2 Chronicles 17-18, 1 Timothy 5

When the Godly Live Godlessly.

2 Chronicles 17-18, 1 Timothy 5

The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later. So also good works are conspicuous, and even those that are not cannot remain hidden. 1 Timothy 5:24-25 ESV

It doesn’t take a seminary degree to understand that every human being struggles with sin. It is apparent all around us. We even see it in our own lives on a regular basis. The godly can do ungodly things. When the godless act in ungodly ways, we shouldn’t be shocked or surprised. Paul reminds us that we were once just like them. “You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil–the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God” (Ephesians 2:2 NLT). Those who do not know Christ as their Savior, do not have the capacity for living godly lives. And yet, those of us who have been redeemed through the work of Christ on the cross are still capable of turning our backs on the blessings of God and satisfying our sin nature by making God-less decisions. Jehoshaphat, the King of Judah, is a textbook example of how the godly can do ungodly things. Unlike so many of the kings of Israel and Judah, Jehoshaphat is described as a man whose “heart was courageous in the ways of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 17:6 ESV). We are told that “the Lord was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the earlier ways of his father David. He did not seek the Baals, but sought the God of his father and walked in his commandments, and not according to the practices of Israel. Therefore the Lord established the kingdom in his hand” (2 Chronicles 17:3-5 ESV). Jehoshaphat was determined to serve God, even sending his officials all across the land of Judah to teach the Law of God to the people. As a result, he enjoyed God’s blessing and a time of peace. He grew in strength and power. But then Jehoshaphat made an ungodly decision. He determined to make an alliance with King Ahab of Israel. Ahab was a godless, wicked king who was the poster boy for apostasy. He and his queen, Jezebel, were a tag team of spiritual rebellion and idolatry. But Jehoshaphat made a marriage alliance with Ahab.

What does this passage reveal about God?

One of the things that God had made perfectly clear to His people was that He expected them to live holy lives, set apart from the ways of the nations that surrounded them. God had given them His law and articulated His commands concerning all aspects of life. Jehoshaphat, of all people, should have known and understood what God’s expectations were. He had gone out of his way to ensure that his kingdom reflected his love for God and his desire to live in obedience to God’s law. There is little doubt that Jehoshaphat knew about the sins of Ahab and the rampant idolatry of the northern kingdom of Israel. Making an alliance with Ahab would have been no different than making an alliance with the Philistines, something God would have never condoned. The kingdom of Israel was living in open rebellion against God. Ahab is described in highly unflattering terms. “And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord, more than all who were before him…Ahab did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him” (1 Kings 16:30, 33 ESV). God’s hand was against Ahab, but He had made Jehoshaphat prosper. God was pleased with Jehoshaphat’s obedience and faithfulness. But what would God do when Jehoshaphat proved to be faithful and made an ungodly decision?

What does this passage reveal about man?

Jehoshaphat’s decision to make an alliance with Ahab would put him in an awkward position. Any time we determine to cozy up with the world, we will find ourselves facing the temptation to compromise on our convictions. James puts it rather bluntly. “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4 ESV). If we want to associate with the ungodly, we will find ourselves tempted to do ungodly things. And Jehoshaphat found that his innocent alliance would soon force him to make a difficult decision. Ahab would ask him to join forces with him against the Syrians. And even when God had given ample warning through His prophet, Micaiah, not to go up against the Syrians, both Ahab and Jehoshaphat would refuse to listen. They would reject the word of the Lord and listen to the lies of the false prophets. And Jehoshaphat, the godly king of Judah, would find himself fighting in a battle God had not sanctioned and surrounded by Syrian soldiers who mistook him for King Ahab. He wasn’t where he was supposed to be. His ungodly decision making had gotten him in trouble and he was faced with possible death because he had refused to listen to God. But God did not abandon him. When Jehoshaphat cried out, God heard and He answered. “And Jehoshaphat cried out, and the Lord helped him. God drew them away from him” (2 Chronicles 18:31 ESV). Jehoshaphat’s God delivered him in spite of his godless behavior. But the godless King Ahab would be struck by an errant arrow, and slowly die, propped up in his chariot.

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

We all know that we are going to sin. It is the inevitable consequences of having a sin nature. But John reminds us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 ESV). When we cry out to God, and confess our need for Him, He answers. He forgives. He cleanses. In his letter to Timothy, Paul warns his young disciple, “Do not…take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure” (1 Timothy 5:22 ESV). He also tells him, “The sins of some men are conspicuous, going before them to judgment” (1 Timothy 5:24 ESV). Such was the case of Ahab. His sins were many and painfully obvious to anyone with eyes to see. But Paul also says, “the sins of others appear later” (1 Timothy 5:24 ESV). Jehoshaphat’s sin was not quite as apparent as Ahab’s. His alliance with Ahab didn’t appear to be so wrong at first glance. But it would prove to be an ungodly decision that would have dangerous consequences. In chapter five of 1 Timothy, Paul gives his young protegé some invaluable advice concerning the conduct of those within the church. He talks about how to interact with older men and women. He tells him how to care for widows in the church. But he also warns him that there will be those whose “passions draw them away from Christ” (1 Timothy 5:11 ESV). He reports that “some have already strayed after Satan” (1 Timothy 5:15 ESV). And then he tells Timothy, “As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear” (1 Timothy 5:20 ESV). Paul was serious about godlessness among the people of God. He knew it would happen. But he also knew that it must be dealt with seriously and soberly. Sin is a constant reality, even for the believer. So we must be alert and always ready to confront it in the lives of others and confess it when it appears in our own lives. Like Jehoshaphat, when we find ourselves in trouble for having made ungodly decisions, we must cry out to God for help. We must turn to Him in repentance and allow Him to rescue and restore us. 

Father, I know all too well my capacity for making ungodly decisions. I do it far too often. But I thank You for Your faithfulness to me, allowing me to cry out to You when I get myself in trouble. You have never failed to rescue me and restore me to a right relationship with You. Give me a growing desire to do things Your way and an increasing hatred for sin – both in my life and in the life of the body of Christ. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

2 Chronicles 15-16, 1 Timothy 4

Training for Godliness.

2 Chronicles 15-16, 1 Timothy 4

For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. 1 Timothy 4:10 ESV

For Paul, godliness was the goal. It was to be the sole objective for the life of the believer. In a world filled with all kinds of distractions, it was essential that Timothy keep his eye on the prize: “the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14 ESV). Finishing well was important to Paul. It wasn’t enough to start strong. Paul wanted to complete the race of life in full stride, giving every last effort for the cause of Christ. He would later write to Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8 ESV). Paul knew that there was more to life than what was visible to the eye. He believed in a hereafter. He knew that the pursuit of godliness would prove to be beneficial “in this present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8 ESV). Peter believed this same truth and also knew that God was the one who provided means by which we could live godly lives. “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire” (2 Peter 1:3-4 ESV). Peter would go on to encourage his readers to pursue a life of godliness, telling them to “make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:5-8 ESV).

