After Israel was divided, the northern and the southern kingdoms were often at war with each other. On this occasion, Abijah, king of Judah had amassed 400,000 select troups and Jeroboam, king of Israel, had gathered 800,000 select warriors. From the human viewpoint, it was fairly easy to see who would win the war, but God had other plans. Judah had the original powerful weapon of mass destruction on their side. They trusted in God. They still worshipped God as they were supposed to but Israel had polluted their worship service with false prophets and false priests. God only accepts purity, He will not accept being one of many gods, when He is the only true and living God. Even though Judah had enemy troops behind them and in front of them and they were outnumbered two to one, they showed no fear, but trusted God to do what He promised to do. This obedience and trust in God resulted in God winning the battle for them. “God defeated Jeroboam and all of Israel”. All Judah had to do was the “mopping up” and retrieve the bounty. If we refuse to accept God’s gift of salvation and love, then we will have to face His wrath. No one can stand against the wrath of God. The only time satan thought He had defeated God, he soon learned that was his worst defeat. Do not be deceived by appearances and false claims, there is only ONE GOD! He is the Victor and only through Him will we obtain the victory!
God is so good and merciful. He gives us opportunity after opportunity to repent and return to worshipping Him and Him alone. He had blessed all of Israel with forty years of peace and wealth beyond measure. Yet, here they were, back to worshipping idols. God had split the kingdom into Israel, the northern kingdom and Judah, the southern kingdom because of the iniquities of the people. Rehoboam, the son of Solomon was the king of the southern kingdom and reigned in Judah from Jerusalem. For a while, he was faithful to God, but then, he returned to idol worship and God sent Shishak and the Egyptian army to destroy Judah. After Shishak had taken the fortified towns in Judah, he advanced on Jerusalem. The king and the leaders of the people in Jerusalem humbled themselves so God did not allow Shishak to destroy Jerusalem, but He did allow Shishak to take all the wealth from Jerusalem and made the inhabitants his servants. God saw that there were still some good things in the land of Judah, so He relented. We need to pray that God will see that there are still some good things in our country and not destroy us yet. We need to pray that we and our leaders will humble ourselves under the mighty hand of the one true and Almighty God. We have had our warnings, let us pray fervently that God continues to show His great mercy and compassion on this nation.
Most of us are familiar with the story of Job and all of the trials and troubles that he endured. God allowed satan to test Job, taking everything from him, except his wife. At first, God only allowed satan to take his possesions and his children, but satan was not allowed to touch Job, After satan’s whining, God allowed him to injure Job’s physical body.
Job complained about the injustice of it all and made some unwise comments about God. But, through it all, He refused to deny God, even though his wife entreated him to do so. God uses this time in Job’s life to give Job and us a glimpse into the future. Job not only understood that he needed a Redeemer but that God would send one. That Redeemer would not only stand upon the earth in the end times, but Job would be there with him just as you and I will be. After our bodies have decayed in the grave, we will be resurrected and we will see Him with our own eyes. God gave Job this glimpse into the future to sustain him through his time of testing. Those of us living on this side of the cross, after the Resurrection of Jesus, have so much more reason to be encouraged than Job did. Job could only see the Redeemer in the future, we have the advantage of knowing that the Redeemer has come and is coming again. We, like Job, must not focus on the things that we can see now, but on those things that are coming that we cannot see now. Our God is able to bring us through it all.
David had arranged for all the building materials to complete the Temple that Solomon built to honor God and to serve as God’s dwelling place on earth. This was the place that all of Israel would come to worship God with their offerings. Other than for special purposes, the Holy Spirit had not come to earth. It would be after the Resurrection that He would come and abide in each believer. Did God really live in the Temple? No, but His presence filled the Temple. On some occasions, His presence was so real and powerful that the priests were unable to enter the Temple. As Solomon implied, there is no physical building that could contain God. The only Temple that God desires to inhabit here on earth is our bodies. He does that by abiding in our hearts. Because of that, we can worship Him anywhere, anytime because we are the Temple that He inhabits. He is with us and will never leave us. We abide in HIm and He in us when His words fill our hearts and we show that He abides in us when we show His love to others by the way we live our daily lives.
There were many of the people, leaders in the religious communities and others who believed what Jesus was saying but refused to admit it in public. They were more concerned about what the Jewish leaders would say and do than they were about what Jesus said. They were afraid that they would lose their positions in the community and be removed from the synagouge. They would not admit publicly that they believed what Jesus said. When we read these verses, it is easy for us to criticize and judge these people for their lack of support for Jesus. But, if we stop, meditate and let the Holy Spirit lead us into the truth, we may just realize that we are sometimes like those people. Yes, our egos say we would never deny Jesus and perhaps, verbally we wouldn’t. However, we must look at our actions or our lack of action in certain situations. How many times have we been nudged by the Holy Spirit to say something to someone or do something for someone and by our inactions, we said “NO”. In those times, we became “secret believers” preferring silence over speaking out for Jesus, our Lord and Savior. How many times have we felt the shame when we are convicted of our inactivity by the Holy Spirit? Jesus said that “if you deny me before men, I will deny you before the Father”. If we do not speak out and our lifestyles do not show others that we are living for Jesus, then the truth of His words will judge us on the day of judgment. We must be willing to get out of our comfort zones and be ridicule, offended and persecuted because we believe the truth. There is only one God and only one Jesus who died for our sins. There is no other way to heaven.
