What Happens When We Fail To Learn From The Past?

Ahaziah – The One Who Failed To Learnthe-past

Once again into my studies I find real life applications for our daily lives. In 2nd Chronicles 21, where we left off last time, we saw that Jehoram walked away from God to his own demise and that of his country. Today we pick up in chapter 22, just after Jehoram’s death and find that the people of Judah makes his son, Ahaziah, King of Judah. The Bible says that the reason he was made king was because his other brothers had been killed by Arabian bands.

So we have a 42 year old man taking the reigns of a kingdom that has seen both amazing miracles and utter devastation. Ahaziah had seen both in his life, so one would think that he would choose the path that would lead to the amazing miracles but sadly the Bible reports that he did not.

In fact, the Bible tells us that he chose evil over good, seeking the very counsel that led to his fathers destruction. It led to his only being king for one year – he was killed for his involvement with the evil king in Israel. Why would he do that? A better question is – Why would we do that?

Oh, don’t be offended, I am not accusing anyone of anything, I just know that sometimes we go to the left when we know that the way God would have us go is to the right. Why do we do that – sometimes the temptation is just so enticing that we choose not to resist. Other times that is just what we want and we say to ourselves – God will just have to forgive me.

I say these things because I have done them. But why? Why do we choose a path that takes us away from God? It is typically a gradual slide away that leads us off the path we know is the right one. We think that this won’t hurt much – this is just a little sin – or this isn’t that bad, after all I see another Christian doing it all the time…

All of these are nothing but excuses we, I, have used to justify bad behaviors.

The devastation that occurs when we walk away from God’s plan and path is made plain throughout scripture. If it is so plain then why would we dare even consider it? It is my belief that since the consequences are not immediately seen or felt that we continue. We have to realize that God is gracious and full of mercy and if He ended things for us at every slip we would never have a chance at all. We must seek His guidance daily if we are to stay on His well lit narrow path. We must be willing to learn form the examples of those that have come before us – both good and bad. We need to realize that the devastation that bad choices brought to the disobedient way back then can and will come to those who walk the same path today.

As we “study to show ourselves approved”, we must learn from the past and apply the lessons of the past. If people are leading us away from God, then we must separate ourselves from them. This may even mean keeping our distance from members of our family. Both of these cases are present in the life of Ahaziah – his Mom was the daughter of King Omri of Israel, one of the worst kings ever and his counselors were the same ones who led his father to his demise.

These people probably used the name of “god” and I am sure spoke all the right words but their actions proved otherwise. Sometimes it is difficult to know what to do in these cases. So how are we to know what is good and what is not? Two simple questions –

  1. Have I sought God’s Will in this area of my life?
  2. Is the action I am about to undertake God honoring or self-honoring? Are you doing it for you or for Him?

While the first question is one that you may be use to, the second one can cut pretty hard. I have to admit that when I check myself against that standard I fall way short. In fact, this has just brought on in me a need to repent and dig deeper in my own life.

I am not saying this is easy to do. We are going to get it wrong from time to time but what we must do everyday is seek Him, check ourselves in His mirror and ask Him to examine us and to see if there is any evil in us. A regular prayer I speak –

“Lord what would you have me to do today?”

My job is to do that which He directs. On the days that I do what He directs I filled with joy and peace. On the days that I choose not to even ask, I am often filled with anxiety and doubt – sometimes I even find myself slipping into depression when I remain there long enough.

Look, I am just being transparent with you – honest to a fault. If you find my confession here too much then, I want you to know that I find it important that we stop playing church, putting on our masks that everything is alright and that we are all holy and perfect. We need to talk about our challenges, so that the people who are following in behind us on this journey to eternity will better be able to avoid the pitfalls. I look at the stories of the kings in the books of Chronicles and see a roadmap. I see things to avoid and things to embrace. I see how God speaks to us. I see the great reward from obedience and the horrible tragedy for going our own way.

So read the story in 2nd Chronicles 22 – short chapter – and see what lessons you can learn from it. Be willing to check yourself in the mirror and be examined. Then be Past-Lessonwilling to take the next step – all those things that are found lacking and wrong – repent and return to the God that loves you and wants more for you than you can ever imagine.

