Friday, May 31, 2013

Consequences of Faith and Obedience

By Graham Print

Psalm 19:7b: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple/instructs the open minded. I hope we are open for the Word of God this morning.

Romans 15:4, referring to the Old Testament scriptures, which is full of the witness of the LORD. We are to learn from what is written in the OT. Some Christians don’t hold much desire to look into the Old Testament and believe they can live entirely by the NT, but the OT is so important.

1 Cor 10:1 - 5, the Hebrews coming out of Egypt drank from the rock, the spiritual rock was Jesus Christ so He was there at that time. Verse 6: OT scriptures are there to instruct us and be examples/warnings by learning what happened to their ancestors, and to not go down that same path and to learn from the consequences of their disobedience.

2 Chron 17: 1-6, Chronicles is largely about the history of the people of God and the nations around them. Chapter 17 begins the story of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah. Baals are false gods and Jehoshaphat did not follow those gods. His heart was devoted to the ways of the Lord. Is your heart devoted to the ways of the Lord? At that time, Ahab was the king of Israel.

2 Chron 18, is a very interesting chapter in the Bible, with some awesome things in there for us to learn from but we don’t have time to look at it today so I suggest you find time read it when you get home. Ahab was a wicked man. One of the mistakes Jehoshaphat made was to make an alliance with Ahab to go into battle with Syria which shows there is nothing new another the sun if you look at what is happening with Syria today. Ahab dies and God rescues Jehoshaphat.

Chapter 19, Jehoshaphat had made a pact with an ungodly man but had removed all the gods.

Chapter 20:1-30

“After this, the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites (Edomites) came to wage war against Jehoshaphat. Some people came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Dead Sea. It is already in Hazezon Tamar” (that is, En Gedi). Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him. Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the Lord in the front of the new courtyard and prayed:
Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. Our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying, ‘If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’

“But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, whose territory you would not allow Israel to invade when they came from Egypt; so they turned away from them and did not destroy them. 11 See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession you gave us as an inheritance. 12 Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the Lord. Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jahaziel son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite and descendant of Asaph, as he stood in the assembly. He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16 Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. 17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’
Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the Lord.19 Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice. Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” 21 After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of hisholiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: “Give thanks to the Lord,for his love endures forever.”
As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. 23 The Ammonites and Moabites rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another.When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped. So Jehoshaphat and his men went to carry off their plunder, and they found among them a great amount of equipment and clothing and also articles of value—more than they could take away. There was so much plunder that it took three days to collect it. On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Berakah, where they praised the Lord. This is why it is called the Valley of Berakah to this day.
Then, led by Jehoshaphat, all the men of Judah and Jerusalem returned joyfully to Jerusalem, for the Lord had given them cause to rejoice over their enemies. They entered Jerusalem and went to the temple of the Lord with harps and lyres and trumpets. The fear of God came on all the surrounding kingdoms when they heard how the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. And the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side.’
Verse 1: Here are some of the traditional enemies of Israel & Judah. They came together on the eastern side of the Dead Sea. Moab and Ammon are the sons that Lot had with his daughters so they are related to Judah through Abraham who was Lot’s uncle.
Verse 2 - 5: Judah had a large army of about 1 million men but the enemies had even larger armies and would have heavily out-numbered the army of Judah, therefore a very alarming and frightening situation. Jehoshaphat declares a fast.
Verse 5 - 7: Jehoshaphat prays and starts by praising God and acknowledges the power of the Lord, the God of our ancestors, the God who is in heaven who is our God (verse 7). When the Israelites left Egypt, God did not allow them to destroy the Edomites or Moabites.
Verse 8-12: A Statement of humility and acknowledgement, we don’t know what to do but our eyes are on you. When we face difficult/threatening/alarming situations, where do we look? Are our eyes on the LORD?
Verse 13-21: Jehoshaphat seemed to know Psalm 136 because it is the same praise, “his love endures forever” and therefore had a knowledge of David’s psalm. Verse 21- they engaged in music and song and praise before the battle was even fought. That is a lesson for us, when we face battles and trials. They didn’t wait until they saw the army destroyed before to praise but they praised God before the battle. They had faith and believed in what the prophet had told them that the battle is the Lord’s. They also obeyed God’s prophet.
Verse 22-25: three days to collect plunder gives an idea of the size of the three armies. Imagine a million men collecting the plunder for three days and still couldn’t get it all
Verse 25-30: The consequence of faith and obedience: their plunder, what they gained from the other armies. Verse 27, they returned joyfully so the joy of the Lord over them is another consequence of faith and obedience. Verse 29 = Judah had enemies all around them, the fear of God came on the surrounding kingdoms when they heard how the Lord had fought on their behalf so, Verse 30, they had peace and rest.
Therefore the consequences of their faith and obedience was plunder, more praise, joy of the LORD, fear of God on those around them resulting in peace and rest.
We don’t have the same situation with the multitude of enemies today? Or do we? When satan fell, he took with him 1/3rd of the angels of heaven which are now demons and so we have a multitude of enemies interested in attacking those who have faith in Jesus Christ and they prefer to attack Christians more than attacking those in the world. Our battle is God’s battle if we exercise faith and obedience in the Lord. We are soldiers (2 Tim 2:1-4) and as a soldier we must be obedient to our commander, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and God the Father. A soldier doesn’t get entangled with the world’s affairs. We have to live and work in the world but we must not get entangled in the affairs of this world – the spirit and mindset of this world who don’t know God. The world we live in is beautiful with God’s creation but let’s not get tied up with worldly desires. We can have friendship with people and we should have friendship with people in the world but we can’t really have fellowship with those in the world, we can only have true fellowship with those that have faith and obedience in the Lord Jesus Christ

