Archive for April, 2012

What Nehemiah Prayed For – Favor

April 30, 2012

As we journey forward in the Word discovering what and how various followers prayed to the LORD God, we have come upon Nehemiah. Nehemiah, as we are told, is the kings cupbearer which made him member of the royal court, whose responsibility was to choose wine (2:1) and safeguard it from poison. As such, Nehemiah had access to the king, Artaxerxes I, garnering prestige and influence at court.

In Nehemiah 1, his brother and other men came to visit Nehemiah in Susa. The news they shared with Nehemiah about the condition of Jerusalem and the wall greatly disheartened Nehemiah. They told him “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.” After hearing bad news, look at how Nehemiah responded.

 4 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. 5 Then I said:

   “O LORD, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands, 6let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s house, have committed against you. 7 We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.

 8 “Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, 9 but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’

 10 “They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. 11 O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.”

   I was cupbearer to the king.

Nehemiah’s emotional response revealed how deeply he cared about his people, his city and more importantly about his God. Nehemiah went beyond the emotional response to action. Many times we experience things that evoke emotional responses. Crying does not help anyone other than ourselves albeit limited and temporary. It was the fasting and prayer that creates change in us and/or in our circumstances. This is the lesson for us to learn from Nehemiah 1.

Look at the structure of Nehemiah’s prayer. First, he acknowledges and praises God for who He is and what He has promised; then, he confesses his sin and the sin of the people. Nehemiah again reemphasizes a promise that God had made. He then asks God to be attentive to his servants who delight in revering His name. NOTE: God gives special attention to those who honor and

This is what Nehemiah asks for “Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.” Favor leads to success. Success is pursuing and accomplishing the will of God. Nehemiah knew that God wanted him to help in having the wall and gates of Jerusalem repaired. When God has called us to do something, we simply need to follow Nehemiah’s process of praising God, confessing our sins, recalling His Word that supports what He has called us to do, and proceeding forth with the plan or steps God gives us. Where you are unsure, ask Him to lead you in His path of righteousness for His name sake.

We will see tomorrow what happened after that prayer for Nehemiah.

What Ezra Prayed For – Separation for Hope

April 29, 2012

In seeking What Should I pray For?, we have seen that God responds to A Broken Spirit and A Contrite Heart. Once more in our text today, we see beginnings of that in Ezra 10. In this passage, we see that after we confess our sins to God that we must have an action plan to avoid/eliminate those sins. In Ezra 9, The people of Israel, including the priests and the Levites, have not kept themselves separate from the neighboring peoples with their detestable practices, like those of the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians and Amorites. 2 They have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, and have mingled the holy race with the peoples around them. And the leaders and officials have led the way in this unfaithfulness.”

In  Ezra 10:12, the people recognized their guilt and accepted the call to respond to separate from their forbidden wives. It was proposed that they may have said something like this “We have sinned in mingling with the heathen, and have thereby been in danger, not only of being corrupted by them, for we are frail, but of being lost among them, for we are few; we are therefore convinced that there is an absolute necessity of our separating from them again.” About the matter, Matthew Henry stated that “There is hope concerning people when they are convinced, not only that it is good to part with their sins, but that it is indispensably necessary: we must do it, or we are undone.” Because of the captivity and God’s proclamation about why they were in captivity, the people knew they were undone if they did not repent – turning back to Jehovah.

When we sin, we must take action to separate ourselves from that sin for it is our only hope. Hear what Shecaniah son of Jehiel, one of the descendants of Elam, said to Ezra, “We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women from the peoples around us. But in spite of this, there is still hope for Israel. 3 Now let us make a covenant before our God to send away all these women and their children, in accordance with the counsel of my lord and of those who fear the commands of our God.” The call to repentance was so important to Ezra that “A proclamation was then issued throughout Judah and Jerusalem for all the exiles to assemble in Jerusalem. 8 Anyone who failed to appear within three days would forfeit all his property, in accordance with the decision of the officials and elders, and would himself be expelled from the assembly of the exiles.” Unfortunately, nothing gets our attention like loosing money or possessions. The people appeared and heard what Ezra had to say which was “You have been unfaithful; you have married foreign women, adding to Israel’s guilt. 11 Now make confession to the LORD, the God of your fathers, and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples around you and from your foreign wives.”