Praise Him!

Cliff

2 Timothy 4:2,5

Got Off Track and Stayed – The Prodigal Son That Didn’t Return!!

What Do We Do When We Get Off-Track?

My Bible study this morning in 2nd Chronicles 21 led me to the tragic story of King Jehoram, the son King Jehoshaphat. Things started out so well for him. He saw the amazing miracles that occurred due to God Almighty and the faith of His father. According to scripture he was given the kingdom because he was the oldest of many brothers. He was given much gold and silver – there was nothing he wanted that he wasn’t given.two-paths

Yet when he became King and had established himself, he killed all his brothers, married King Ahab’s daughter (the daughter of Jezebel) and led the nation of Judah in the ways of idolatry and sin. His life got off track.

But even then he was warned. The prophet Elijah sent him a message telling him of bad things to come if he didn’t turn back to God. The young man didn’t listen. So the enemies came and began to destroy Jerusalem. Where the faith and godly life of his father had brought peace, the lack of faith and godless life of the son broke the country into pieces.

The King was then plagued with a stomach illness that was incurable and things ended so badly for the king that no one mourned his death.

My question for all of us today is: What are we doing? Have our lives gotten off-track? Are the warning bells ringing? Do we have people coming up to us asking: Is everything alright – you just don’t seem right? Have we gotten in over our heads in debt? Has an old addiction crept back in? Is some demon of the past raising its ugly head again and you have begun to lean that way? How about depression – has it come to sit on your chest like a 800lb guerilla, that has no plans of leaving any time soon, leaving you alone, feeling hopeless, defeated and lost? How about anxiety – worry – nervousness….etc.

None of that is from God, so it means that we may have gotten off-track. You may be thinking that since you haven’t as far off as our King Jehoram that this doesn’t count for you – but it does.

Getting off God’s well lit narrow path can be as simple as walking in a way that is not God focused. In Amos 3:3 we are told that two cannot walk together unless they are in agreement. So that means either we are in agreement with God and therefore walking with Him or we are walking away from Him. When we are walking away from Him, we are walking into our very own demise.

So what do we do about it when we discover this? Well let me tell you what I did and maybe it will help you. This afternoon I didn’t want to get out of bed. I am struggling with looking for work and I just didn’t want to get back to it today? I hated the idea of putting in another resume or filling out even one application and answering all the questions that the new online job profile screening programs give us. I tried to sleep it all away but it didn’t go away. So I prayed,

“LORD, What do you want me to do?”

I heard in a very clear and concise way in my spirit,

“Write!”

This is not the answer that I wanted, so I asked again and guess what answer I got back –

“Write! Write!”

So I came and got on my computer and thought, Lord, what do you want me to write about – That was when I was reminded about the bad choices of Jehoram that I studied this morning and how he ignored the path of his father and the word of The Lord spoken directly to him by the prophets and how this led to his total destruction.still waters

This story resonated very deeply with me and where I was at today. I was reminded that rarely does a person wake up one morning and decide that he or she is going to go into full on rebellion against God – it’s usually a progressive thing. It is that step by step movement away from the LORD that leads a person down that path into darkness.

What I have learned is that when I begin to feel a separation from God that it is me that has moved away and not God. I know that depression is not of God. I know that anxiousness is not of God. Addictions are not from God. I know that when my mind and heart is stayed on Him that I am at perfect peace. When I look away, I am looking into the abyss of my own demise.

My advice today is to check yourself in the mirror. Where are you going, what is the recurring message between your ears and if it’s not from God, what are you doing about it? God wants the best for His children and therefore we need to look to Him for His gifts and fruits of the Spirit – like peace, joy, love and … When we do, we find that He is right there to lift our burdens, dispel the darkness and restore our joy. One of the simple things I started doing when I feel down is to turn on Christian radio or Spotify through the internet and listen to the Contemporary Christian Mix or Worship Mix. Just hearing the Lords name being praised brings a peace that is hard to explain. But I know that this is a very Biblical response because we find that when David played music for Saul that the tormenting spirit had to leave. It still works today but it doesn’t work with other types of music. Why, you ask? It’s simple – one comes from God and the other does not. One leads you to God and the other must by its very nature lead you away from God.