Lazarus was wrapped head to toe with graveclothes and a headcloth, yet, when Jesus called him out, he came forth. Not walking or seeing, but transported by the power of the words that Jesus had spoken. Regardless of how seemingly impossible the task may seem, when Jesus speaks, things happen. God created the universe and everything in it by speaking them into existence. His words bring with them the power to create. Jesus said ” I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”. His words bring light and life to a world of darkness and death. We are told this many times in various ways in the Bible. In Romans, we are told that God speaks of things that are not as though they were.
Why would He do that? Because when He says they are, they become whatever He says. The lame walk, the blind see, the dead arise filled with new life. So, when we read all of the many precious promises that Jesus has made to us through His word, why do we still doubt it? When we have access to the same power that raised Jesus from the dead and seated Him at the right hand of the Father, why do we live in fear of what tomorrow might bring? When we are persecuted, why do we cower and remain silent? Let each of us speak the Word and God will provide the power and the oucome will be to His glory.
2 Then he sent them out to tell everyone about the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. 3 “Take nothing for your journey,” he instructed them. “Don’t take a walking stick, a traveler’s bag, food, money,[b] or even a change of clothes. — Luke 9:2, 3 NLT
If Jesus told us to go on a mission taking no money, food or clothes, what would our reaction be? Do we really trust God to completely supply our every need? Do we trust Him to protect us from every harm that comes our way? If not, we must ask ourselves, why not? Has He ever failed on a promise? Is our salvation not secure? If He was able to do this for the disciples, is He not able to do this for us? Every disciple came back safe and sound. God had provided their every need. We think “Oh, but society is different now, we wouldn’t be safe and people now are not as generous as they were back then.” Again, we are guilty of wrong thinkng and allowing ourselves to be decieved by satan. The right question is “Isn’t God still God, can He not do today what He did then”? And the right answer is “Yes He is and yes, He can.” If the people won’t feed us, then God can use another method, just as He did when the ravens brought meat to Elijah. Either we believe that God can and will or we don’t believe that He can and will. In a war zone, there is no neutral ground and we are living in a war zone. There is a war going on around us right now. We may not see the spiritual warriors fighting the battles, but we see the results of those battles around us every day. We see people who are deceived and refuse to believe the truth. They have eyes to see but they don’t see. They have ears to hear but they don’t hear.
Paul considered both Timothy and Titus to be his sons in the faith and as such, it was his joy and job to mentor them. Even though he left them at different churches to carry on the work that he had started, he contiuned to do this by writing them letters. In his 2nd letter to Timothy and here in this letter to Titus, Paul warns them about wasting their time in foolish talk and conversations. This type of behavior usually leads to divisions in the body of Christ. Crete was obviously well known for this type of activity since Paul quotes one of their own Cretan prophets as describing them as “liars, cruel animals and lazy gluttons”. That’s harsh condemnation of one’s fellow countrymen. However, it would not be hard to make that description fit a portion of our society today. The point Paul wants to make to Titus is that he has a tough job ahead of him. He is living among people who will make all sorts of claims and statements of their faith, but they don’t really know God and their lifestyles prove that they don’t. When we hear the Gospel of Jesus, we accept it as truth because the Holy Spirit has purified and prepared our minds to accept it. Those whose minds and consciences are corrupt will perceive all truth as being corrupt. The task for Titus was to convince them of the truth of the Gospel by his lifestyle. That is our task in our society today.
In First Corinthians, Paul uses the human body to describe the relationship and the function of each individual member of the Church. Here in his second letter to Timothy, he uses the analogy of a wealthy home with many utensils. We can assume that a wealthy home would have all the utensils needed for every task, from the lowest to the highest. That home would also have a full staff of servants with one of those designated as the chief of all of the servants. This person would be responsible for making sure that each person was assigned a specific task or tasks and also that that person would be given the exact utensils he needed to complete the task. Some will tutor the kids, some will do windows and yes, some will do the bathrooms. All of the utensils and servants are there to care for the home, the master and his family. In this analogy, God would be the Master, Jesus would be the heir and the Holy Spirit would be the taskmaster assigning the tasks and giving out the utensils necessary to perform the tasks. The home is the Kingdom of God here on earth. The Holy Spirit knows who He has gifted to perform each task and no one can do it better than that person. We are to spend our time, not in foolish discussions about temporary things of little or no consequence, here or later, but in doing the tasks that the Holy Spirit has given us to do. If we do not, the Kingdom will not function as well as it should and the world around us will grow more evil as satan moves in to take the territory that we give up. I think we can see the proof of that all around us today.
There are two things in life that we use on just about a daily basis and both of those things can be good or evil depending on our attitude toward them and our use of them. One is fire, though we don’t actually build fires every day, we use things that are formed and molded as a result of heat and fire. Fire is necessary in refining processes that allow us to have jewelry, coins and other valuable items. But that fire, uncontrolled, can be very destructive. Each year thousands of lives and homes and acres of forest are lost to fires. The trials we go through are compared to fires that refine us. We can use those times of refining to draw closer to God or we can use them as a reason to revel against God. The other, of course, is money. Money can become our idol, our master, when we spend too much time focused on earining it and using it for the wrong reasons. Or it can serve us well when we have the proper balance of work versus worship. We can use it to spread the KIngdom of God here on earth in multiple ways or we can use to purchase useless items. Both fire and money can be great servants or destructive masters. The choice is ours.
24 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money. — Matt. 6:24 NLT