join the club!

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Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 7.24.00 AMJordan is pursuing a business club at Liberty. He is planning to join it and become involved so he can further his goals and business major. It will give him good connections for the future-possibly the day he is looking for a job. He will be joining in with others who are like-minded and interested in a particular subject.

That is basically the definition of a “club”. It centers around a similar interest. Members usually will do certain activities together with a common goal. There are all kinds of clubs: book clubs, 4H (farming-type) clubs, Bible clubs and so on. Some would be beneficial to join-others may not. Today, I would say that Judah formed a “club” of sorts in Chronicles.

We are told that King Asa led Judah (part of Israel) in the right direction-and part of that included that they entered into a covenant to seek the Lord. A covenant is a “joint promise”, but today I want us to think of it also as a club of sorts. They decided together, as a group, that they would make it their goal to seek the Lord. Not only would they seek Him, but they would do it with all their heart and all their soul. That is a good goal and a good club!

You and I can join their club as well. As a matter of fact, I hope we have. This club is not exclusive-anyone can join. Membership is free. Not only that, it is a club that I hope has many “chapters” or smaller groups. While Mrs. Rickert and I have never formally said we are in a “club”, I think we both are members and we have discussed and shared ideas for this club. So have daddy and I. Dad and I talked about a new “club activity” he and I hope to start soon-reading Scripture together, just he and I.

How about you? Do you have any friends in this club with you? Do you have any activities planned? Is there a good friend of yours who might be interested in joining or that you could talk to about activities you could do together in this club? Maybe read the really short book “Don’t Waste Your Sports” by CJ Mahaney with a teammate/friend and discuss how you can play your sports more for the glory of God, and less for your own glory? Do you have another idea? Join the club. Be a leader in this area. Come up with ideas. Dad and I would be more than supportive of this, and would be happy to help in any way we can. Just let us know.

 

Wield your power wisely…

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Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 1.22.32 PMAaron and Miriam are both team captains this year. It is yet another position of leadership that you have both been placed in. You have earned this position and I believe, will serve it well.

They are positions of power though-you may not be President, but still, they are leadership positions. With leadership positions comes responsibility. I always say I don’t know why anyone would ever want to be President, and that is a huge part of the reason why. Today’s Scripture makes it very clear exactly how “powerful” a leader is. He can make or break an entire nation. Look at Rehoboam’s example above. We are told that when he was established-and this is referring to him being king- he grew strong. One of the choices he made was to abandon God. The result- he and ALL Israel with him, abandoned God. He led the ENTIRE NATION to abandon God. That was how far and wide his influence was. What is not written here, but is found in other Scripture, is that he will be held accountable for that, for all the people he led astray. He will have to answer to God.

Any position God puts us in is an opportunity, so to speak, for good or evil. We can lead the people whom we are in authority over towards God or away from him. We don’t have to be king to do this either. Our actions alone, will be an example we are setting as leader. You have this opportunity now, today and will continue to be in positions of leadership throughout your lives, I am sure. I am in a leadership position right now as your mom-each day I am either leading you toward Christ or away from Him. It is a fearful and wonderful responsibility. The important thing is we take it seriously, realizing the power we do wield. Use it wisely.