What does this passage reveal about God?

In some ways, godliness in this life is a dress rehearsal for the life to come. It is to live with God at the center of your life, focusing on Him and relying on Him for all your needs. The prophet, Azariah, told Asa, the king of Israel, “The Lord is with you while you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you” (2 Chronicles 15:2 ESV). He went on to remind Asa, “when in their distress they [Israel] turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought him, he was found by them” (2 Chronicles 15:4 ESV). In other words, when they turned to God and relied on Him, He made Himself available to them. He stepped in and provided assistance to them. When they lived godly, God-focused lives, they found themselves experiencing the power and presence of God in their lives. From his own experience, David would write of God, “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them” (Psalm 145:18-19 ESV). James would express a similar sentiment when he wrote, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (James 4:8 ESV). There is a real sense in which we must constantly remind ourselves of our desperate need for and dependence upon God. We will not only face the reality of our own sin nature, but the constant presence of a fallen world that stands diametrically opposed to Him. We will face difficulties, trials, temptations and spiritual warfare in this life. Our very survival is dependent upon God. But we must seek Him. We must rely upon Him. We must put our hope and trust in Him.

What does this passage reveal about man?

Asa would start out well, but finish poorly. Early on in his reign, when faced with the presence of a massive enemy force and threatened with annihilation, he would turn to God for help. “O Lord, there is none like you to help, between the mighty and the weak. Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this multitude. O Lord, you are our God; let not man prevail against you” (2 Chronicles 14:11 ESV). And God answered, providing a great victory and a tangible reminder of the efficacy of trusting Him. Asa would go on to institute a number of religious reform, removing the false gods from the land of Judah, repairing the altar of the Lord, renewing the covenant between God and the people, and even executing those who refused to seek God. But when Asa found himself facing an eminent attack from the northern kingdom of Israel, rather than turning to God he turned to the king of Syria. He paid King Ben-hadad to break his treaty with Israel and side with Judah. And while his plan seemed to work just fine, God had a different perspective. He sent word to Asa saying, “Because you relied on the king of Syria, and did not rely on the Lord your God, the army of the king of Syria has escaped you. Were not the Ethiopians and the Libyans a huge army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet because you relied on the Lord, he gave them into your hand” (2 Chronicles 16:7-8 ESV). Asa was reminded that the last time he found himself surrounded by a formidable force, he turned to God. But this time, he had turned to Syria. God had given him a great victory over the Ethiopians and Libyans, but rather than remember what God had done, Asa came up with his own plan. God told Asa, “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him” (2 Chronicles 16:9 ESV). God wanted to provide support to Asa, but it would require that Asa be devoted to and dependent upon God.

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

Paul told Timothy, “train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:7-8 ESV). There is a sense in which we must constantly remind ourselves that the God-centered life is the sole objective of this life. We are not to allow ourselves to get off focus and distracted by the cares of this world. Paul would tell Timothy, “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him” (2 Timothy 2:3-4 ESV). My goal in life should be to please God. One of the key ways I can please God is to live in dependence on Him. When I seek Him, I will find Him. When I rely on Him, He comes through for me. When I seek His will and attempt to live life on His terms, He provides blessings beyond measure. That doesn’t mean my life will be trouble-free or without difficulties. I will face trials and temptations. I will encounter enemies along the way. But when I make godliness my goal, I will find “the eyes of the Lord run to and fro through the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him” (2 Chronicles 16:9 ESV).

Father, I want to live a godly life. I want to make You the center of my life, putting my hope, faith, and trust in You. Teach me to seek You with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. You have promised that if I seek You, I will find You. You will give strong support if my heart is blameless toward You. Show me how to make that a reality in my daily life. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

2 Chronicles 13-14, 1 Timothy 3

The Mystery of Godliness.

2 Chronicles 13-14, 1 Timothy 3

Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory. 2 Chronicles 12:1 ESV

We have already had more than enough evidence of the sinfulness of man. At one point in human history, things had gotten so bad, that God destroyed everyone on the planet, except Noah and his immediate family. The sad state of affairs that led to this devastating consequence were as follows: “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5 ESV). And even after the flood, when mankind was given a second chance, the descendants of Noah ended up in the same sad condition – living in sin and in disobedience to God. So God chose Abram, in order to create a nation with whom He would have a unique and special relationship, dwelling among them and allowing them the privilege of experiencing His presence and living as His chosen people. But even the people of God would find themselves living godless lives more often than not. And yet, along the way there were a few glimpses of goodness and godliness along the way. “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:9 ESV). The book of Hebrews describes Abel as a man of righteousness, Enoch as having pleased God, Abraham as obedient to God, and Moses as a man of faith who “considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt” (Hebrews 11:26 ESV). There have been men and women throughout history who have been faithful to God and who have lived their lives, according to the book of Hebrews, “by faith” in the promises of God. Many of these individuals never had the pleasure of seeing the ultimate fulfillment of the promise for which they waited. “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13 ESV). Their faith was in God, the one who made the promise, not the promise itself. They were willing to trust God to fulfill what He had promised to do, because they believed in His character and relied on His faithfulness.

What does this passage reveal about God?

It should amaze us when we read about a man like King Asa. “And Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God. He took away the foreign altars and the high places and broke down the pillars and cut down the Asherim and commanded Judah to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, and to keep the law and the commandment” (2 Chronicles 14:2-4 ESV). This man was like a breath of fresh air in a stagnant, polluted land. His reign would be marked by peace, and it was the direct result of his faithfulness to God. God was blessing Asa for doing what was good and right. Unlike his predecessors, he removed the idols to false gods. He commanded the people to “seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, and to keep the law and the commandments” (2 Chronicles 14:4 ESV). Asa placed his faith and hope in God, because he knew that he and the people of Israel were totally dependent upon God. “And Asa cried out to the Lord his God, ‘O Lord, there is none like you to help, between the mighty and the weak. Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this multitude. O Lord, you are our God; let not man prevail against you’” (2 Chronicles 14:11 ESV). And we’re told that the Lord defeated the Ethiopians before Asa and before Judah, and the Ethiopians fled. God responded to the faithful, dependent call of Asa. He graciously stepped in and rescued the nation of Israel from the threat of possible annihilation at the hands of a much superior enemy. All God was looking for from them was godliness. In other words, He wanted His people to be focused on Him, dependent upon Him, and faithful to Him.

