Tag Archives: II Chronicles

Morning Thoughts (II Chronicles 17:6)

Morning ThoughtsII Chronicles 17:6, “And his heart was lifted up in the ways of the LORD: moreover he took away the high places and groves out of Judah.”

This morning, pride and exaltation is all around us. While man’s ego is already fully tilted in the wrong direction based on the effects of the fall in the garden, certain environments can induce man to engage and indulge his ego more than others. Today’s environment (evil men and seducers waxing worse and worse) could be described as one of the lushest environments to foster a bloated ego. Some of the earmarks of an egomaniac is that he never believes himself to be wrong. Furthermore, he is quite happy about his situation, and the only thing that will bring him down from it is for someone to challenge his overgrown opinion of himself. A simple, cursory perusal of Scripture will show that such a mindset is foreign to the teachings of the Almighty, and such mentalities have no place for a child of God seeking to foster productive fruit in his service to the Master.

In our study verse above, we see some of the opening remarks and details about the beginning of the reign of Jehoshaphat: one of the righteous kings over the land of Judah. While the entire account of his reign and rule shows many flaws in his thinking and deportment, he is still listed as a righteous king. Perhaps one of his most righteous traits is displayed in our verse. The text says he was “lifted up in the ways of the LORD.” The term “lifted up” has two connotations: 1. to be exalted in good like a tree grows or an eagle flies and 2. to be haughty in a negative sense due to pride. Surely the haughty connotation of being lifted has been shown above, but what does it mean to be carried away in an upward fashion to good things?

The Psalmist correlates Jehoshaphat’s mentality and actions when he stated that we boast in the Lord all the day long. (Psalm 44:8) Boasting is normally seen as quite a negative thing (with good reason for the overwhelming abundance of it on that end of the spectrum), but boasting in something worthy of praise is not only good, but would be evil on our part to neglect. Just as surely as boasting in the Lord or being lifted up in His ways is profitable, it is just as unprofitable to leave it off. This is why the precepts and dictates of Christ’s commandments should be followed with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength (all that we are).

Now using our landmarks of how to spot bloated egos in man, how should one manifest being lifted up in the ways of the Lord? An egomaniac never believes he is wrong, but since we are not dealing with an egomaniac, we should rightly stand by the principle that the Lord is never wrong. There is an old expression, “The Lord said it, I believe it, and that settles it.” Now, if the Lord said it, that settles it. Period. But, it is in our best interest to believe it and staunchly adhere to it. No matter the circumstance or the opposition, it is always of the utmost importance to be lifted up in the ways of the Lord by firm conviction that He is right all the time, no matter what.

One of the easiest tools that Satan has in his arsenal to ensnare us is the tool of doubt. If he can foster doubt in our minds about the Lord, he will do it immediately. The very first question he posed in Genesis 3 towards God’s command was geared to make the man and woman doubt what God really said. People today spend their time trying to implant doubt that the book we call The Bible is error-ridden, not worthy of our attention, and not all it is cracked up to be. To be frank, without going into a long treatise on the defense of the infallibility and inspiration of the Bible, let me pose a simple question. If you throw out the Bible as a standard guide and measuring stick, what will you use as your guide and standard? Man’s opinion? That changes as often as the wind. Man’s feelings? That changes even more often. Governments? Family? Friends? Pray tell what? If not the Bible, then what? If the Bible is supposedly full of such problems, show me something that contains less errors, speculations, etc. A diligent search provides nothing even remotely comparable to the Great Book, and that is because what God says is right all the time.

Another waymark of being lifted up is being completely happy about the condition or status. An egomaniac is completely happy with himself with no need or regard to change anything. It is painted and tattooed over every fiber of his being. To the child of God lifted up in the ways of the Lord, we will manifest the happiness and joy that accompanies contentment in the Lord. Many times I encounter people in the world that are what I like to call “mopey dopes.” They seem to drag misery, suffering, bitterness, and such like around with them like a ball and chain. Of course, if my outlook on life was like theirs, I would probably look and feel the same way. However, it always boggles my mind to fathom when I get in that shape or see church members in that situation.

The Bible says that we will spend all of eternity in the satisfaction that defies our utmost imagination’s stretch here. (Romans 8:18) No matter what, we will live together with Him forever because Jesus died for us. (I Thessalonians 5:9-10) Furthermore, God has promised that no matter the trials and circumstances of life, He will never leave us nor forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5-6) Not only will we never be forsaken, but His presence remains! Never alone! What about life – regardless of outward factors – is cause to shift us from being lifted up in His ways? Will following HIs ways yield persecution and ridicule? Certainly. Does that change the reality of His presence, our final abode, or even the integrity of His character? Not one iota.

Just as a side note – and perhaps a bit of a soapbox – it never ceases to amaze me when I witness a minister of the gospel delivering the grandest message the world has ever known like he is having his wisdom teeth extracted without anesthetics at the same time. Sometimes it seems so painful to him, that you could make a case he wished he was somewhere else talking about something else. Friends, not everything in the Bible is pleasant – as many subjects go against the grain of our old nature – but if I as the minister am not happy and devoted (lifted up) about the things I am presenting, why would I be surprised if no one else is too?

Finally, Jehoshaphat showed his state in the ways of the Lord by doing something very specific. He removed the idolatry out of the land. To be lifted up in the ways of the Lord, we must not just pay them lip service, but also walk them as well. Too many times, we set the Lord on the shelf with equal standing to all our little gods in life. He is just one in the midst of a lineup, but to be exalted and riding high in Him, we need to clear out the things that do not belong. Idols take on many forms and guises, but a good indicator of something being an idol is if it invades the two landmarks we have discussed.

Does the thing cause us to doubt the Lord’s integrity? For example, the Lord commanded us to give Him public service in His house (Hebrews 10:25), and many things today seek to pull us away from that service. Many rationales are employed to hide the sin such as “I think the Lord will understand” and “God knows my heart.” No matter the statement, one cannot evade the obvious point that God said it, and that settles it. We would do well to observe it with all that we are. Does the thing cause us to not be happy in our situation? Keeping the example of public service in His house, are we there with zeal and anticipation or are we there out of dreaded duty? More often than not, being in God’s house out of dreaded duty entails that we wish we were somewhere else. Not always, but generally it is the case. In both scenarios, it is easy to spot the idol for what it is. More often than not, it is far harder to buckle down and remove it than it is to identify it. The idolatrous groves and high places were easy to spot in Jehoshaphat’s day, but it took courage to tear down what had been used for so long.

Friends, I personally do not believe that we should be happy about life and its circumstances for many of them will be bad to terrible in this fallen, sinful world. However, I also believe that we have no reason to cease from being exalted in the ways of the Lord as they are permanent and never-changing. The two illustrations for good exaltation used above were trees growing and eagles flying. In Scripture, we are compared to both. (Isaiah 40:31, Isaiah 61:3) Let us be constantly growing in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ as that growth will lift us further and further in the ways of the Lord, and may we soar as eagles so that the weak and perishable things of this old world look smaller and smaller.

In Hope,

Bro Philip

Morning Thoughts (II Chronicles 16:12)

Morning ThoughtsII Chronicles 16:12, "And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the LORD, but to the physicians." 

This morning, our short-sighted culture lacks something that old-timers called "follow-through."  We refer to this concept in a number of ways – persistence, perseverance, endurance, etc. – but people today are so programmed for the moment that they fail to follow through something to the end.  Two of the paramount principles of Godly service according to the tenets of Scripture are remaining steadfastly faithful and seeking to constantly grow in that grounded state. (II Timothy 2:3, II Peter 3:18) Sadly, there are many who begin to run well, but like a runner getting winded during a race, they fade down the stretch.  Too oftentimes, we may grow lackadaisical in our service because somewhere in our mind we have "done enough."  There is no room for retirement in God's service.  One of the funniest quips I ever heard about that was when one of our ministers was asked, "Do the Primitive Baptists have a retirement program?"  He responded, "Yes, it's called the cemetery." 

Our study verse offers a lot of sorrowful connotation, but when seen in the light of the recent context, it is even moreso.  Asa was a good king of Judah, but like many of God's saints, he faded down the stretch.  Let us briefly consider what led to his painful end, see what great wonders God had wrought, and then look to today and see how we can better serve God without having to experience the misery that Asa had.  The immediate and larger context is one of the most remarkable to consider as a whole.  Let us back up to chapter 13 and quickly move back to our study verse. 

In chapter 13, Abijah (Asa's father) reigns over Judah and has a war with Jeroboam the king of Israel.  Israel and Judah had recently split just years before during the reign of Abijah's father Rehoboam.  10 of the 12 tribes constituting Israel that Jeroboam reigned over and 2 of the 12 tribes constituting Judah that Abijah reigned over warred against each other.  Due to Jeroboam and the nation of Israel's idolatry, God delivered them into Judah's hand.  Though Israel's army numbered 800,000 and Judah's only 400,000 (Verse 3), we find where the Lord delivered Israel into Judah's hand with a slaughter of 500,000! (Verse 17) This is the largest, explicitly stated casualty rate in all of Scripture.  While it does not say how long this slaughter took, the passage reads like it happened quickly.  Since Abijah only reigned 3 years, it was far shorter in duration than modern wars have taken.  Consider.  Israel lost more in this slaughter than all of the American casualties in World War II! 

Chapter 14 opens with the beginning of Asa's reign.  He reigns well.  God blesses him in many ways, but perhaps the greatest came during Asa's own war.  He meets a host of the Ethiopians that are told to number 1,000,000 with 300 chariots as well. (Verse 6) In Verse 11, Asa prays mightily to God showing his utter dependence on the Almighty.  Asa knows that it does not take a large host to effect the Lord's deliverance.  God answers the prayer with a mighty slaughter that drives the large Ethiopian host away and allows Judah to enjoy a great spoil. 