They realized that not all men had taken forbidden wives as well as that the matter was too great to address in that one sitting while it was raining. The leadership recognized they needed the right time, right conditions and more importantly, the right people – the men who had been unfaithful by marrying foreign women which added to Israel’s guilt. It was not just the men who married foreign women that created Israel’s guilt before God. Remember that the  leaders served/worshiped other gods, that’s when God was provoked to anger. In many of those instances, God allowed a people to attach and subdue Israel. For those who had, the action of repentance seemed strange and wrong – to separate themselves from the women and the children they had with them. On the surface, it seems odd that God would condone such behavior; however, considering that God had forbidden them to marry them in the first place because Israel was His chosen people and that God had not intended for the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians and Amorites to share in the blessings of Israel, it was not strange. As they say, favor isn’t fair.

When we sin, we need to take whatever action to separate ourselves from that thing or person from which our sin revolves. Now, I am not advocating that men today walk away from responsibility, but I am advocating that we stay away from that which God has already forbade – What Ezra Prayed For – Separation for Hope. Seek the LORD God to find out what you might need to separate yourself from in order to experience the hope that He offers you.

What Ezra Prayed For – Their Sins

April 27, 2012

In the post What Ezra Prayed For – Intermarriage, Ezra addressed the peoples’ unfaithfulness. Some in Israel had disobeyed God’s command not to intermarry with certain peoples God had identified, but they had taken “some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, and have mingled the holy race with the peoples around them. And the leaders and officials have led the way in this unfaithfulness.”

When Ezra prayed for their sins, we did not see how he approached the LORD God. I believe it is key in helping us understand ABroken Spirit and A Contrite Heart. Listen to the revelation of Ezra’s heart in a part of his prayer:

5 Then, at the evening sacrifice, I rose from my self-abasement, with my tunic and cloak torn, and fell on my knees with my hands spread out to the LORD my God 6 and prayed:

   “O my God, I am too ashamed and disgraced to lift up my face to you, my God, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens. 7 From the days of our forefathers until now, our guilt has been great. Because of our sins, we and our kings and our priests have been subjected to the sword and captivity, to pillage and humiliation at the hand of foreign kings, as it is today.

8 “But now, for a brief moment, the LORD our God has been gracious in leaving us a remnant and giving us a firm place in his sanctuary, and so our God gives light to our eyes and a little relief in our bondage. 9 Though we are slaves, our God has not deserted us in our bondage. He has shown us kindness in the sight of the kings of Persia: He has granted us new life to rebuild the house of our God and repair its ruins, and he has given us a wall of protection in Judah and Jerusalem.

 10 “But now, O our God, what can we say after this? For we have disregarded the commands 11 you gave through your servants the prophets when you said: ‘The land you are entering to possess is a land polluted by the corruption of its peoples. By their detestable practices they have filled it with their impurity from one end to the other. 12 Therefore, do not give your daughters in marriage to their sons or take their daughters for your sons. Do not seek a treaty of friendship with them at any time, that you may be strong and eat the good things of the land and leave it to your children as an everlasting inheritance.’

 13 “What has happened to us is a result of our evil deeds and our great guilt, and yet, our God, you have punished us less than our sins have deserved and have given us a remnant like this. 14 Shall we again break your commands and intermarry with the peoples who commit such detestable practices? Would you not be angry enough with us to destroy us, leaving us no remnant or survivor? 15 O LORD, God of Israel, you are righteous! We are left this day as a remnant. Here we are before you in our guilt, though because of it not one of us can stand in your presence.”

In those verses, I hope that you saw Ezra’s realization of sin and how unworthy he is in approaching God. He said, ““O my God, I am too ashamed and disgraced to lift up my face to you, my God, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens.” How many times have we felt ashamed and disgraced to lift up our face to God in prayer? For me, it is not as much as I should. More often than not, I rely to heavily on the grace and mercy of God without realizing how sinful I am and save through the sacrifice of Jesus I would not know God being unable to approach Him.

Read the passage of above and ask God to help you understand the depth of your sin and the blessing you have in having a relationship with Him if you have surrendered your life to Jesus as Savior and Lord.

What Ezra Prayed For – Intermarriage

April 26, 2012

Again, I am amazed at my mighty God. He continues to speak to His people through His faithfulness to Himself and His promises. More than anything, God is saying to us that He is faithful. He is the only Promise Keeper. God keeps His promises. On the contrary, we are always demonstrating how unfaithful we are to the LORD God. I am sure that the title of today’s post will create a sharp interest, but it’s not what you think. Let’s dig in.