What does this passage reveal about man?

Godliness was not impossible in the days of Noah, Moses, Abraham, Joseph, David, or even Asa. But it was not easy. Only on rare occasions did some of these men enjoy the indwelling presence and power of the Holy Spirit. So much of what they had to do was dependent upon them. The writer of Hebrews makes it clear that they had to live by faith. They had to place their trust and hope in God, based on nothing more than the promises of God. Asa didn’t know whether God would save he and the people of Israel, but he knew that God could. So he turned to God. Again, the writer of Hebrews reminds us, “And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets — who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated — of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth” (Hebrews 11:32-38 ESV). These people all placed their faith in God and were able to endure great trials and accomplish great deeds on God’s behalf. They key was the object of their faith: God. He was the source of their strength and salvation.

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

In his letter to Timothy, Paul writes of the conduct of the people of God, stressing how believers “ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God” (1 Timothy 3:15 ESV). He writes about offices of elder and deacon, stressing a man selected for either of these roles should be “above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money” (1 Timothy 3:2-3 ESV). They “must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain” (1 Timothy 3:9 ESV). Paul was describing godly conduct within the church, the family of God, the “pillar and buttress of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15 ESV). But then Paul gives the secret to godly conduct. He says, “Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness” (1 Timothy 3:16 ESV). Then he goes on to describe this great mystery. It is the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. In other words, it is salvation made possible through faith in Jesus Christ that makes possible the life of godliness. Man cannot achieve true godly behavior apart from Christ. Man’s salvation and redemption is made possible solely through the work accomplished by Jesus on the cross. And His sacrificial death and atoning sacrifice was proven worthy and acceptable to God by His resurrection from the dead. God raised Him back to life because His sacrifice had accomplished its objective. Jesus was “vindicated by the Spirit” through the restoration of His life by the power of the Spirit. Angels were the first to see the resurrected Christ at the tomb. Men were given the unique privilege of seeing Him alive after having seen Him die. They proclaimed this great news to anyone and everyone who would listen, saying, “He is risen!” And because He is risen, we have been given the power to live godly lives, through the power of His Spirit living within us. We can conduct our lives in a godly manner because we have been given God’s own Spirit. All because of what Jesus Christ accomplished on our behalf. God has done for mankind what we could never have done for ourselves. He has made possible the life of true godliness. And when we live in His power, as the people of God, we become the pillar and buttress of the truth, displaying the love and faithfulness of God to a world that desperately needs to see it.

Father, I cannot live a godly life without Your help. But by Your power, You have given “to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3 ESV). Thank You for sending Your Son to not only save me, but to provide the means by which I can live a life that is pleasing to You. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

2 Chronicles 11-12, 1 Timothy 2

God-less Living Vs Godly Living.

2 Chronicles 11-12, 1 Timothy 2

When the rule of Rehoboam was established and he was strong, he abandoned the law of the Lord, and all Israel with him. – 2 Chronicles 12:1 ESV

After the split of the kingdom, Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, retained two tribes – Judah and Benjamin – as well as control of the city of Jerusalem. And when he made plans to attack Jeroboam and the people of Judah, God told him, “You shall not go up or fight against your relatives. Return every man to his home, for this thing is from me” (2 Chronicles 11:4 ESV). God had brought about the split of the kingdom because of the disobedience and unfaithfulness of Solomon. Because Rehoboam listened to the word of the Lord, he was able to maintain control over the nation of Judah. He even found that those living in the northern kingdom of Israel, who were appalled by Jeroboam’s idolatry, soon joined forces with him and “they strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and for three years they made Rehoboam the son of Solomon secure, for they walked for three years in the way of David and Solomon” (2 Chronicles 11:17 ESV). In other words, they remained faithful to God for three years. Then something happened. “When the rule of Rehoboam was established and he was strong, he abandoned the law of the Lord, and all Israel with him” (2 Chronicles 12:1 ESV). As his kingdom became stronger, Rehoboam became increasingly more independent and saw less and less need for God. He let his success go to his head and it had a direct impact on his heart.

What does this passage reveal about God?

So God stepped in. He brought the Egyptians, along with the Libyans, Sukkum and Ethiopians against Jerusalem. And God made it clear to Rehoboam why this was taking place. “You abandoned me, so I have abandoned you to the hand of Shishak” (2 Chronicles 12:5 ESV). As had happened all throughout the period of the judges, God brought “plunderers” against His people in order to teach them a lesson. And this latest threat had the same impact as all those before them. “Then the princes of Israel and the king humbled themselves and said, ‘The Lord is righteous’” (2 Chronicles 12:6 ESV). They acknowledged that what God was doing was just, righteous and right. They deserved it. They were guilty. And when God saw their response, He said, “I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance, and my wrath shall not be poured out on Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak. Nevertheless, they shall be servants to him, that they may know my service and the service of the kingdoms of the countries” (2 Chronicles 12:7 ESV). The NET Bible translates that last line as, “Yet they will become his subjects, so they can experience how serving me differs from serving the surrounding nations.” They were going to learn the difference between faithfully serving God and having to unwillingly serve a pagan nation. God wanted His people to be godly. He wanted them to live with Him as the focal point of their individual and corporate lives. But because the people of Judah had turned their backs on God and, in essence, become God-less, He allowed them to experience what life could be like without Him. Shishak and the Egyptians ransacked the temple, taking away all the treasure David and Solomon had accrued. Yet, God spared Judah from complete destruction because they humbled themselves before Him, admitting their guilt and His justified actions against them.

What does this passage reveal about man?