We must constantly remain on the path that God has for us – for if we are left to our own devices, we will get it wrong. This may also mean that we have to separate ourselves from the other negative influences – the people, places and things – that surround us and try to drag us back into the pit and then do the very best they can to bury us there.

This can be very hard because it requires that we make difficult choices. We will save that discussion for another day. Suffice it to say that today, if you find yourself in a pit of despair or way off-track, do the first right thing and that is to pray and ask for God’s help. Seek His direction and then just do it. Then I want you to put His word in your ears and it will slowly lift that big ugly burden and before you know it your singing along and laughing.

I want you to know that the Creator of the Universe is just one prayer away – call on Him and return – you can never stray too far – His reach spans the entire universe and He can and will restore you, if you will just call on Him – turn to Him. He is waiting today – will you call on Him. I did and it made all the difference.

Praise Him!

Cliff

2 Timothy 4:2,5

“How Can This Be A Good Thing?” Tests & Trials

christian-inspirational-quotes-6

There are many times when we go through things and we have no idea why. In fact, we may voice the following to God –

“Why would You allow me to go through this? What did I do to deserve this?”

In previous posts we have talked about King Jehoshaphat and the trouble and the trials he went through and the time he was almost killed for hanging out with King Ahab. He learned in that trial that his hope and only real strength could be found in God Almighty. In Chapter 19 of 2nd Chronicles we see that he brought the whole nation into a full on revival.

When a football team goes through Spring Training or two-a-days before the season starts they are being prepared for something – the games. So King Jehoshaphat was being prepared for something as well – war – but not just any old skirmish. No, a group of armies from at least three different kingdoms had joined together to come up against Judah.

These forces vastly outnumbered the King’s army and he could see very quickly that he was in trouble. So what was he to do? What would you do? The King did what he had been prepared to do – Call On God!prayer - small

“And said, ‘O LORD God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? And rule not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? And in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to stand thee?…. And now behold, the children of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir…. Come to cast us out of thy possession, which thou hast given to us… O Our God, wilt thou not judge them? For we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do; but our eyes are upon Thee.” 2nd Chron. 20:6-12

This is not the typical response of a king. Most military leaders would be all about rallying the troops – making battle preparations – calling on allies and anything else they can think of. But this king was different – he was a man of God. His previous tests and trials had shown him that his King could be trusted at just such a time as this. King Jehoshaphat was not disappointed.

God sent a message through a prophet that told him…

“…Thus saith the Lord unto you, ‘Be not afraid, nor be dismayed by reason of the great multitude; for the battle is not yours but God’s.” vs. 15

WOW! What a message. Now the word went on to give them instructions. They had to go out to the field of battle but they would not fight; only observe what God was going to do for them. So the next morning, the King got everyone together and went out as instructed. On the way to the battlefield, the king stopped everyone and decided to make one of the boldest statements of faith I have seen in scripture. He put the choir out in front of the army to sing praises to God. Telling the world of God’s greatness and that His mercy endures forever. Again, this is not the typical battlefield strategy but God doesn’t require our ingenuity to be successful. He wants us to believe and testify.

Here’s what happened next –

“And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten. For the children of Ammon and Moab stood up against …Mount Seir, utterly to destroy them: and when they had made an end of … Seir, [then] everyone helped to destroy another… none escaped.” Vs. 22-24

So what is our take away from this event? I believe that it should give us great confidence in the face of our daily tests and trials; knowing that there is a greater purpose than we can begin to imagine. I believe that we should be willing to step out in faith, even in the midst of impossible odds, knowing that God is with us and that means everything.

This story should also force us to look inward and check our faith in the mirror and ask the question – Do I really believe? Do I truly trust? For a long time I said all the right words but down deep, my belief was in me – If it’s to be, it’s up to me. That strategy didn’t work out so well. Today, I have been through the valley and the enemy is overwhelming in my tiny personal perspective. But when I turn my eye to He who created the world and place my trust in Him saying – I don’t know what to do but my eyes are on YOU LORD – He makes a way through it or delivers me from it, using methods and people that I would have never known were available. My King is bigger than all the kings of this world and no weapon formed against me will prosper.