Our text today is Ezra 9. Intermarriage is the topic de jour. Intermarriage of different ethnic groups was not the problem. It was that the Israelites, by God’s covenant with them, had been set apart for His use. God had told them not to intermarry because those who did not believe in Him would lead them astray as they served and worshiped their gods rather than the one true God. In doing so, the Israelites make themselves unfit or as it is commonly said “unclean” for service to Jehovah and subject to His discipline. God forewarned the Israelites of this in Deuteronomy 7. Hear the Word of the Lord:

1 When the LORD your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations—the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you— 2 and when the LORD your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. 3 Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, 4 for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, and the LORD’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you. 

This is the big problem. Some of the leaders, who are supposed to serve as examples, were the ones leading the people in their unfaithfulness to Jehovah. Listen to verse 2 ” 2 They have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, and have mingled the holy race with the peoples around them. And the leaders and officials have led the way in this unfaithfulness.” While it is clear that is was not all of the leaders and officials, it was enough to influence the people. Who are you leading astray? Who’s leading you askew? Who are you joining yourself with in acting in ways contrary to Jehovah, the one true God?

Ezra’s response demonstrated his realization of the greatness of the sin of the people. Tearing the rope shows his grief. While ripping out his hair was not customary, it also showed his concern with the sin of the Israelites. He was not alone. Verse 4 says “Then everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel gathered around me because of this unfaithfulness of the exiles. And I sat there appalled until the evening sacrifice.” We know from Isaiah 66:2 that their response is what God loves and is what evokes His grace and mercy. To remind you Isaiah 66:2 says,  “This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.”

God had told them not to marry those who did not serve and worship Him, but they did not obey God. All that God had said would result occurred. God’s Word can be trusted whether it results in blessing or curses (discipline). Paul reaffirmed God’s stances in 2 Corinthians 6:14-15: “14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?” What God says will happen will happen. Let’s obey and blessed.

What We Should Pray For – A Broken Spirit and A Contrite Heart

April 25, 2012

So far into our excursion into What Should I pray For?, we have seen a consistent concept. God wants to have fellowship with man, but through man’s sin, fellowship with God is consistently broken. Isaiah puts it this way – “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” Despite that, God repeatedly pursues man offering him another opportunity to renew his relationship with God. Whether in 2 Chronicles 33 or 2 Chronicles 36 or in any other part of the Word of God, there is one constant that enables man to renew his relationship with God: A Broken Spirit and A Contrite Heart. This notion is explicitly stated in the Word in several places.

Psalm 5:16-17 

16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise.

Isaiah 57:14-16

14 And it will be said:

   “Build up, build up, prepare the road!
Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people.”
15 For this is what the high and lofty One says—
he who lives forever, whose name is holy:
“I live in a high and holy place,
but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly
and to revive the heart of the contrite.
16 I will not accuse forever,
nor will I always be angry,
for then the spirit of man would grow faint before me—
the breath of man that I have created.

Isaiah 66:2

2 Has not my hand made all these things,
and so they came into being?”
declares the LORD.

   “This is the one I esteem:
he who is humble and contrite in spirit,
and trembles at my word.

The Apostle Paul conveys the same concept to the Corinthians. He had written them a letter. On the surface, it appears that what Paul said made them sorrowful. Here Paul distinguishes between godly sorrow and worldly sorrow. Hear the Word of God.

9 yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. 10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 11 See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done.

Paul says that “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death”. What Should We Pray For – A Broken Spirit and A Contrite Heart. We see repentance in all verses referenced today. Paul clarifies it further stating that when our spirit is broken and our heart is contrite – godly sorrow – we repent and that leads us to salvation. Salvation from our rebellion against God. Salvation from the consequence of being separated from God to the point that He hides His face from us so that He will not hear. That’s no fellowship. The Reformed Study Bible says it this way: “Turning from sin, a sincere decision to forsake a specific sin (or sins) and begin to obey God. Here, the term does not specifically refer to initial repentance that must accompany true saving faith (Mark 1:15Acts 3:1917:3026:20), but to a turning from sin in the life of a Christian.” “Salvation” here means not initial conversion, but growth and progress in the Christian life. Ordinary Christian growth will include times of profound sorrow for remaining sin. Worldly grief is defined as regret and sorrow of different kinds that do not seek forgiveness in Christ. Just feeling bad but there is not desire to reconcile ourselves to God.

