Listen to Wisdom

There is wisdom in listening to elders and not just our friends our age who can sometimes have a limited perspective/motive/attitude when giving advice. The elders in this passage had advice that benefited the whole kingdom for the long term (the King and the people.) The younger friends advice seemed to be prideful and only looking out for Rehoboam’s authority being established at the beginning, not with a long term perspective.

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” -Proverbs 15:1 NIV

“If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.” -Mark 3:24 NIV

These are the verse I thought of as I read this story in 1 Kings:

“Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who had served his father Solomon during his lifetime. “How would you advise me to answer these people?” he asked. They replied, “If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants.” But Rehoboam rejected the advice the elders gave him and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him. He asked them, “What is your advice? How should we answer these people who say to me, ‘Lighten the yoke your father put on us’?” The young men who had grown up with him replied, “These people have said to you, ‘Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but make our yoke lighter.’ Now tell them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist. My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.’ ”

When all Israel saw that the king refused to listen to them, they answered the king: “What share do we have in David, what part in Jesse’s son? To your tents, Israel! Look after your own house, David!” So the Israelites went home.

When all the Israelites heard that Jeroboam had returned, they sent and called him to the assembly and made him king over all Israel. Only the tribe of Judah remained loyal to the house of David. “When Rehoboam arrived in Jerusalem, he mustered all Judah and the tribe of Benjamin—a hundred and eighty thousand able young men—to go to war against Israel and to regain the kingdom for Rehoboam son of Solomon. But this word of God came to Shemaiah the man of God: “Say to Rehoboam son of Solomon king of Judah, to all Judah and Benjamin, and to the rest of the people, ‘This is what the Lord says: Do not go up to fight against your brothers, the Israelites. Go home, every one of you, for this is my doing.’ ” So they obeyed the word of the Lord and went home again, as the Lord had ordered.”

1 Kings 12:6-11, 16, 20-24 NIV

-LMM

Photo by kyle smith on Unsplash

Like a Child

Sometimes we want God to reveal himself the way we want Him to instead of relying on how He chooses to reveal Himself to us. Not unlike some of us, the Jews wanted signs from heaven (God to show His power and so believe in God) and Greeks wanted human wisdom to understand and believe in God. The power of the Holy Spirit does not need our human wisdom (God actually says it won’t be received through human wisdom), persuasive speech, nor cleverness. Just like the example of Paul, we see being a good steward of preaching the simple Good News of the gospel and allowing the Holy Spirit in its wisdom to do its mysterious work in peoples lives (if people are willing to receive) is all that is required.

When I read these verses, it makes sense why Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” -Luke 18:17. Children don’t need things to be complex and proved in their life over and over again to know what is true and real. It’s not gullibility that makes children believe, I think it’s their humble willingness to receive what the Holy Spirit is showing them to be true. This makes it incredibly important for us to know what our children are being taught by others… and important that we are teaching them truth.

“And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God.” -1 Corinthians 2:4-5 NLT

“Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe. It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom.” -1 Corinthians 1:21-22 NLT

-LMM

Contentment

I’ve been talking to Scott recently about the contentment I’ve been experiencing. When I read this Psalm today, it resonated within me that this is why I’ve been content and at peace. Thank you God for your Word that satisfies me and teaches me how to have hope and rest in You.

“Lord, my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. I don’t concern myself with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp. Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself, like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk. Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, put your hope in the Lord — now and always.”
‭ -Psalms‬ ‭131:1-3‬ ‭NLT‬‬

-LMM

Masterpiece

We are God’s masterpiece. He sees us as His people, His handiwork, and His inheritance. Who we are (our character to reflect we are His people), works (what we say and do to bring glory to God), and inheritance (the spiritual blessing we receive) is the process God uses to produce spiritual maturity in us. It allows us to be blessed and become a blessing on Earth. We must conform to the view of how God sees us, our true identity, in order to grow and become confident in who we are, how we act and what we receive.

“In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians will go to Egypt and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing on the earth. The Lord Almighty will bless them, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance.”” -‭Isaiah 19:23-25 NIV‬

We see that the Egyptians and Assyrians have a highway connecting them and they worshipped together. This is beautiful imagery of how our character, who we are (being His people) produces fruit, our faith in practice (His handiwork) go together in worship of God. When we submit to and worship God in faith by who we are and what we do, we can trust that we are His children (His inheritance) who receive eternal life. ‬‬

Egypt- “His people”: “You can be sure of this: The Lord set apart the godly for himself…..” -‭‭Psalms‬ ‭4:3‬ ‭NLT‬‬

We are seen as God’s people when our character reflects the image of God in holiness and righteousness. We become followers of Christ when we believe in Him and His promises.