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

When God is Silent

By Odon Bulamba
Psalm 22:1
Without the Word of God we are like headless bodies. We go here and there but there is nothing to direct us. David wrote this Psalm. Physically he was quite small but he was chosen by God over his brothers. In those days kings were chosen based on their physical attributes – tall, huge biceps, 6-packs, long hair, perfumed. David’s brother’s fulfilled the criteria but they were not chosen. They were not avid was brought from the sheep fields and anointed.
However, the years went by and nothing happened. David had to flee for his life and live as a fugitive. David was not afraid to use a slingshot even though he would be mocked by those who used swords. He knew it was not the weapon, but the power behind the weapon that won the victory. For example, rebels in Africa were given power to resist the bullets of their enemies by witchdoctors and so they defeated armed soldiers.  But it was not their machetes and clubs, it was the power behind them that gave them that immunity.
How many times have I faced a situation where I have cried out, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me,’ as David did when he wrote these words? David faced the giant Goliath who was 9ft tall, a monster – and sometimes situations we find ourselves in can appear to be like Goliath – huge and impossible to defeat, but the little, the smallest faith given to us by God is enough!
Proverbs 23:4, ‘Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint’              
We can believe that we have to work hard in order to become rich, but I tell you, if God says we will be rich, it is enough! Have I ever shouted, ‘My God, my God...’ feeling as if abandoned and without any kind of hope?
2Kings 6:22-29
These people knew what it was like to live as if abandoned and without hope. They were in the middle of a siege and they were hungry and forced to eat their children to survive. Even the king could not help them.
The children of Israel left the bondage and slavery of Egypt. They were so happy just as we are when we first are saved, but then they came to the Red Sea and the armies of Pharaoh were behind them. Was God mocking them, laughing at their predicament, the stress they were under?
Moses cried out, My God, my God...’  He lost all power and courage and at the very last second God commanded Moses to raise his staff and the sea parted and they crossed on dry land. Some people walked on, others were scared and stopped along the away. Do we beat them and drive them forward or go back, encourage them, help them, even carry them to safety?
They arrived on the other side – saved but there was no time to relax. There would be more challenges ahead. Remember, victory is ours. It will come when we take the first step! We don’t have to tremble in front of our boss. They are only human beings, people.  A mistake that many people make is to assume that because we know God – it will be ok. But we also must be ready to act when we are tested or given assignments to carry out. Complete them in order to make your faith grow up and to become mature.
Let us pray for ourselves that when we feel utterly forsaken,  we will cry out to God and receive deliverance.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

New Body

By Tyrone Garrett
2Cor 5:1-2  We will receive a new body, an eternal body, which God will clothe us with. If we look at the body Jesus had after He was raised from the dead we will see something of the body we can expect to receive.
How was Jesus different after He was raised from the dead. Let us consider some of the differences. Fo example,
Luke 24: 13-31. Jesus turned up unexpectedly. He was not recognised by the disciples. They only recognised Him after He broke bread. Did He change or were their eyes opened. Jesus could block their sight. Then Jesus vanished, disappearing as abruptly as He had appeared. His purpose in meeting with His disciples completed which was to show them from the OT Scriptures all that was said about Himself.
John 20:11-17 Once again Jesus disguised Himself and Mary did not recognise Him until he said her name which opened her eyes. She recognised His voice when He called her.
John20:18-20 Jesus appeared suddenly in a room in which all the doors were shut and locked. He had the ability to move through solid barriers.
John 20:26-28 The doors were locked but were no barrier to Jesus. He came and stood amongst them. His wounds were not healed.
John 21:1-12 The disciples did not recognise Jesus who was standing on the shore. He had lit a fire and had food ready for breakfast which they (including Jesus presumably) ate together.
Luke 24:50-51 Jesus ascended into heaven. They saw him leave, He didn’t just disappear.
All these eyewitness appearances after Jesus resurrection offer clues as to what our resurrected bodies will also be like: a body not limited to time and place, able to eat, able to disguise who we are.
The Bible says that we are not to think of Jesus as ‘after the flesh’ – meaning we are not to remember
His human body but to celebrate His glorious resurrected body, restored to all its previous glory. Likewise our bodies will no longer be corrupted. This is something to rejoice about especially if we suffer now.
Prayer: Thank you Jesus for reminding us tonight of the wonderful inheritance ahead of us because You led the way by Your death and resurrection. Lord continue to reveal Yourself  to us so that we can be like You. Amen