It is amazing that God continued to bless Rehoboam in spite of all he had done to forsake Him. “So King Rehoboam grew strong in Jerusalem and reigned” (2 Chronicles 12:13 ESV). He would reign for 17 years in Jerusalem, “the city that the Lord had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel to put his name there” (2 Chronicles 12:13 ESV). And yet, Rehoboam would not learn from his mistakes. He would not respond to God’s grace and mercy with godly living. Instead, “he did evil, for he did not set his heart to seek the Lord” (2 Chronicles 12:14 ESV). Like Israel’s first king, Saul, and his own father, Solomon, Rehoboam would forsake God. He started out well, but finished poorly. He went from godliness to godlessness. And the amazing thing is that his actions took place even while God was in the midst of blessing him and prospering his kingdom

Over in the book of 1 Timothy, Paul encourages his readers to live godly lives. He challenges them to be people of prayer. He instructs them pray for “all people”, including kings and all who are in high places. His goal? “That we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (2 Timothy 2:2 ESV). Our prayers are to be focused on asking God to provide a safe and fertile environment in which to live god-focused lives so that we might influence the culture around us. We are to pray for an atmosphere in which we can live for God and share the good news of Jesus Christ with everyone we meet. Paul encourages the men to be prayerful, uncontentious, and not quarrelsome. He tells the women to be modest in their dress, respectable in their appearance, and self-controlled in their behavior. At the heart of Paul’s message is the power of and need for prayer in the life of the believer. As Dr. Thomas L. Constable so clearly explains, “Prayer is so important because it invites God into the situation we pray about and it secures His working on behalf of those in need” (Dr. Constable’s notes on 1 Timothy, 2007 Edition). Prayer expresses our dependence upon and need for God. It is at the core of godly living. To live a life without prayer is to live a god-less life. It communicates to Him that we have no need for Him in our lives. When Rehoboam and the people humbled themselves before God, they were acknowledging their need for His help and forgiveness.

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

God desires His people to live godly lives – lives that are empowered by His Spirit, obedient to His Word, and dependent upon His help. To forsake God does not require that we completely turn our backs on Him or worship other gods in place of Him. It can simply mean that we have chosen not to depend on Him. We can become self-sufficient, autonomous in our decision making, and convinced that we can somehow live our lives in our own strength and according to our own wisdom. I can’t help but keep reflecting on the fact that Solomon had wisdom and knowledge that had been given to him by God. Yet he ended up turning his back on God and worshiping idols made with human hands. Not exactly the wisest decision he could have made. But even godly wisdom is useless if we don’t put it into effect. It is useless to us if we choose to disobey it. Godliness is nothing more than God-centeredness – living our lives completely dependent upon Him. It is leading peaceful and quiet lives, godly and dignified in every way. “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4 ESV). When we live godly lives, made possible through the work of Christ on the cross, we become living testimonies of God’s grace and His life transforming power.

Father, I want to live godly. I want my life to reflect my dependence upon You and reveal Your power through me. I want to be a man of prayer, a man who lives to serve, please and obey You in all that I do. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

2 Chronicles 9-10, 1 Timothy 1

Robbing God of Glory.

2 Chronicles 9-10, 1 Timothy 1

To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. – 1 Timothy 1:17 ESV

Solomon had been given his wisdom and knowledge from God. His kingdom had been handed to him on a silver platter by God. He enjoyed immense wealth and unsurpassed peace as a result of God’s good graces. Solomon had it all. In fact, he described his situation in great detail in the book of Ecclesiastes. “I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines, the delight of the sons of man. So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil” (Ecclesiastes 2:4-10 ESV). It seems that Solomon knew nothing of simplicity. His life was marked by ostentatiousness and overindulgence.

Solomon was not only wise and wealthy, he was famous. His reputation spread throughout the known world and attracted other dignitaries and royalty from other nations, including the Queen of Sheba. And Solomon was not shy about showing off his great wealth and impressing his guests with his wisdom. He seemed to enjoy it. But what is interesting is that the Queen of Sheba ended up worshiping Solomon, not God. She was more impressed with the creation than she was the Creator. She seemed to believe that God was blessed for having made Solomon king over His people. She even gave offerings to Solomon, but not to God. Somewhere along the way, Solomon had lost focus and wrongly assumed that he was the center of the universe, not God. Not once in this account does he attempt to deflect any of the praise, glory and honor given to him to God.

What does this passage reveal about God?

God had made it clear that He was a jealous God. “I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols” (Isaiah 42:8 ESV). He was not in the habit of sharing His glory with anyone or anything. Man existed for His glory. Creation was a testament to His glory. Solomon’s wealth, wisdom, and kingdom, were intended to reflect God’s glory. The nation of Israel existed because God had ordained it. Solomon’s reign was a direct result of God’s will and in keeping with His promise to David. Solomon should have used his great wisdom and wealth as a platform for declaring the glory and the greatness of God. Like his father, David, Solomon should have used his unique station in life as an opportunity to lift up the name and reputation of God. David had written, “I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable” (Psalm 145:1-3 ESV). But 2 Chronicles 9 begins with these telling words: “Now when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon…” (2 Chronicles 9:1 ESV). She came seeking Solomon, but he could have used the opportunity to introduce her to his God. God would give Solomon ample opportunity to spread the glory of His name among the nations. But it seems that they were more impressed with Solomon than they were with his God. “Thus King Solomon excelled all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom. And all the kings of the earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put into his mind” (2 Chronicles 9:22-23 ESV). Solomon existed for God’s glory, but somehow he had turned that truth around. He had become the center of his own universe. 

What does this passage reveal about man?

Because Solomon ended up glorifying himself and worshiping false gods, he would find all his great wealth and wisdom meaningless and unfulfilling. “For of the wise as of the fool there is no enduring remembrance, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. How the wise dies just like the fool! So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind” (Ecclesiastes 2:16-17 ESV). His own self-confessed vanity would lead him to disobey God’s commands, surrounding himself with great wealth, so much so that “silver was not considered as anything in the days of Solomon” (2 Chronicles 9:20 ESV). He even made himself a great throne made of ivory and overlaid with gold. He amassed thousands of horses and chariots. In fact, he imported horses from Egypt and all the lands – all in violation of God’s commands. “Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the Lord has said to you, ‘You shall never return that way again.’ And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold” (Deuteronomy 17:16-17 ESV).

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

Solomon had lost sight of the fact that his fame and fabulous wealth were God’s doing, not his own. He existed for God’s glory, not his own. As his fame spread, he began to believe his own press releases, somehow thinking himself special. But Solomon’s greatness was all a result of God’s graciousness and goodness. Solomon’s wisdom and wealth were to be a testimony to God’s blessing. Had Solomon remained grounded and remembered that he was totally undeserving of all that he had inherited, he would have been able to recognize the unbelievable grace of God in his life. Paul reminds me that I too must never forget just how blessed I am by God. Speaking of his own life, Paul writes, “formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 1:13-14 ESV). He fully understood that God had redeemed him in order that through his life, “Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life” (1 Timothy 1:16 ESV). Paul’s life was a testimony to God’s amazing grace. And Paul was more than willing to give God all the praise, glory and honor. Like Paul, I must learn to recognize God’s greatness and grace in my own life. I am what I am because of Him, not me. I owe all that I have and all that I am to Him. When I lose sight of that fact, I can end up robbing God of glory. I can find myself making much of me, instead of making much of Him. But when I make myself my own god, I will reach the same sad conclusion Solomon did. “This also is vanity and a striving after wind” (Ecclesiastes 2:26 ESV). 