If you are going through a tough time right now, I want you to do something that seems to be against everything the world teaches – put the choir out front. Begin to praise God for the challenge, the test and the trial. The only reason your going through it is to prepare you for something even greater and a victory so large that it can’t be contained. That’s what He did King Jehoshaphat – the spoils of that victory took his men 3 days to gather up and carry back to Jerusalem – that was a lot of stuff. But not only that, the chapter goes on to say that –

“And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries, when they had heard that the LORD fought against the enemies of Israel.” vs. 29

What you may be going through right now may just be a prelude to not only a great victory but a huge testimony for the Glory of God and an incredible blessing for you.

Praise Him!

Cliff

Practical Christianity – Finding God’s Will In Our Work

Have you ever been in a job you wish you had never taken? Have you felt that your faith was being compromised at every turn and that you were falling away from God just by remaining in that place? If so, you might need to go searching.

I know that I certainly have. I was once told by my boss to,

“Go tell Clay to get his @#$$%, *&^%, #^&*) in my office right ?*&^%$ now!”christianityquotes 1

So I stuck my head out of the office and said,

“Hey Clay, the boss needs to see you.”

He commenced to tell me that I had not followed his instructions and that I needed to call for Clay the same way he had just told me. I very politely told him,

“Sir, I don’t talk like that anymore.”

He began to stutter and stumble over his words and said something to the effect that he didn’t either and that ……. It would have been funny if it hadn’t been so sad. From that moment on, I was persona non-grata. I needed to find another job and it was tough but I was persistent and found one.

Have you ever been in that kind of situation? What did you do? Let me hear from you.

Tomorrow we will talk about looking for work. I recently had an experience that blew me away and forced me to walk from an opportunity that otherwise I would have taken.

Cliff

In Spite of Ourselves – God is Great!

I love God’s Word because it shows us God’s heart that is so full of mercy and grace. I was studying 2 Chronicles 18 this Sunday and was reminded about the fact that God know’s how messed up we are and yet, He protects us anyway.

 among us

In this chapter King Jehoshaphat (Jeho) goes over to King Ahab and agree’s to go to war with him. He tell’s Ahab that they need to consult the Lord prior to going out. Well Ahab, under the influence of Jezebel, had a few “prophets” of Baal that were telling them that they would be successful. But Jeho knew that these “prophets” were not from God. He insisted that Ahab call a prophet of God. Ahab didn’t want to because God’s man always gave him bad news but to satisfy Jeho, he called the prophet.

 

After some bantering, the prophet told them that King Ahab was going to die in battle. The King’s went to war anyway but Ahab had Jeho wear his robes but Ahab was going as a regular soldier. To make a long story short, the enemy saw a King in robes, expecting it to be Ahab and went after him. Jeho saw them coming and cried out and the enemy realized that they were going after the wrong man. A random arrow was shot at the army of Israel and killed Ahab anyway.

 

The reason this story is important is because it shows us that God protects those that are His. Jeho was right asking for God’s guidance in this endeavor but he failed by going to war anyway. Yet, God spared him. Why? Earlier it tells us that Jeho was right with the Lord and sought him like David did. He went home and got back to following God with his whole heart.

 

Why did God not spare Ahab? God had given Ahab numerous calls to get it right but he still hated to listen to anything God had to say and willfully went against His will. If we keep going down the road to destruction, eventually we will be destroyed. God will show us mercy but we have to turn to Him and Abide in Him. If we live apart from Him, we forsake His mercy and grace. A life outside God’s grace and mercy is one without hope. A life without hope is the definition of being an atheist.

 

So what are you going to choose – God’s way or your own? God’s grace and mercy or ….?

 

What I love about God’s grace and mercy is that when we mess up and we will mess up and get it wrong, He helps us, picks us up out of the pit (or saves us in battle) and sets us on His road – His Well Lit Narrow Path! Let’s get on that path and remain – life is too short and eternity too long to miss out on all that God has for us.

 Praise Him!

 Cliff Robertson, Jr.

2 Timothy 4:2,5