Remember, none of our lives are hidden before God. He sees it all. God wants us to respond to His rebuke with A Broken Spirit and A Contrite Heart. This is the remedy to overcome our separation from God caused by our sin. Seek Him while we can.

I Am Moved – Pray with Me

April 24, 2012

As I have been reading, I have seen myself in the behavior of the Israelites. God’s blessing is on them, but they ignore God. God warns them. They still ignore God. God takes action to humble them through some type of hardship which enslaves and humiliates them, but God is faithful to Himself and the promise He made. As a consequence, the Israelites are not totally destroyed.

Like the Israelites, I too am sinful in being disobedient and not fully serving the LORD, my God. He has humbled me too just as He did in 2 Chronicles 36. Here Zedekiah assumes the kingdom. Hear the Word of God:

12 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD his God and did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke the word of the LORD. 13 He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him take an oath in God’s name. He became stiff-necked and hardened his heart and would not turn to the LORD, the God of Israel. 14 Furthermore, all the leaders of the priests and the people became more and more unfaithful, following all the detestable practices of the nations and defiling the temple of the LORD, which he had consecrated in Jerusalem.

The Fall of Jerusalem

 15 The LORD, the God of their fathers, sent word to them through his messengers again and again, because he had pity on his people and on his dwelling place. 16 But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the LORD was aroused against his people and there was no remedy. 17 He brought up against them the king of the Babylonians,[g] who killed their young men with the sword in the sanctuary, and spared neither young man nor young woman, old man or aged. God handed all of them over to Nebuchadnezzar. 18 He carried to Babylon all the articles from the temple of God, both large and small, and the treasures of the LORD’s temple and the treasures of the king and his officials. 19 They set fire to God’s temple and broke down the wall of Jerusalem; they burned all the palaces and destroyed everything of value there.

 20 He carried into exile to Babylon the remnant, who escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and his sons until the kingdom of Persia came to power. 21 The land enjoyed its sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested, until the seventy years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah.

 22 In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah, the LORD moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and to put it in writing:

 23 “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says:

   “‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Anyone of his people among you—may the LORD his God be with him, and let him go up.’”

Pray with me that we are consistent in our obedience and in following the lead of the Holy Spirit. God is committed to bringing about a change in us even if we have to experience severe hardships in order to accomplish it; even if it looks like God is not in control. He will do it. I Am Moved – Pray with Me

What Manasseh Prayed For – Forgiveness

April 21, 2012

Let’s face it, we all sin. In case you don’t believe it, the Word of God is replete with examples of great men of God (David, Solomon, Samson) sinning in spite of the goodness of God. Like them, I am no different, unfortunately. I am greatly disappointed at the choices I make as I am too acquainted with the goodness, mercy and grace God has extended me; yet, this is the beauty of God. He forgives, but I am sure you know that too.

As we look in 2 Chronicles 33, we see that Hezekiah has died after God extended his life as God promised He would. His son, Manasseh, succeeded him as King of Judah. Remember what God said about Hezekiah in 2 Kings 18, listen to the testimony given about Hezekiah relentless dependency and trust in the Lord God.

5 Hezekiah trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. 6He held fast to the LORD and did not cease to follow him; he kept the commands the LORD had given Moses. 7 And the LORD was with him; he was successful in whatever he undertook. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him.

While that was stated about Hezekiah, God did not have such a favorable description of Manasseh. In 2 Chronicles 33, God gave the following testimony:

1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. 2 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, following the detestable practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites. 3 He rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had demolished; he also erected altars to the Baals and made Asherah poles. He bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshiped them. 4 He built altars in the temple of the LORD, of which the LORD had said, “My Name will remain in Jerusalem forever.” 5 In both courts of the temple of the LORD, he built altars to all the starry hosts. 6 He sacrificed his sons in the fire in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, practiced sorcery, divination and witchcraft, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the LORD, provoking him to anger.

When Manasseh served/worshiped other gods, that’s when God was provoked to anger. Once more, God tried to reach out to Manasseh to speak to him, but Manasseh ignored him, “so the LORD brought against them the army commanders of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh prisoner, put a hook in his nose, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon.” God will often give us chance after chance to get something right waiting on us to correct our wrong. When we don’t, God will take action to humble us.

Listen to how Manasseh responded once God bound and shackled him. “12 In his distress he sought the favor of the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. 13 And when he prayed to him, the LORD was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD is God.” What Manasseh Prayed For was Forgiveness. By God’s grace, Manasseh was not destroyed and given another opportunity humble himself and worship the LORD God.

Are you surrendering and serving something or someone else instead the LORD God? If you are, consider taking advantage of God’s willingness to allow you to humble yourself before God humbles you. It is always less hurtful when we humble ourselves versus God humbling us. Regardless, we find, like Manasseh, God waiting to hear our humble prayer inviting God to move and act on our behalf. “When he prayed to him, the LORD was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea” He’s waiting. Don’t delay.

What Hezekiah Prayed For – Against Apostasy and the Folly of Indolence

April 19, 2012

In the upcoming presidential campaign, we will hear a great deal about the national debt. Everyone from the part-time worker to the president loves to save for a rainy day. Almost all of us want to invest in our futures by hiding away a few dollars. Investing in ourselves is not something we struggle to do, but how we invest or the soundness of our investments is the question. In Proverbs 6, God gives us a model to consider:

6 Go to the ant, you sluggard;
consider its ways and be wise!
7 It has no commander,
no overseer or ruler,
8 yet it stores its provisions in summer
and gathers its food at harvest.

 9 How long will you lie there, you sluggard?
When will you get up from your sleep?
10 A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest—
11 and poverty will come on you like a bandit
and scarcity like an armed man

God tells us to consider the ways of the ant and be wise. In essence, God is saying do as the ant does. Following in the path of the ant is wise. The ant was methodical in storing away for the season where he could no longer work. Jesus weighed in on this matter when He said “4 As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.” (John 9:3-5) Clearly, there is a time of sowing and a time of harvest.

Arguably, there is no greater example of this than in the life of Hezekiah. I am not sure if you have ever been told that your days are limited in conjunction with a specific condition that gives credence to a reality that we have known all our lives, but the imminency of the condition brings that reality into sharp focus. In 2 Kings 20, this is revealed to us when He became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, “This is what the LORD says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.”

Without question, Hezekiah was shaken. “Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, 3 “Remember, O LORD, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.” Hezekiah had been like the ant. He had steadily worked for the LORD while he lived especially in his service as king. He kept the ways of God. Remember what God said about him in 2 Kings 18. “5 Hezekiah trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. 6 He held fast to the LORD and did not cease to follow him; he kept the commands the LORD had given Moses. 7 And the LORD was with him; he was successful in whatever he undertook. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him. ”

As a consequence, this is how God responded to Hezekiah’s prayer. ” 4 Before Isaiah had left the middle court, the word of the LORD came to him: 5 “Go back and tell Hezekiah, the leader of my people, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. On the third day from now you will go up to the temple of the LORD. 6 I will add fifteen years to your life. And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city for my sake and for the sake of my servant David.’” 2 Kings 20

Hezekiah had lived his life based on the promise of God. When Hezekiah prayed, God recognized his investment and extended his life. While this is not the rule in which God will automatically add days to our lives, it serves as a testimony that when we invest in God by devoting ourselves to Him and working diligently we reap the benefits of wise living like the ant. “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!”

What Hezekiah Prayed For – Deliverance

April 18, 2012

Okay folks, today’s post will be rich and full with text from today’s scriptural reference – 2 Kings 18-19. You must read  the text in order for you to get the benefit. I promise that it will not take you more than 10 minutes to read it, but the blessing will last a life time.

As you know, we all face challenges. In our text today, Hezekiah, King of Judah, faced a seeming insurmountable challenge. Several kings of Assyria had marched against several cities, including those of Judah and Samaria, laying siege to them. Now, Hezekiah faced a challenge from Sennacherib king of Assyria who sent word to Hezekiah and the people saying “Do not let Hezekiah deceive you. He cannot deliver you from my hand. 30 Do not let Hezekiah persuade you to trust in the LORD when he says, ‘The LORD will surely deliver us; this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.” “Do not listen to Hezekiah, for he is misleading you when he says, ‘The LORD will deliver us.’ 33 Has the god of any nation ever delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria? Sennacherib made several calls for the people to not to trust in the Lord via what Hezekiah told and led them. Sennacherib was attempting to cause the people not to trust in the Lord God.