Father, forgive me for the many times I rob You of glory. Forgive me for making it all about me so much of the time. Help me to understand just how much I owe to You. I owe You not only my salvation, but my very existence. Never let me forget that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17 ESV). Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

2 Chronicles 7-8, 2 Thessalonians 3

No One Said It Would Be Easy.

2 Chronicles 7-8, 2 Thessalonians 3

As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. – 2 Thessalonians 3:13 ESV

God had chosen to dwell among His people. That is the significance of the events recorded in chapter seven as Solomon and the people dedicated the newly completed temple. God even told Solomon, “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice” (2 Chronicles 7:12 ESV). The temple was going to be a place in which the people of God could come to find forgiveness for their sins and receive cleansing from God so that they might continue to enjoy His presence among them. The people recognized the incredible fact that God had chosen to bless them and grant them the unique privilege of having Him dwell among them. But God’s presence was not guaranteed. There were conditions involved. His continued presence among them was going to require certain attitudes and actions on their part. Solomon would enjoy the blessings of God as long as he remained faithful to God. The people would experience the power and presence of God as long as they made Him their sole object of worship and adoration. But it wasn’t going to be easy. In the words God spoke to Solomon, He made it perfectly clear what His expectations would be regarding the king and his subjects. He knew there would be times of sin and unfaithfulness. He knew there would be periods of time when He would be forced to punish His people – “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people” (2 Chronicles 7:13 ESV). And then those times came, God told Solomon exactly what the people were supposed to do. “…if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14 ESV).

What does this passage reveal about God?

God didn’t say, “IF my people sin.” He said “WHEN my people sin.” The existence of the temple and the reality of the sacrificial system was ample evidence that God knew His people would sin. He had provided the means by which they could seek and find forgiveness and restoration. But there was more to the sacrificial system than mere ritual and religious rule keeping. God gave them four requirements for experiencing His forgiveness and healing: First, he required that they humble themselves. They must come to Him with an attitude of humility, not pride. Coming to God requires that we admit our weakness and acknowledge His power. God hates pride. James reminds us, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6 ESV). An attitude of humility expresses our understanding of who we are in comparison to God. When we come before Him humbly, we are letting Him know that He is God and we are not. Secondly, God said that if they want to experience His forgiveness and healing, they must come before Him prayerfully. Prayer is an act that expresses dependence. When we pray, we are telling God that we love Him, but also that we need Him. When we pray to God, we are coming to Him with our hands out, having let go of all else we had been clinging to and asking Him to meet our needs. Prayer is a way of expressing our dependence upon and need for God. But then, God told Solomon that they must also seek His face. This expression conveys the idea of seeking to please God. To seek God’s face is to desire His favor. When we sin, it is as if we force God to turn His face from us, because God is holy and cannot abide by or tolerate sin in His presence. But when we humbly admit our sins and prayerfully bring them before God in confession, seeking to do what is right in His eyes, He turns His face toward us. We must desperately desire God’s favor more than anything else in the world. We must seek to please Him, not just seek His forgiveness. Finally, God told Solomon that there must be change. The people must turn from their wicked ways.” In other words, they must repent. Seeking God’s forgiveness for sin must be accompanied by an acknowledgement that our sin was wrong. Repentance is not just a remorse of regret for having gotten got with our hands in the cookie jar. We must admit that what we have done was wrong and turn from it.

What does this passage reveal about man?

IF the people of Israel will do these things, God says, “then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14 ESV). Humility, prayer, seeking to do what pleases God and turning away from displeases Him brings forgiveness and healing. But God knew that man was predisposed to pride, independence, seeking to please himself and an unwillingness to turn back to God. So He gave them the consequences associated with disobedience and a refusal to humbly, prayerfully repent. “But if you turn aside and forsake my statutes and my commandments that I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will pluck you up from my land that I have given you, and this house that I have consecrated for my name, I will cast out of my sight, and I will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples” (2 Chronicles 7:19-20 ESV). Their refusal to come to Him in humility, prayer, seeking His face, and turning from their wickedness, would result in a removal of His favor, the destruction of His temple and their removal from the land He had so graciously given them. And when that day comes and the nations marvel at why this has happened, God gives the reason: “Because they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers who brought them out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold on other gods and worshiped them and served them. Therefore he has brought all this disaster on them” (2 Chronicles 7:22 ESV). 

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

As a believer in Jesus Christ, I enjoy forgiveness for my sins – past, present and future. Because of my relationship with Christ, I stand before God as righteous. But I must never take that relationship for granted. John tells me, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 ESV). There is still a need for me to come to God, humbly seeking His face in prayer, confessing my sins, admitting my need for Him, and willingly turning away from my open rebellion to Him. I cannot arrogantly expect God to bring me healing and forgiveness when I am living in sin and openly disobeying His will for my life. As Paul told the Thessalonian believers, I must not grow weary in doing good. As the New International Version translates that verse, I must “never tire of doing what is right” (2 Thessalonians 3:13 NIV). Living the Christian life is not easy. God never said it would be. Sin will always be a constant reality in my life. Pride will be a constant companion. Seeking independence from God will always be a temptation. Turning from sin will prove difficult to do. But I must not grow weary in doing good. To do good is to seek God’s face and desire His favor. I don’t do it to earn brownie points and work my way into His good graces. Jesus Christ has already restored me to a right relationship with God once and for all. But as a child of God, I should desire to live for Him and to conduct my life in such a way that it expresses my love and appreciation for Him. Humility, prayer, seeking God, and turning from sin are expressions of my love for Him. Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians is an encouraging reminder to me. “May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ” (2 Thessalonians 3:5 ESV). I must never forget God’s love and Christ’s example of faithful, unwavering obedience to His Father. I must not grow weary in doing good.

Father, help me to never lose sight of Your incredible love or Your Son’s marvelous example of humility, prayerfulness, obedience and righteousness. He lived His life to please You. May I continually learn to do the same thing. Not to earn Your favor, but to express my gratitude and love. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

2 Chronicles 5-6, 2 Thessalonians 2

A Timely Reminder.

2 Chronicles 5-6, 2 Thessalonians 2

O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you, in heaven or on earth, keeping covenant and showing steadfast love to your servants who walk before you with all their heart. – 2 Chronicles 6:14 ESV

Most scholars believe the books of 1 and 2 Chronicles are post-exhilic in nature. In other words, they were written some time after the people of Judah had returned from captivity in Babylon and after Jerusalem had been restored and the temple rebuilt. In spite of their rebellion against God, He had miraculously arranged for them to be restored to the land. He had made it possible for them to rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem and reconstruct the temple, both of which had been destroyed by the Babylonians. But things were not like they had been. The city of Jerusalem was a shadow of its former self. The temple was smaller and much less grand than the one Solomon had built. The people were poor, defenseless, with no standing army and no king to lead them. So in recounting this story to his readers, the chronicler is reminding them of their heritage, their nation’s former glory, and their unique relationship with God. Solomon’s prayer of dedication contains a series of if…then statements, asking God to intervene in certain cases involving the sins of the people and their ultimate repentance.

This entire section would have been a sobering reminder of just how wonderful things had been for the people of God before their sins had led to God’s discipline and their deportation. But it would have also reminded them of what was required of them to enjoy God’s forgiveness and restoration.

What does this passage reveal about God?

One particular part of Solomon’s prayer would have struck a chord with those reading this book in their post-exhilic environment. Solomon had pleaded with God, saying, “If your people Israel are defeated before the enemy because they have sinned against you, and they turn again and acknowledge your name and pray and plead with you in this house, then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel and bring them again to the land that you gave to them and to their fathers” (2 Chronicles 6:24-25 ESV). There is no indication that the people of Israel, while in exile in Babylon, had ever really repented of their sins and turned back to God. Yet God had been faithful and returned them to the land – in spite of them. Earlier in his prayer, Solomon had stated, “O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you, in heaven or on earth, keeping covenant and showing steadfast love to your servants who walk before you with all their heart” (2 Chronicles 6:14 ESV). But those who were reading this historical narrative after having been returned from exile in Babylon, this was a sobering reminder that God had been faithful even though they had never really repented. God was keeping His promises made to Abraham and David. He would continue to make of Israel a great nation. He would keep His promise to place a descendant of David on the throne of Israel – forever. The real emphasis of this passage seems to be on God’s faithfulness and man’s inherent unfaithfulness. It recounts God’s decision to dwell among the people of Israel, displaying His shekinah glory, in the form of a pillar of cloud, within the Holy of Holies – “the glory of the Lord filled the house of God” (2 Chronicles 5:14 ESV).

What does this passage reveal about man?

The temple and the Ark of the Covenant were symbols of God’s abiding presence, but also of His holiness and willingness to forgive the sins of those who rebel against His righteous commands. The temple without the Ark would have been just another building. The Ark without the Mercy Seat, would have been nothing more than a constant reminder of God’s Law and man’s inability to live up to it. The Ark contained the two tablets of stone on which were written the ten commandments, provided to Moses by God Himself. These tablets represented God’s righteous, unwavering expectations regarding man’s conduct. But because of man’s sin nature, living up to God’s righteous requirements was impossible. Which is why God had provided the sacrificial system and the Mercy Seat, which covered the Ark of the Covenant. It was on this Mercy Seat that blood was sprinkled once a year on the Day of Atonement, in order to provide forgiveness for the sins the people had committed that previous year. Solomon knew that he and the people of Israel were nothing without God’s presence. But he also knew that they were nothing without God’s forgiveness. “…listen to the pleas of your servant and of your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. And listen from heaven your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive” (2 Chronicles 6:21 ESV). Solomon fully understood that forgiveness was going to be non-negotiable necessity in order for the people of God to retain a right standing before God. Even though Solomon repeatedly said, “If a man sins…”, “If your people are defeated…because they have sinned”, and “when heaven is shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned…”, he knew that these were not potential scenarios, but inevitable ones. They were going to sin and they were going to need God’s forgiveness. But forgiveness required repentance. And while the original readers of this book found themselves restored to the land and worshiping once again in the temple, they were going to need to repent if they wanted to enjoy the presence and power of God in their lives.

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

It’s interesting to note that while the temple had been restored and the sacrificial system had been reinstated, the Ark of the Covenant was missing. It had likely been destroyed during the fall of Jerusalem. The audience reading this passage in a post-exhilic Jerusalem would have recognized that the Ark of the Covenant was no longer sitting within the Holy of Holies. And without the Ark, there was no Mercy Seat. Without the Mercy Seat, there was not place to atone for the sins of the people. And yet, I am reminded that God has provided mercifully, graciously provided a means of atonement through His own Son, Jesus Christ. Christ was offered as the perfect, once-for-all-time sacrifice for the sins of mankind. “… he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:11 ESV). Paul goes on to remind us, “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” (Hebrews 9:27-28 ESV). In his letter to the Thessalonian believers, Paul warned them of the “coming of the lawless one” – the Antichrist – who in the time of the tribulation, will deceive “those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:10 ESV). There will be those who believe his lies and suffer condemnation, because they “did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:12 ESV). But God had made known to me the truth regarding His Son. He has made it clear to me that my salvation is based solely on His Son’s work on the cross, not any good works on my part. The Israelites were the undeserving recipients of God’s grace and mercy. So am I. God has chosen me, along with all other believers, “as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13 ESV). We are to live in the wonder of His grace, mercy and forgiveness.

Father, nothing we receive from You is deserved, except perhaps, Your loving discipline. But Your grace is always a free gift, provided out of Your abundant love and mercy. Thank You for making it possible for me to be restored to a right relationship with You through the death of Your Son. Thank You for providing mercy and grace, when what I deserved was death. I am reminded that I owe to You a great debt, which I could never repay. But I can give You my worship, praise, love and life. May I live in such a way that the world around me knows I belong to You. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

2 Chronicles 3-4, 2 Thessalonians 1

Something Missing.

2 Chronciles 3-4, 2 Thessalonians 1

Then Solomon began to build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to David his father, at the place that David had appointed, on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. – 2 Chronicles 3:1 ESV

Four years into his reign as king, Solomon finally began the building of the long-awaited house of the Lord – the temple. Construction commenced on top of Mount Moriah, at the site of the former threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite, purchased by David for this very purpose. Chapters three and four give us details concerning the construction of various aspects of the temple and its contents. We are given specifics concerning the two massive cherubim that occupied the Most Holy Place. We have descriptions of the altar of bronze, the sea of cast metal, the wash basins, tables golden lampstands and the court of the priests. But there is one thing missing, and it’s absence is significant. In spite of all the painstaking planning and meticulous care that went into the construction of the temple, there was one item that would ensure that this structure would be the dwelling place of God and not just another beautiful man-made building. The missing element was the Ark of the Covenant. Solomon had not forgotten about it. He had every intention of bringing the Ark into the temple upon completion of the construction process, and that significant event is covered in chapter five. But it is important to notice that the building alone, adorned with all its gold, silver, bronze, and cypress; filled with all its handcrafted basins, lampstands and tables; would be nothing without Ark. The Ark of the Covenant was a symbol of God’s presence. It contained the stone tablets given to Moses and on which were written the Law of God. It was into the Most Holy Place that the High Priest would enter one time per year on the Day of Atonement, “and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people” (Hebrews 9:7 ESV). It was there that the high priest offered sacrificial blood to atone for (cover) the sins of the Israelites as a nation. This offering made propitiation (satisfaction) for their sins for one year. But each year, this same process had to be repeated. It was a sacrifice that had limitations and could never completely satisfy the just demands of a holy God.

What does this passage reveal about God?

The Ark of the Covenant was central to the worship of Yahweh. Without it, the people could not have their sins atoned for. A temple without the ark would be just another building, no matter how beautiful it was. A temple without the presence of God would be nothing more than an expensive warehouse, devoid of power and worthless as a place of worship. The Ark of the Covenant was to be a reminder of God’s holiness as revealed in His Law. It was to provide atonement for sin and a means by which to enjoy God’s mercy and forgiveness, so that men might experience His ongoing presence. The temple, while built by the hands of ordinary men, could never provide atonement. It could never forgive sin. The Ark was essential to the ongoing health and well-being of the people of God. Men could construct buildings, but only God can forgive sins. Men can build a temple intended as a dwelling place for God, but only God can provide a means by which sinful men can dwell in His holy presence. 

What does this passage reveal about man?

One of the things that is easy to overlook in reading about the beautiful trappings of the temple is that its existence would reveal two aspects regarding God. First, it was a visible reminder of God’s presence and power. It would be a constant physical symbol of God’s relationship with the people of Israel. But there is a second, sometimes overlooked aspect of the temple that the Israelites would sometimes forget. It was a symbol of God’s judgment. Inside the Ark were the tablets of stone on which were written the Law of God – His holy commands outlining the non-negotiable code of conduct for His people. Those laws were to be obeyed. Not to do so would carry dire consequences. To break God’s laws would bring God’s judgment. Which is why God provided the Mercy Seat. He knew that men would sin. He was fully aware that His people could not keep His holy laws. So He provided a means by which they could have their sins atoned for and His righteous judgment satisfied. The judgment lies at the heart of it all. If there was no pending judgment, there would be no need for mercy or atonement. If there were no sins, there would be no need for forgiveness. The judgment of God is a reality. “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 ESV) and “ the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23 ESV). Man stands condemned. He is under the judgment of a holy God and is deserving of His sentence of death. 

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved — and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-7 ESV). God, in His mercy, provides salvation. But it does not negate His judgment. Paul made it clear to the Thessalonian believers that God’s judgment was still a reality. While they were suffering for their faith and enduring abuse at the hands of their non-believing peers, Paul made it clear that their suffering was “evidence of the righteous judgment of God” (2 Thessalonians 1:5 ESV). They were suffering for the present time, but they were not to lose sight of the fact that a day was coming when God would right all wrongs and set straight all injustices. “God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (2 Thessalonians 1:6-8 ESV). Paul went on to tell them, “They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might” (2 Thessalonians 1:9 ESV).

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

The temple without the Ark was worthless. The people of Israel, without a means of receiving the mercy and forgiveness of God, would find themselves standing under the judgment of God. My life without the atoning work of Jesus Christ would be just as worthless and my fate, just as hopeless. Had the Ark only contained the copies of the Law, but no mercy seat, the people of God would have been under judgment and worthy of death. But God provided a means of atonement. He made possible forgiveness for sins that was undeserved and unmerited. He has done the same thing for me. And when I find myself suffering in this life and enduring difficulties and trials as a follower of Jesus Christ, I must remind myself that my reward is out ahead of me. There is a day coming when Jesus Christ will return and the righteous judgment of God will be fully enacted once and for all, “inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (2 Thessalonians 1:8 ESV). How grateful I should be that I will not have to undergo that judgment. How thankful I should be that I will be spared God’s wrath and be able to enjoy His grace, mercy, love and forgiveness. May I never take for granted the incredible gift I have received. May I never neglect the reality of God’s judgment and the unbelievable gift of His mercy made possible through Jesus Christ.

Father, Your judgment is real and just. Your anger against man is justified. And I know that I was fully deserving of your condemnation and punishment. But You extended to me mercy. You made possible my forgiveness. You did for me what I could have never done for myself. Help me to never forget the reality of Your judgment, so that I never take for granted the wonder of Your grace. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

2 Chronicles 1-2, 1 Thessalonians 5

Smart Enough To Know Better.

2 Chronicles 1-2, 1 Thessalonians 5

Give me now wisdom and knowledge to go out and come in before this people, for who can govern this people of yours, which is so great?2 Chronicles 1:10 ESV

Solomon was a bright young man. In fact, he was smart enough to know that, when God offered him a chance to ask for anything he wanted, what he really needed were wisdom and knowledge. And God granted both. So Solomon wasn’t just book-smart, he was God-ordained, off-the-charts intelligent. But he was going to learn that all the wisdom in the world won’t stop you from doing some pretty unintelligent things. It’s interesting to note that the chronicler takes special care to follow up the story of Solomon’s anointing by God with wisdom and knowledge with a very telling side story. It seems that Solomon had an appetite for fast wheels, precious metals, and, eventually, foreign women. “Solomon gathered together chariots and horsemen. He had 1,400 chariots and 12,000 horsemen, whom he stationed in the chariot cities and with the king in Jerusalem. And the king made silver and gold as common in Jerusalem as stone, and he made cedar as plentiful as the sycamore of the Shephelah” (2 Chronicles 1:14-15 ESV).

So what’s the problem? Everything listed here is in direct violation of the will of God. Over in Deuteronomy 17, we read, “Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the Lord has said to you, ‘You shall never return that way again.’ And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold” (Deuteronomy 17:16-17 ESV). Solomon failed his first aptitude test. He flunked Obedience 101. And it would prove to be a pattern in his life.

What does this passage reveal about God?

God expected His king to be obedient. He had made it perfectly clear and had commanded that each king was to keep a copy of the Law close at hand at all times. “And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel” (Deuteronomy 17:19-20 ESV). God’s Law was to be a constant companion to the king, guiding him, teaching him to fear God, and helping him to remain faithful to God’s will. The wisdom Solomon received from God was not to have replaced or substituted from his knowledge of God’s will as revealed in His Law.

What does this passage reveal about man?

Solomon was just a man – a very smart man, but a man nonetheless. Like all men, he suffered with a sin nature that caused him to listen more to his passions than to his God. For Solomon, the trappings of kingship were highly attractive. Chariots and horses, gold and silver, wives and concubines were all symbols of a successful reign in his day and age. Even when Solomon got around to building a house for God, he would be sure and build an even bigger one for himself. Materialism and the trappings of sovereign success were constant temptations to him. In his letter to the Thessalonian believers, Paul writes, “Abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22 ESV). it seems odd that he would have to say this to a group of Christ followers, but evidently, this was much-needed information for some of them. They needed some basic instruction in how to live godly lives in the midst of an ungodly world. Paul went on to say, “may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23 ESV). He wanted them to know that a faithful walk with God was more important than anything else. Their greatest need was for God to finish His sanctifying, life-transforming work in their lives.

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

God gave Solomon exactly what he had asked for: wisdom and knowledge. But it didn’t prevent Solomon from doing something stupid. It would appear that Solomon had not yet taken God’s command seriously and made the Law of God a part of his daily reading schedule. Perhaps he thought he could survive off his intelligence. But it could have been a case of Solomon knowing what to do, but simply failing to do it. How often have I been guilty of the same thing? Real wisdom shows up in faithful obedience to the will of God. And because I have the Spirit of God living in me and the Word of God available to me, I should be smart enough to know better than to disobey God.

Father, I want to be faithful. I want my wisdom to be lived out in practical ways that impact the everyday nature of my life. I have no excuse not to live wisely and obediently. May I not overlook Your will in an effort to satisfy my own desires. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

1 Chronicles 29, 1 Thessalonians 4

Godliness Is Impossible Without God.

1 Chronicles 29, 1 Thessalonians 4

O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our fathers, keep forever such purposes and thoughts in the hearts of your people, and direct their hearts toward you. – 1 Chronicles 29:18 ESV

Over in 1 Thessalonians 4, Paul writes, “God’s will is for you to be holy” (1 Thessalonians 4:3 NLT). In other words, it is God’s deepest desire that His children live lives that are set apart and distinctly different than the rest of the world. The lifestyle of the believer in Jesus Christ is to reflect their relationship with God as His children and the reality of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in their life. Peter writes of this. “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3 NLT). It is God’s will that we experience His ongoing sanctifying work in our lives, and He has provided the means necessary for this to happen. The key is that we must recognize our own inability to transform our own lives in our own strength. But as Jesus said, “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26 ESV).

David, the great king of Israel and the man after God’s own heart, knew that the people of Israel were totally dependent upon God for their well-being and ultimate success. He also knew that his young son, Solomon, who was ascending to the throne of Israel in his place, would need the help of God to be the kind of king God desired him to be. Which is why he asked God, “Grant to Solomon my son a whole heart that he may keep your commandments, your testimonies, and your statutes, performing all, and that he may build the palace for which I have made provision” (1 Chronicles 29:19 ESV). Solomon was going to need God’s help just to be faithful and to accomplish all that lie ahead for him as the king of Israel. David could provide Solomon with all the resources and plans for building the temple of God, but God would have to provide the internal fortitude and spiritual stamina necessary to accomplish the task in a God-honoring and holy way.

What does this passage reveal about God?

God is fully aware of man’s weaknesses. He knows that we struggle with faithfulness and are ill-equipped to pursue a life of holiness. Which is why He has always provided the means by which holiness can become a reality in our lives. Holiness, in its most simple form, is set-apartness. It speaks of a character of life that is radically different than the norm. When God had called Abram out of Ur of the Chaldees and promised to make of him a great nation, His intention was to create a people who would reflect His character and live according to His righteous standards. They would be set-apart for His service, and would be His prize possession. As such, they would be expected to live differently. God told them, “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:5-6 ESV). God had provided them with His Law, making it abundantly clear just what His standards of conduct were to be. Then He provided them with His sacrificial system, because He knew that they would find it hard to live up to His righteous standard. The sacrificial system was a means by which they could be restored to a right relationship with Him, receiving forgiveness for their sins through the atonement made possible through the shedding of blood.

God did not call His people to holiness, then leave them on their own to pull it off. He did call them to live obediently and faithfully, but He knew that they would struggle to live up to His standards. So He provided everything they would need to receive His forgiveness when they sinned and enjoy His ongoing presence and power in their lives. The key was that they remain fully aware of their total dependence upon Him. They were helpless and hopeless without Him.
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What does this passage reveal about man?

Man has a strong independent streak. Ever since the fall, we have been wired to act independently and fend for ourselves. We want to be in control of our own lives and do things our own way. But as God’s people, we must constantly remind ourselves that the only thing that sets us apart is our relationship with Him. In and of ourselves, we are nothing. We have no strength of our own. We have no wisdom of our own. We have no righteousness of our own. All that we have and all that we are, we owe to Christ. Jesus Himself reminds us, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5 ESV). Paul wrote, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13 ESV). The key is dependence. We must recognize our non-negotiable need for God in our lives. Even Jesus Himself lived in complete dependence upon God the Father. “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me” (John 5:30 ESV). This does not absolve us from responsibility or mean that we have no role to play in the process. It simply means that we must recognize our need for God in our lives and constantly turn to Him for the strength, wisdom, and resources we need to live holy lives in the midst of an unholy world.

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

Trying to love the godly life without God’s help is like trying to drive your car without gas – it’s impossible. Not only that, it’s ridiculous and a total waste of time. Yet how often do we as believers find ourselves trying to pull off godliness without God’s assistance. Too often we attempt to replace the Spirit’s power with a bit of elbow grease and a good work ethic. David spent years preparing for the construction of the temple. He drew up the plans (with God’s help), he appointed all the workers, he assigned all the duties of the priests, he collected all the materials, and he willingly and generously gave out of his own pocket the financial resources necessary to make it all happen. But David knew that nothing he had done was really his doing. David admitted as much to God: “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you” (1 Chronicles 29:14 ESV). David was simply giving back to God what was rightfully His in the first place. Any gifts David had given had first been given by God to him.

We are completely dependent upon God. He must save us, because we cannot save ourselves. He must sanctify us or continually transform us into the likeness of His Son, because we are totally incapable of doing it on our own. He must also one day send His Son to come back for us. We can’t earn or work our way to heaven. We can’t climb our way into His presence. Jesus Christ will come back for us. Paul reminds us, “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 ESV). God has provided for our salvation, sanctification and, ultimately, our glorification. It is all His doing. We are completely dependent upon Him. But what a great place, what a safe place, what a totally worry-free place to be.

Father, may we learn to lean on You more. May we learn to be content being dependent upon You. Life lived in our own strength is exhausting and disappointing. But when we willingly rest in Your strength and live according to Your power, we find the rest and peace that Jesus offered. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org