Assyria- “His handiwork”: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” -‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭2:10‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Our faith is put into practice. We are seen as God’s handiwork when we obey His call and live out our lives as His hands and feet, for His plans, purposes and glory.

Israel- “His inheritance”: “All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.” -‭‭Revelation‬ ‭21:7‬ ‭NLT

We are heirs. Sons and daughters who receive the gift of grace and inherit all that God has planned for those who love Him as their Father and submit to His Lordship in their life.

 

-LMM

Photo by Steven Magner on Unsplash

Good is not Good Enough

How many people think they can just be a good person? The Bible tells us that our sinful nature is contrary to the Spirit, so without the Spirit of God, can we truly be “good” according to God’s standards?

You cannot become a new creation by trying to create yourself. Only God can create. We are the stewards of His creation. We are the product and glory of His creation. If we try to create in us what we think He wants us to be, we will forever be hoping our efforts are enough (legalism) and be nothing more than a fake copy, not original. And more than that, God will not be glorified in our actions if what we do is based on human effort. The bleak truth is that our trying to live outward change will never reflect the inward heart and mind transformation, meaning our actions and words simply become behavior modification instead of becoming a true new identity, a new creation. Trust in these verses:

“And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.” -Ezekiel 36:26-27 NLT

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” -Romans 12:2 NLT

“It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation.” -Galatians 6:15 NLT

Being a new creation means that God frees us from the law as we see in Galatians 5:1, “So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.”

Galatians 3:24-25 says, “The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith. And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian.”

When we receive the Spirit of God, we are lead by the Spirit and crucify our sinful desires that were similar to what the law was forbidding us to do.

“So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses. When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.” -Galatians 5:16-25

There is no law against the fruits of the Spirit! When the Spirit is leading our thoughts, feelings, desires, speech and actions, then we don’t need the law because the Spirit will not do anything contrary to the law. God didn’t want us to have a list of yes and no rules to obey. His desire was a relationship with us through His Spirit because of Jesus. He wants us to obey out of a genuine desire in our hearts and minds and that requires that our life is transformed into a new creation that only God can provide through His Spirit.

“When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth.” -Psalm 104:30
-LMM

Modern Day Idols

What are we sacrificing by worshipping our modern-day idols? Everything that we put before God, we are sacrificing our relationship with Him and worshipping something else. We are saying we don’t need you God; we need _____.

As I read through the book of Hosea, what was made clear to me was how a rebellious spirit leads to sin, sacrifices acknowledgement of God, and perverts our understanding of who God is and His will, making us foolish. Chaos abounds. We see that in these scriptures:

“Hear the word of the Lord, O people of Israel! The Lord has brought charges against you, saying: “There is no faithfulness, no kindness, no knowledge of God in your land. You make vows and break them; you kill and steal and commit adultery. There is violence everywhere— one murder after another… My people are being destroyed because they don’t know me. Since you priests refuse to know me, I refuse to recognize you as my priests. Since you have forgotten the laws of your God, I will forget to bless your children. The more priests there are, the more they sin against me. They have exchanged the glory of God for the shame of idols.”-Hosea 4:1-2, 6-7 NLT

“Their arrogance testifies against them, yet they don’t return to the Lord their God or even try to find him… They do not cry out to me with sincere hearts. Instead, they sit on their couches and wail. They cut themselves, begging foreign gods for grain and new wine, and they turn away from me.”-Hosea 7:10, 14 NLT

“Now Israel pleads with me, ‘Help us, for you are our God!’ But it is too late. The people of Israel have rejected what is good, and now their enemies will chase after them. The people have appointed kings without my consent, and princes without my approval. By making idols for themselves from their silver and gold, they have brought about their own destruction.” -Hosea 8:2-4 NLT

I was challenged to think, what do we put before God in this generation? What idols are we worshipping that make us foolish and what are we sacrificing to keep that idol in our life? 

Selfishness– maybe our entitled, prideful, arrogant, stubborn and critical attitudes have left us to sacrifice true thanksgiving toward God, humble discernment, optimistic hope and empathy and compassion toward others. Maybe we are shining in our fleshly desires while sacrificing the spirit of God.

Fear/doubt– maybe we let fear or doubt rule over us, and we sacrifice our faith and trust in our God who has proven faithful time and time again if we would just remember the promises He has fulfilled and how He has and always will remain sovereign.

Anger/bitterness– maybe we allow our emotions to rule over us and we sacrifice practicing love and forgiveness in our life.

Success– maybe we are defining success not according to how God defines it in our life, and we are sacrificing our resources (time, money, effort, energy, life) for things that won’t satisfy, fulfill us.

Identity– maybe we have given ourselves authority to define who we are and are sacrificing God’s Lordship to define who we are. We are rejecting the image of His beautiful creation (thinking we know better than He does) and denying His glory and masterpiece He designed us to be.