When Chapter 15 opens, the Lord sends the prophet Azariah to give Asa both encouragement and a warning. (Verses 1-7) Azariah encourages Asa to continue in the path he has currently taken (wholly dependent on the Lord) and warns against sliding away (turning to the thoughts of man).  Asa receives the word of God willingly and makes an even more diligent effort through the rest of Chapter 15 to put idolatry away in Judah even more than it already had been.  Not only had he prepared to seek his heart personally in going forth to lead the people, but he further prepared the land to seek the Lord wholly and completely. 

Through much of the books of Kings and Chronicles as we read the lives of the men who ruled over Israel and Judah of old, there are large areas that are very sad to read.  Large portions of time with wickedness prevailing in the land and one ungodly ruler after another.  Sometimes the sections are so rough that when we read of a Godly ruler it seems as if a breeze has blown across the page.  What we have just passed through from Chapters 13-15 is a rather lengthy breeze that shows a very sweet time of fellowship with God and the land of Judah.  However, Chapter 16 opens with something rather peculiar. 

Baasha the next king of Israel comes out to fortify himself against Judah.  He builds cities to halt the traffic in and out of Judah (a siege of sorts).  Asa then sends word to Benhadad the ruler over Syria to come and help him and break his league with Baasha. (Verses 1-6) The following verses contain the rebuke of Hanani the seer to Asa for forgetting the Lord. (Verses 7-9) Consider what has just happened.  Asa's father Abijah slaughtered a great and powerful force of Israel.  Asa himself slaughtered a mightier force than Israel when they overthrew the Ethiopian army.  With such powerful miracles from on high, why would he ask help from the Syrians to get past a lesser foe now?  Hanani tells Asa as much.  Asa's response is woeful beyond degree. 

Instead of repenting and begging for forgiveness, Asa throws the seer into prison and oppressed the people of the land as well.  When his shortcomings were pointed out, he dealt with the problem very destructively in allowing rage to control him.  By the time we get to our study verse, he has forgotten the Lord to the point of not even begging for help during times of physical affliction.  Whereas before, he immediately besought the Lord to help during a time of battle, he forgets to even think of the Lord during times of affliction.  His trust was in the ways of man not in the arm of the Lord.  What a terrible slide and drift to have! 

Let us fast forward to the present and learn from Asa's problems without experiencing the misery of it personally.  God has taken great foes away from us.  The greatest armies we could ever face with the greatest strength would be death, hell, and the grave.  God has delivered us mightily from them.  The next strongest armies we could face are the armies of Satan and all his minions.  God has mercifully stood by us when engaged in Godly warfare against the spiritual wickedness in high places.  Beyond that, the foes that we face are very light in comparison.  We have foes now in our bodies (sickness and affliction), enemies for the gospel's sake, and natural enemies that would like to annihilate us.  Do sicknesses in our body, natural foes, or even God's people that oppose what we think the Bible to teach compare to the other 2 great forces?  No.  There is no comparison whatsoever.  

How often can we fade going down the stretch whenever sickness or maladies come upon us?  How often do we get disgruntled at others for the issues that we have with one another?  How often do we worry about what may happen to us naturally due to all the people in the world that hate us?  Regrettably, I must confess that my outlook during infirmity is not always the brightest; I have worried about the state of things naturally and have not handled my labors and endurance with others like I should.  Too often in all these things, I forget the Lord and look to my own thoughts to carry me through.  Much like Asa, I have forgotten all the past blessings that were marvellous to behold.  When forgetting the Lord like this, I can become quickly angry and oppress the very things that I should be honoring.  Asa should have honored the man of God Hanani for faithfully delivering the word of the Lord to him.  Rather, he afflicted him like a common criminal.  He should have lovingly cared for the land over which he ruled.  Instead, he oppressed it. 

Friends, spend a few moments in contemplation considering how the Lord has delivered you from large and mighty armies.  Things you could not have handled yourself, He has mercifully taken away.  Even the enemies that plague us today, He will still not leave us to endure the hardness alone.  He is still here with us!  Where else would we go for help?  The Syrians of this world's helps as allies?  The expert doctors who can fix anything?  Friends, doctors can be a great blessing and allies in this world can serve to encourage us, but true help and strength comes from whole reliance upon the Omnipotent Ruler of His Universe.  Let us not forget Him friends.  Let us also not fade in our race down the stretch.  We may have run well, let us not stop.  We may not be running well, let us start.  Whatever the case, let us look to Him, and when in need of rebuke, let us take that patiently – knowing that it is of the Lord – and constantly strive to do better in the future than we have in the past.

In Hope,

Bro Philip