Life circumstance and people will attempt to draw you away from the Lord, for you not to depend and trust in the Lord for your strength and survival. Resist the devil and he will flee. We must do exactly like Hezekiah. We must humble ourselves and pray in total dependency on God to be true to what He promised. In 2 Kings 19, Hezekiah prayed:

And Hezekiah prayed to the LORD: “O LORD, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 16 Give ear, O LORD, and hear; open your eyes, O LORD, and see; listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to insult the living God.

 17 “It is true, O LORD, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste these nations and their lands. 18They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by men’s hands. 19Now, O LORD our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O LORD, are God.”

Through the prophet Isaiah, God sent the answer to his prayer. “20 Then Isaiah son of Amoz sent a message to Hezekiah: “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I have heard your prayer concerning Sennacherib king of Assyria.” You must read verses 21-34 to hear what God said, but I want to share with you what God did. “35 That night the angel of the LORD went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies! 36 So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. He returned to Nineveh and stayed there.  37 One day, while he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisroch, his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer cut him down with the sword, and they escaped to the land of Ararat. And Esarhaddon his son succeeded him as king.”

God will do what He said He would do. No matter what you are facing, remain vigilant to trusting the Lord God, your God. As a believer in Christ, we should aspire to trusting the Lord God regardless of the enormity of the challenge. In 2 Kings 18, listen to the testimony given about Hezekiah relentless dependency and trust in the Lord God.

5 Hezekiah trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. 6He held fast to the LORD and did not cease to follow him; he kept the commands the LORD had given Moses. 7 And the LORD was with him; he was successful in whatever he undertook. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him.

We see in 2 Kings 19 that God answered Hezekiah’s prayer keeping His promise to Hezekiah by delivering Jerusalem and killing Sennacherib king of Assyria. When God promises deliverance for us, He will do it because He has promised in His Word:  “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23 Pray for deliverance in your life; listen to God’s response, and trust in what He tells you.

What Elisha Prayed For – Sight

April 17, 2012

Sight is one of the senses God gave us to enjoy Him. We can see the beauty of all His creations with our eyes. While that is true, it is also true that we can see and not see at the same time. Jesus’ disciple Thomas said, ““Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” (John 20:25) Jesus had arisen from the dead appearing to many including some of the disciples but what Thomas saw figuratively was not enough until he saw with his own eyes. Isaiah was commissioned by God to “Go and tell this people: “Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.” The people saw the power and miracles of God; yet, they did not believe in Him as the Almighty God.

Whether literally or allegorically, we know that sight is an important gift and ability. This is so true that when I read today’s text (2 Kings 6:8-23) I just cried. I ended up prostrate crying and praising God before three sentences had been written. In 2 Kings 6:8-23, we see the prophet Elisha at work, no God at work through Elisha. Elisha was the faithful disciple of the prophet Elijah, and his successor. In this portion of the Word, the Arameans (Syrians) were at war with the Israelites, but Elisha kept warning the king of Israel of the plans of the Arameans which foiled their war plans. This frustrated the king of the Arameans that he sent people after Elisha. While Elisha and his servant at Dothan, they were found by the Arameans. Since they were found, listen to what the king of the Arameans did and what the King of Kings did. Listen to the Word of the LORD God!

14 Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city.

 15 When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” the servant asked.

 16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

 17 And Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

 18 As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the LORD, “Strike these people with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked.

 19 Elisha told them, “This is not the road and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will lead you to the man you are looking for.” And he led them to Samaria.

The king of the Arameans had surrounded them with chariots and horses. First, the servant did not see what Elisha saw, so Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.” Then, the servant saw what he did not initially realize – that the King of Kings had “the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” Elisha prays that the servant would see something that does not appear to the naked eye: God’s heavenly armies waiting to do battle with the Syrians. From that we can truly and accurately deduce that God surrounds His people. Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah!!!

Next, we see Elisha prayed “Strike these people with blindness.” So God struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked. The enemy did not have any advantage, strength or power over them that God did not want them to have. The “LORD foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.” (Psalm 33:10). Once blind, the Arameans were led by the very one whom they sought to capture. Not only did he lead them, but he led them to an adversary who could have easily killed them; yet, the grace of God and the peace of God prevailed. Against all logic, Elisha told them not to kill the Arameans but to feed them. Talking about loving your enemies, but it led to peace.

Elisha prayed for the Sightof believer and unbeliever alike. While one who could physically see and the other could not, Elisha prayed that both would see God, and the servant and the Arameans saw God experiencing His peace. What threats are you seeing right now? In the Words of Elisha, 6 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 And Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.” May God open our eyes that we might see.