Freedom– maybe we are abusing our freedom and sacrificing our character and integrity.

Work– maybe we are defining our value and worth based on a purpose we weren’t created for and we are sacrificing or outright ignorant to the talents and abilities God is trying to equip us to do that would give us lasting purpose.

Sex– maybe we are using connection with others on every level- emotional, physical, spiritual, psychological to fill a void in our life that only God was meant to fill and we are sacrificing acknowledgment of God and our relationship with Him. Our fulfillment in all these levels will never be satisfied.

Government/politics: maybe we’ve put our hope in the power of our government to protect, provide and care for us and we are sacrificing the Savior, Jehovah- Jireh and Jehovah- Rophe in our life who has the true power to provide all our needs, heal us and protect us.

Money/Materialism– maybe we care and put value things and we sacrifice our resources (time and money) that should be spent on people. Maybe we are chasing our wants and sacrificing our needs.

If we struggle with any of these idols, let us be willing to repent and read the last chapter of Hosea. God speaks hope, truth, grace and mercy into our sinful hearts, ready to receive us back that we may praise and glorify Him in true worship.

“Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God, for your sins have brought you down. Bring your confessions and return to the Lord. Say to him, “Forgive all our sins and graciously receive us, so that we may offer you our praises. Assyria cannot save us, nor can our warhorses. Never again will we say to the idols we have made, ‘You are our gods.’ No, in you alone do the orphans find mercy.” The Lord says, “Then I will heal you of your faithlessness; my love will know no bounds, for my anger will be gone forever. I will be to Israel like a refreshing dew from heaven. Israel will blossom like the lily; it will send roots deep into the soil like the cedars in Lebanon… “O Israel, stay away from idols! I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from me.” Let those who are wise understand these things. Let those with discernment listen carefully. The paths of the Lord are true and right, and righteous people live by walking in them. But in those paths sinners stumble and fall.”-Hosea 14:1-5, 8-9 NLT

-LMM

 

Trinity Works

This verse is a beautiful description of how the trinity works in our life. God, by His wonderful design, generously gave us Jesus and pours out His Spirit on us. The Holy Spirit is given to all who receive Jesus as Savior. The Holy Spirit is a big part of how God makes us a new creation, gives us a life giving purpose, and helps us become the people God designed us to be. The Holy Spirit is how God communicates His will to us and He gives us gifts. Jesus, our Lord, who sacrificially saved us, also became a man but was still God. He gave us the example and standard for how to serve. Our desire is to be more like Him as His disciples, walking in His ways, and learning how to serve with the gifts God has given us. The ways we are called to serve with our spiritual gifts, God is able to do His miraculous work of glorifying Himself and revealing Himself to others through us. 

 

“There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.” –1 Corinthians 12:4-7 NLT

 

“He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior.” –Titus 3:6 NLT

 

-LMM

 

Photo by Alice Achterhof on Unsplash

It is Time to Turn to the Lord

If we have sin in our life, it’s not too late to turn to God. Solomon, Rehoboam, Jeraboam, Abjiam, all Kings, of either Judah or Israel, were said to NOT follow the Lord as David did. Their disobedience and unwillingness to repent caused division and war between their Kingdoms and destroyed their family lines for years. It’s not until Asa that we see a King who is devoted to the Lord again. Even though David did sin by taking the wife of Uriah and having Uriah killed, he repented and sought God’s forgiveness (Psalm 51). God’s response to David after Uriah’s death was that David was the Lord’s servant, who obeyed God’s commands and followed Him with all his heart and always did whatever God wanted. We learn from these scriptures what God thought of David and the Psalms David wrote crying out to God that God is merciful. We are never too far from God’s grace. Every chapter I would read of another King not learning the mistakes of the former King and following in the same wrong decisions, I would ask the question that can be applied to us today: How many generations of destruction will it take for us to learn to turn to the Lord and repent?

“In this way, Solomon did what was evil in the Lord’s sight; he refused to follow the Lord completely, as his father, David, had done.” -1 Kings 11:6 NLT

“But even after this, Jeroboam did not turn from his evil ways. He continued to choose priests from the common people. He appointed anyone who wanted to become a priest for the pagan shrines. This became a great sin and resulted in the utter destruction of Jeroboam’s dynasty from the face of the earth.” -1 Kings 13:33-34 NLT

(Concerning Jeroboam): “I ripped the kingdom away from the family of David and gave it to you. But you have not been like my servant David, who obeyed my commands and followed me with all his heart and always did whatever I wanted. You have done more evil than all who lived before you. You have made other gods for yourself and have made me furious with your gold calves. And since you have turned your back on me, I will bring disaster on your dynasty and will destroy every one of your male descendants, slave and free alike, anywhere in Israel. I will burn up your royal dynasty as one burns up trash until it is all gone.” -1 Kings 14:8-10 NLT

“Meanwhile, Rehoboam son of Solomon was king in Judah. During Rehoboam’s reign, the people of Judah did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, provoking his anger with their sin, for it was even worse than that of their ancestors.” -1 Kings 14:21-22 NLT

“Abijam began to rule over Judah in the eighteenth year of Jeroboam’s reign in Israel. He committed the same sins as his father before him, and he was not faithful to the Lord his God, as his ancestor David had been. But for David’s sake, the Lord his God allowed his descendants to continue ruling, shining like a lamp, and he gave Abijam a son to rule after him in Jerusalem. For David had done what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight and had obeyed the Lord’s commands throughout his life, except in the affair concerning Uriah the Hittite. “There was war between Abijam and Jeroboam throughout Abijam’s reign.” -1 Kings 15:1, 3-5 -6NLT

“Although the pagan shrines were not removed, Asa’s heart remained completely faithful to the Lord throughout his life.” -1 Kings 15:14 NLT

-LMM

God’s Beautiful Design for Wives

Eve and all women were cursed from the fall when God gave His punishment to Eve in Genesis 3:16, “….you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you.” However, God has been gracious to those who submit to His design for marriage after the fall. Only God, who meant something for a curse, can turn His design for submission into a beautiful blessing (also symbolizing Christ and the Church) instead of wives seeing it through the eyes resentment.

I have no doubt that it is easier for me to not fear what my husband will do as it says in 1 Peter 3:6, “….when you do what is right without fear of what your husbands might do”, and I count this as a blessing to be married to a Godly man. Will Scott make mistakes? Sure, but I do too and I can trust He’s trying to make the best decisions possible because I know he is seeking God. In this way I feel loved and at peace about submitting to his decisions and it brings us closer together in unity together with God through Jesus Christ.

If you are struggling with the temptation to rule over your husband, I would encourage you to try it God’s way, His design to submit to your husband and see what happens. When we do things according to God’s design, things don’t always go perfect because we are imperfect people. However, our relationship with our spouse is strengthened in love and respect in the long term when we submit to God’s design, and isn’t that more important than temporal circumstances going perfectly? I’d take my relationship submitting to God and Scott everyday, even if it meant Scott made every decision wrong because my relationship with them is what truly matters.

Our culture teaches that men can view a quiet, gentle, humble spirit as weak. So many women unfortunately feel they need to prove their value and worth by being anything but these things. Consequently, they are walking right into Satan’s trap of being tempted to control and rule over their husbands.

However, I’ve experienced that I am valued when I am humble, gentle and quiet with my husband and he in turn loves and respects me. He will then ask for my opinion about decisions and often because I didn’t come right out with my thoughts, not feeling the need to tell him what to do, and instead had taken time to think and pray, God can help me align my thoughts, attitude and motives with His. I’m then able to give wise counsel and discerning advice which Scott appreciates. I pray these verses help you live Godly marriages as they have helped Scott and I.

“In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands… You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. This is how the holy women of old made themselves beautiful. They put their trust in God and accepted the authority of their husbands. For instance, Sarah obeyed her husband, Abraham, and called him her master. You are her daughters when you do what is right without fear of what your husbands might do.” -1 Peter 3:1, 4-6 NLT

“For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” -Ephesians 5:22-24, 33 NLT

“For the believing wife brings holiness to her marriage, and the believing husband brings holiness to his marriage. Otherwise, your children would not be holy, but now they are holy.” -1 Corinthians 7:14 NLT

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” -1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NLT

-LMM

 

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

A Leader’s Prayer

True leaders come to God with a humble and contrite heart over the sins of people they are leading, setting the true example of how we should come before God regarding our sins and disobedience. Leaders like Ezra don’t cast out the person in prayer but instead take on the responsibility of their guilt and shame for sins with them by praying, “O my God, I am utterly ashamed; I blush to lift up my face to you. For our sins are piled higher than our heads, and our guilt has reached to the heavens.” Ezra 9:6

We see that this prayer had an affect on the people as they heard it and leads them to repentance and true submission to God’s Lordship over their life: “While Ezra prayed and made this confession, weeping and lying face down on the ground in front of the Temple of God, a very large crowd of people from Israel—men, women, and children—gathered and wept bitterly with him. Then Shecaniah son of Jehiel, a descendant of Elam, said to Ezra, “We have been unfaithful to our God, for we have married these pagan women of the land. But in spite of this there is hope for Israel. Let us now make a covenant with our God to divorce our pagan wives and to send them away with their children. We will follow the advice given by you and by the others who respect the commands of our God. Let it be done according to the Law of God.” Ezra 10:1-3 NLT

-LMM

 

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash