No Ransom. No Redemption.

He destroys you, O Israel, for you are against me, against your helper. Where now is your king, to save you in all your cities? Where are all your rulers—those of whom you said, “Give me a king and princes”? I gave you a king in my anger, and I took him away in my wrath.

The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; his sin is kept in store. The pangs of childbirth come for him, but he is an unwise son, for at the right time he does not present himself at the opening of the womb.

Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from Death? O Death, where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is your sting? Compassion is hidden from my eyes.

Though he may flourish among his brothers, the east wind, the wind of the Lord, shall come, rising from the wilderness, and his fountain shall dry up; his spring shall be parched; it shall strip his treasury of every precious thing. Samaria shall bear her guilt, because she has rebelled against her God; they shall fall by the sword; their little ones shall be dashed in pieces, and their pregnant women ripped open. – Hosea 13:9-16 ESV

If God does not intervene, man is helpless and hopeless to do anything about his condition. Without God’s help, man is incapable of delivering himself from the inevitability of sin’s ultimate outcome: death. The Israelites, even before the division of the kingdom, had proven themselves unfaithful to God by exhibiting their ongoing unwillingness to honor Him as God. Soon after they had entered the land after their 40-year of wandering in the wilderness, they exhibited their propensity to disobey God. The book of Judges chronicles their repetitive cycle of sin, which started with their unwillingness to obey God and completely remove the pagan nations from the land.

Manasseh did not drive out the inhabitants of Beth-shean and its villages… – Judges 1:27 ESV

Ephraim did not drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer – Judges 1:29 ESV

Zebulun did not drive out the inhabitants of Kitron – Judges 1:30 ESV

Asher did not drive out the inhabitants of Acco – Judges 1:31 ESV

And on and on it went. The entire book of Judges is a sad chronicle of their on-again, off-again relationship with God. The people would turn against Him, and God would punish them by allowing their enemies to defeat them. The people would cry out in despair and God would provide them with a judge to deliver them. There would be a short time of repentance, and then the cycle would repeat itself. The book of Judges ends with the sad statement: “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25 ESV).

It was not long before they demanded that God give them a king just like all the other nations (1 Samuel 8:5). And God gave them exactly what they asked for – King Saul. He would prove to be a faithless king who God would remove and replace with King David. And David would be followed by his son, Solomon, who would prove to be a wise and successful king, until the latter days of his reign, when he, because of his many pagan wives, allowed the worship of idols to make its way into the nation. God split the nation in two, and Israel, the northern kingdom, would end up with a king just like Saul. Jeroboam would prove unfaithful as well, leading the people into idolatry and away from the worship of Yahweh. And now that God’s judgement was coming, He sarcastically asked of them, “Now where is your king? Let him save you! Where are all the leaders of the land, the king and the officials you demanded of me? In my anger I gave you kings, and in my fury I took them away” (Hosea 13:10-11 NLT). God had given them ample opportunity to repent, but like a child in the womb, they refused to come out when the pains of delivery increased.

So God asked, “Should I ransom them from the grave? Should I redeem them from death?
O death, bring on your terrors! O grave, bring on your plagues! For I will not take pity on them” (Hosea 13:14 NLT). This verse should jump out at us. Because ransom and redemption is exactly what God has accomplished for those of us who are in Christ. He has paid the price for our sins and ransomed us from the death sentence that was hanging over our heads. He has redeemed us from death through the sacrifice of His own Son, who died in our place. As a result, we no longer need fear death or the grave. Paul quotes from this very passage when he writes,

But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.

Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die,j this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” – 1 Corinthians 15:51-55 NLT

It is God who ransoms and redeems. There is no help or hope without Him. The Israelites were going to learn that deliverance was impossible without God. Their kings would prove impotent. Their armies would be exposed as incompetent. When destruction came, their gods would be non-existent. They would learn the hard way that deliverance comes only through the Lord. Trusting in kings, chariots, allies, weapons, wealth, wisdom, false gods or anything other than God would prove fruitless and devastatingly deadly. Their destruction would be complete. No ransom. No redemption.

As Peter said in his defense at his trial before the high priest and the other religious leaders, “Let me clearly state to all of you and to all the people of Israel that he was healed by the powerful name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, the man you crucified but whom God raised from the dead. For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says, ‘The stone that you builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.’ There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:10-12 NLT). Salvation comes only through the Lord. There is no salvation through anyone or anything else.

There Is No Other Savior.

When Ephraim spoke, there was trembling; he was exalted in Israel, but he incurred guilt through Baal and died. And now they sin more and more, and make for themselves metal images, idols skillfully made of their silver, all of them the work of craftsmen. It is said of “Those who offer human sacrifice kiss calves!” Therefore they shall be like the morning mist or like the dew that goes early away, like the chaff that swirls from the threshing floor or like smoke from a window.

But I am the Lord your God from the land of Egypt; you know no God but me, and besides me there is no savior. It was I who knew you in the wilderness, in the land of drought; but when they had grazed, they became full, they were filled, and their heart was lifted up; therefore they forgot me. So I am to them like a lion; like a leopard I will lurk beside the way. I will fall upon them like a bear robbed of her cubs; I will tear open their breast, and there I will devour them like a lion, as a wild beast would rip them open. – Hosea 13:1-8 ESV

It would seem that the northern kingdom of Israel was unfamiliar with the old adage, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.” Because that is exactly what they had done. They were guilty of turning on the very one who had chosen them and blessed them by making them a nation. When God had divided the nation of Israel after Solomon’s epic fall from grace, He had chosen Jeroboam from the tribe of Ephraim to be the first king of the northern kingdom. That is why God held the tribe of Ephraim responsible for the direction the nation had taken. It was Jeroboam who came up with the bright idea to make two golden calves and establish their own places of worship, so that the people would not be tempted to return to Jerusalem to worship Yahweh. Eighteen years into his reign, Jeroboam rebelled against the southern kingdom of Judah and declared war against them. King Abijah of Judah had some very condemning words to say to the people of Israel just prior to their battle.

And now you think to withstand the kingdom of the Lord in the hand of the sons of David, because you are a great multitude and have with you the golden calves that Jeroboam made you for gods. Have you not driven out the priests of the Lord, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, and made priests for yourselves like the peoples of other lands? Whoever comes for ordination with a young bull or seven rams becomes a priest of what are no gods. – 2 Chronicles 13:8-9 ESV

Abijah warned them, “O sons of Israel, do not fight against the Lord, the God of your fathers, for you cannot succeed” (2 Chronicles 13:12 ESV). And he was proved right. The southern kingdom of Judah ended up routing the Israelites in battle, destroying 500,000 of their men in the process. “Thus the men of Israel were subdued at that time, and the men of Judah prevailed, because they relied on the Lord, the God of their fathers” (2 Chronicles 13:18 ESV). King Jeroboam escaped, but would never regain his power. In fact, the chronicler tells us, “Jeroboam did not recover his power in the days of Abijah. And the Lord struck him down, and he died” (2 Chronicles 13:20 ESV). As Hosea puts it, “He incurred guilt through Baal and died” (Hosea 13:1 ESV).

But Jeroboam left a legacy. His golden calves, false priests and pagan worship centers remained. And as Hosea makes clear, even with Jeroboam gone, the people of Israel “sin more and more, and make for themselves metal images, idols skillfully made of their silver, all of them the work of craftsmen” (Hosea 13:2 ESV). Despite their humiliating defeat by Judah and the loss of their king, the people of Israel remained committed to their false gods. They stubbornly clung to their man-made idols, crafting them out of precious metals and then kissing them, desperately hoping that these false gods could become viable substitutes for the one true God.

But Hosea warns that their efforts will prove futile. Their days are numbered. He describes their future as bleak, saying, “they will disappear like the morning mist, like dew in the morning sun, like chaff blown by the wind, like smoke from a chimney” (Hosea 13:3 NLT). And God reminds them, “I am the Lord your God from the land of Egypt; you know no God but me, and besides me there is no savior” (Hosea 13:4 ESV). He was to be their one and only God. Those idols to whom they offered sacrifices were not gods at all. They were statues made by men and were incapable of hearing them, let alone helping them. There was only one source of salvation and that was God. He alone could be their savior. He alone had the power to hear their prayers and provide them with help and hope. It was He who had delivered them from captivity in Egypt and led them to the land of Canaan. It was He who had provided them with victory over the inhabitants of the land and given them farms, vineyards and houses they had not built. As God reminded Joshua, “I gave you land you had not worked on, and I gave you towns you did not build – the towns where you are now living. I gave you vineyards and olive groves for food, though you did not plant them” (Joshua 24:13 NLT). And Joshua would go on to warn the people:

So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord. – Joshua 24:14-15 NLT

The people had chosen. They had decided to serve false gods rather than the God who had delivered them from captivity and blessed them beyond measure. They gladly accepted the blessings of God, but then became fat and happy, slowly forgetting the one who had chosen them and set them apart. They ended up biting the very hand that fed them. God pulls no punches in describing their unfaithfulness: “they became full, they were filled, and their heart was lifted up; therefore they forgot me” (Hosea 13:6 ESV). Once they had become satisfied with the blessings of God, they ended up forgetting the God behind the blessings. The provisions became more important than the Provider. The gifts meant more to them than the Giver. And in their minds, they rationalized that if one God is good, more gods is better. In fact, their philosophy seemed to be: the more, the merrier. More gods, more blessings. More shrines, more potential saviors. But they were going to learn that there was no other savior. Like a wild beast, God was going to attack them, and their false gods would prove poor substitutes for Him and lousy saviors from destruction.

It Is Not God.

Set the trumpet to your lips! One like a vulture is over the house of the Lord, because they have transgressed my covenant and rebelled against my law. To me they cry, “My God, we — Israel — know you.” Israel has spurned the good; the enemy shall pursue him. They made kings, but not through me. They set up princes, but I knew it not. With their silver and gold they made idols for their own destruction. I have spurned your calf, O Samaria. My anger burns against them. How long will they be incapable of innocence? For it is from Israel; a craftsman made it; it is not God. The calf of Samaria shall be broken to pieces. – Hosea 8:1-6 ESV

Ever since the split of the kingdom, the northern nation of Israel had made a habit of ignoring God, transgressing His covenant and rebelling against His law. It had all begun with King Jeroboam’s disastrous decision to make his own gods, in an attempt to keep the people from going back to Jerusalem in the south to worship.

So the king took counsel and made two calves of gold. And he said to the people, “You have gone up to Jerusalem long enough. Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.” And he set one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan. Then this thing became a sin, for the people went as far as Dan to be before one. He also made temples on high places and appointed priests from among all the people, who were not of the Levites. – 1 Kings 12:28-31 ESV

Jeroboam had deemed himself a god-maker and led the entire nation into idolatry. And now, years later, after decades of unfaithfulness to God, the Assyrians were poised, ready to wreak destruction on the people of Israel – as part of God’s punishment for their blatant forsaking of Him as their god. But now that their world was falling apart, they had suddenly decided to call on God, saying , “My God, we — Israel — know you.” But nothing could have been further from the truth. Had they truly known God, they would not have committed the blatant acts of unfaithfulness that had marked their brief and less-than-stellar history. They had appointed kings without God’s approval. They had set over themselves princes and leaders without seeking God’s direction. And the original two golden calves had not been the only idols they erected and worshiped. Idols to Baal and other false gods were located throughout the kingdom.

But God condemned their idols, made with human hands, and He declared, “It is not God.” They were going to discover the simple truth behind that statement as they called out to their false gods in hopes of escaping the wrath of the Assyrian army. And when their idols failed to provide them with a miracle of deliverance, they would finally turn to God. But it would prove too little, too late. Their return would not be heartfelt and would lack true repentance. Their sorrow was not for their sins against God, but because of their circumstances. They weren’t repentant. They were simply remorseful. And their calling on God was nothing more than a last-minute attempt to escape the disaster looming over them.

It is not God. That is the key lesson they were to learn. Their false gods were not gods at all. They were man-made objects lacking life and devoid of any ability to provide help or hope. Their golden calves would end up broken and destroyed. Their places of worship would be torn down. Their reliance upon Egypt and other foreign powers would prove futile. Their real hope should have been in God alone. As the psalmist wrote, “Some nations boast of their chariots and horses, but we boast in the name of the LORD our God” (Psalms 20:7 NLT). The prophet Isaiah warned against placing your trust in anything other than God. “What sorrow awaits those who look to Egypt for help, trusting their horses, chariots, and charioteers and depending on the strength of human armies instead of looking to the LORD, the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 31:1 NLT).

But how easy it is to trust in what we can see. How quickly we can turn to those things that appear to be real and worthy of our trust – instead of trusting in God. But as God’s people, we are to place all our confidence in Him. He is to be our strength, our comfort, protector and provider. But God is not to be treated like an in-case-of-emergency button. He doesn’t want to be our go-to God when all else fails. And yet, so often, we turn to God only after we have exhausted all other options. When we no longer have any tricks up our sleeves, we reach out to him for help. Our desperation prompts us to display an insincere form of remorse. But what God wants is true repentance, a brokenness of heart that causes us to reach out to Him in love and sincere sorrow. David said it well. “The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God” (Psalm 51:17 NLT). The prophet Joel provided a picture of the kind of response God desires from His people:

That is why the Lord says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish. Who knows? Perhaps he will give you a reprieve, sending you a blessing instead of this curse. Perhaps you will be able to offer grain and wine to the Lord your God as before. – Joel 2:12-14 NLT

God desires hearts that are sincerely sorrowful over their sin. He longs for His people to return to Him in heartfelt repentance, legitimately willing to turn from worshiping false gods and ready to place their hope in Him. If our only goal is to escape His judgment, we miss the point. If our repentance is not motivated by His love and a desire to be restored to a right relationship with Him, we are treating Him as nothing more than a get-out-of-jail-free card. Sometimes our difficulties and trials are an opportunity for us to realize that the thing we have been worshiping is not a god. The things we have been putting all our hope in is incapable of delivering what we have been expecting. It is not God. But He is. And He wants to be the God of our lives, providing hope, healing, help, and an ever-increasing holiness of character in our lives.

The Leadership Void.

Yet let no one contend, and let none accuse, for with you is my contention, O priest. You shall stumble by day; the prophet also shall stumble with you by night;  and I will destroy your mother. My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. The more they increased, the more they sinned against me; I will change their glory into shame.

They feed on the sin of my people; they are greedy for their iniquity. And it shall be like people, like priest; I will punish them for their ways and repay them for their deeds. They shall eat, but not be satisfied; they shall play the whore, but not multiply, because they have forsaken the Lord to cherish whoredom, wine, and new wine, which take away the understanding. – Hosea 4:4-11 ESV

God held all of the people of Israel responsible for their sin, but He had a special word of accusation against the spiritual leaders of Israel. The priests and prophets, while not actually men appointed by God, were still going to be held accountable because of their claim to be representatives of God. The priests of Israel were actually unsanctioned by God, because they had been appointed by Jeroboam after the kingdom split in two. He had created his own gods and appointed his own priests. They were not Levites, as God had commanded. So these were actually false priests leading the people in the worship of false gods. So God held them to a higher standard and leveled more severe charges against them. The same was true of the false prophets who were claiming to bring messages from the false gods they worshiped. These men were supposedly speaking new revelations from their gods, giving the people of Israel divine direction. But they were simply misleading the people. The revelations they received, if indeed they received any, were most likely demonic and most definitely not from God.

God’s main accusation against the priests was that they were leading the people away from Him, not toward Him. The people’s knowledge of God was actually diminishing, not increasing. God said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge” (Hosea 4:6 ESV). The priests were not seeking after the one true God, so the people were becoming increasingly ignorant of God and His ways. The priests were not teaching the laws of God, so the people were breaking them without even knowing it. And all of this was leading to their destruction, both spiritually and physically.

As priests, these men were to be promoting godliness and the worship of God. They were to be leading the people into a deeper understanding of and appreciation for God. But God said, “The more priests there are, the more they sin against me. They have exchanged the glory of God for the shame of idols” (Hosea 4:7 NLT). They were leaving God out of the equation. They had replaced Him with false gods and the peoples sins were actually increasing, not decreasing. And God even accused the priests of wanting the people to sin more, because the more they sinned, the more sacrifices they had to bring to repent of their sins. And the more sacrifices the people made, the more portions of those sacrifices they got to eat as their priestly payment. They were actually getting fat and happy off of the sins of the people. “When the people bring their sin offerings, the priests get fed. So the priests are glad when the people sin!” (Hosea 4:8 NLT).

There was evidently a common saying among the Israelites that said, “And what the priests do, the people also do” (Hosea 4:9a NLT). These so-called spiritual leaders were actually setting the standard for sin. They were leading the people into idolatry, immorality, and sins of all kinds by their very actions. Which led God to declare, So now I will punish both priests and people for their wicked deeds” (Hosea 4:9b NLT).

One of the saddest results of turning from God and seeking false gods is that the blessings you seek never come to fruition. The benefits you hope to derive from your false god never appear. The satisfaction you want remains illusive and unattainable. And God told the people of Israel, “They will eat and still be hungry. They will play the prostitute and gain nothing from it, for they have deserted the Lord to worship other gods” (Hosea 4:10-11a NLT). If you make money your god, you will never have enough of it to make you happy or bring you satisfaction. If you make popularity or beauty your god, there will always be someone more popular and more beautiful than you are. If you place your hope and trust in an individual, they will inevitably let you down. Whatever you end up worshiping in place of God will always let you down. It is incapable of delivering what you seek.

While the Israelites were guilty of worship golden calves and idols made of wood, our false gods are more sophisticated and subtle. Ours take the form of people, careers, material things, money, politicians, success, entertainment, and even self. And sadly, in our culture, there are those claiming to speak for God who encourage the worship of these false gods. They claim to speak for God, but actually direct people away from Him by encouraging actions and attitudes that are opposed to His will. These false preachers and pastors promote happiness over holiness. They downplay the topic of sin and portray God as some kind of self-help guru who exists to meet all your personal desires. They preach inclusion and tolerance at the expense of God’s holiness and man’s need of repentance and salvation from sin. They teach the love of God as some kind of syrupy, sweet, all-accepting idea where God never opposes sin and never condemns the sinner. In essence, they emasculate God, turning Him into a doddering grandfather in the sky who doles out blessings on any and all, free from judgment and mindless of the idea of accountability. But this is not the God of the Bible. And like the false priests and prophets of Israel, the pastors, teachers, evangelists and prophets of today who lead people away from the one true God, will be held responsible by God for their actions.

No Knowledge of God.

Hear the word of the Lord, O children of Israel, for the Lord has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land. There is no faithfulness or steadfast love, and no knowledge of God in the land; there is swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and committing adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed. Therefore the land mourns, and all who dwell in it languish, and also the beasts of the field and the birds of the heavens, and even the fish of the sea are taken away. – Hosea 4:1-3 ESV

God now begins to list His accusations against Israel. The remaining chapters will contain messages containing clear indications of Israel’s guilt and God’s coming judgment. But they will also be mixed with messages concerning God’s hope and Israel’s future restoration. The judgment Israel faced was a result of the sins of the people. God was not being unfair or capricious. They were only getting what they justly deserved. But their future restoration would be totally undeserved, a result of God’s mercy and grace.

As if in a courtroom setting, God begins to list out all the offenses for which the nation Israel was guilty. In this case, He will list out the overall charges and then expand on them in later chapters. All of the charges leveled against Israel by God have to do with breaking their covenant with Him. He first accuses the Israelites of faithlessness. When God made His covenant with Israel through Moses, He had clearly told them, “Therefore, be careful to obey every command I am giving you today, so you may have strength to go in and take over the land you are about to enter. If you obey, you will enjoy a long life in the land the Lord swore to give to your ancestors and to you, their descendants—a land flowing with milk and honey!” (Deuteronomy 11:8-9 NLT). Obedience would bring God’s blessings.

But if they failed to keep God’s covenant by obeying His commands, they would experience cursings. “But be careful. Don’t let your heart be deceived so that you turn away from the Lord and serve and worship other gods. If you do, the Lord’s anger will burn against you. He will shut up the sky and hold back the rain, and the ground will fail to produce its harvests. Then you will quickly die in that good land the Lord is giving you” (Deuteronomy 11:16-17 NLT). At this point in Israel’s history, their rebellion against Him had reached an unacceptable level. They had proven themselves completely unfaithful and unwilling to obey the commands of God as outlined in the Mosaic covenant. As a result, they faced His judgment, just as He had warned.

But if you refuse to listen to the Lord your God and do not obey all the commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come and overwhelm you: Your towns and your fields will be cursed. Your fruit baskets and breadboards will be cursed. Your children and your crops will be cursed. The offspring of your herds and flocks will be cursed. Wherever you go and whatever you do, you will be cursed. The Lord himself will send on you curses, confusion, and frustration in everything you do, until at last you are completely destroyed for doing evil and abandoning me. – Deuteronomy 28:15-20 NLT

God had given them fair warning, now He was going to fulfill His promise of coming curses. The most telling accusation against the Israelites was that God claimed there was no knowledge of Him in the land. They had forgotten all about Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Instead, they had turned to false gods, including the two golden calves that Jeroboam had ordered to be made. They had also turned to Baal, the god of the Canaanites. But God, the only true god was a distant memory to them. But they were not only guilty of failing to love God, they had broken God’s command to love one another. They had disobeyed the greatest commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40 ESV).

God accused them of “swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and committing adultery” (Hosea 4:2a ESV). These are relational sins committed against one another. God went on to say, “they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed” (Hosea 4:2b ESV). Failure to love God is always accompanied by an inability to express love to one another, because God is love. His laws were designed to motivate the Israelites to defer to one another in love. But if you choose to disobey God, you will end up turning inward, focusing all your attention on yourself in an attempt to fulfill your own selfish passions and desires.

Their rejection of God was going to cause the land to reject them. The land of milk and honey would become unyielding and unproductive. Just as God had warned them:

Your towns and your fields will be cursed. Your fruit baskets and breadboards will be cursed. Your children and your crops will be cursed. The offspring of your herds and flocks will be cursed. Wherever you go and whatever you do, you will be cursed. – Deuteronomy 28:16-19 NLT

The blessings of the land would be turned to cursings. They would learn that rejection of God always has consequences, especially for the people of God. Of all people, we should know better. Having experienced His love, redemption, provision, blessings and unmerited favor, we should have a desire to express gratitude through willing obedience. When we have enjoyed the benefits of His love, why would we ever choose to turn our backs on Him and risk undergoing the removal of His blessings? But that is exactly what Israel had done and what so many of us as Christians do each and every day. Obedience always brings blessings. We enjoy His favor and rest in His love. Not because of our obedience, but as a result of how God has designed our relationship with Him. Obedience is a sign of trust. It reveals that we believe Him for who He is and what He has promised to us. We trust in His promises, so we willingly obey His commands. Obedience does not make us righteous before God, but it is a response to our having been declared righteous by Him. When we forget all that God has done for us, we run the risk of forgetting God. God had warned the Israelites that this could and would happen.

The Lord your God will soon bring you into the land he swore to give you when he made a vow to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It is a land with large, prosperous cities that you did not build. The houses will be richly stocked with goods you did not produce. You will draw water from cisterns you did not dig, and you will eat from vineyards and olive trees you did not plant. When you have eaten your fill in this land, be careful not to forget the Lord, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt. You must fear the Lord your God and serve him. – Deuteronomy 6:10-13 NLT

Forgetting God is dangerous and always a distinct possibility for each and every one of us.

1 Kings 13-14, 2 Corinthians 5

Pleasing God.

1 Kings 13-14, 2 Corinthians 5

So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. – 2 Corinthians 5:9 ESV

Solomon failed to please God. He lived in disobedience to the will of God, worshiping false gods and making the pursuit of his own personal pleasure and satisfaction his highest priority. His son, Rehoboam, would follow his example, reigning over Judah for 17 years, and failing to please God the entire time. “And Judah did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins that they committed, more than all that their fathers had done” (1 Kings 14:22 ESV). Jeroboam, God’s hand-picked king of the northern tribes of Israel, also failed to please God. He developed his own gods, temples, and priesthood. He led the people of Israel into apostasy and encouraged them to disobey God’s commands. God said of Jeroboam, “…but you have done evil above all who were before you and have gone and made for yourself other gods and metal images, provoking me to anger, and have cast me behind your back” (1 Kings 14:9 ESV). These men all looked like kings. From the outside, their kingdoms may have looked successful and their reigns may have had all the appearances of power, prestige and earthly success. But they had failed to please God, and as a result, God was forced to deal harshly with them. He split Solomon’s vast kingdom in half. He predicted the future fall and eventual deportation of the northern kingdom of Israel. He allowed the Egyptians to attack the city of Jerusalem and ransack the Temple, taking as plunder all the treasures of the house of the Lord that David and Solomon had so painstakingly collected. The history of Israel and Judah will be marked by kings who, for the most part, failed to live lives that were pleasing to God, instead, doing “what was evil in the sight of the Lord” (1 Kings 14:22 ESV).

What does this passage reveal about God?

God requires obedience. His commands were just that – commands, and not suggestions. He expected His laws to be obeyed. When He told the young prophet to go to Jeroboam and speak a word against the king and his false gods, He also told him “You shall neither eat bread nor drink water nor return by the way that you came” (1 Kings 13:9 ESV). But the young man disobeyed. Yes, he was tricked and deceived, but the bottom line is that he failed to obey the word of the Lord and as a result, his actions failed to please the Lord. His own untimely and violent death was the outcome. God takes His word seriously and He expects His people to do the same. God had given Jeroboam the kingdom of Israel to rule over. But He had also told Jeroboam, “And if you will listen to all that I command you, and will walk in my ways, and do what is right in my eyes by keeping my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did, I will be with you and will build you a sure house, as I built for David, and I will give Israel to you” (1 Kings 11:38 ESV). But Jeroboam, like Solomon and Rehoboam, would fail to live up to God’s expectations. He would not walk in God’s ways. He would end up doing what was right in his own eyes. His kingdom would last 22 years, but it would be marked by sin and rebellion against God. From all appearances, Jeroboam’s reign would have looked successful. Twenty two years would have been quite a long reign for any king during that period of time. But his kingdom would lack God’s blessing. His rule would fail to please God. Any success he experienced would have been short-lived and just as short-sighted. Having failed to please God, he would learn first hand what it was like to reign without the pleasure of God.

What does this passage reveal about man?

The apostle Paul made it his aim to live a life that was pleasing to God. He lived with an eternal perspective that focused on something other than the temporal pleasures of this life. He knew that there was life beyond this one. He understood that eternity was real and that, as believers, “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5:10 ESV). There will be an accounting one day for every Christian. We will have to own up for every word spoken and action committed while we lived on this earth. Paul tried to live his life in such a way that he would not have to be ashamed of anything he said or did while “at home in the body” (2 Corinthians 5:6 ESV). He made it his goal to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7 ESV). In other words, he lived his life motivated by the as-yet-unseen promises of God. He didn’t let the temptations of earthly pleasures or temporary trappings of this world lure him into doing anything that would be displeasing to God. “We make it our aim to please him” (2 Corinthians 5:9 ESV). For Paul, the issue was heart change. He knew that external actions or outward appearances mattered little to God. He looked at the heart. There were those who were influencing the Corinthian believers “who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart” (2 Corinthians 5:12 ESV). These people wanted to appear spiritual, but there hearts were not pleasing to God. They were focused on how they were perceived by men, and failed to worry about whether the condition of their hearts were pleasing to God. They lived for themselves. They focused on the flesh. But Paul reminded them, “…if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV). We have been made right with God. We don’t belong to this world anymore. We are eternal creatures with a future reserved for us in God’s kingdom. We are to live like citizens of that new kingdom, not this earthly, temporal one.

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

I am to live a life that is pleasing to God. He has given me the Holy Spirit as a down-payment, a sort of guarantee of what is to come in the future. He has placed His Spirit within me and provided me with a source of power that I could never have manufactured on my own. I have the capacity to live in such a way that my life pleases God. The Holy Spirit, using the Word of God, shows me just what that life should look like, and also provides me with the power to pull it off. Paul put it this way: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 ESV). I want to make it my aim to please God. I want to live my life on this earth in such a way that my words and actions will be pleasing to Him when I stand at the judgment seat of Christ one day. But I must keep an eternal focus. I must realize that this life is temporary. I must live, not for myself, but for Him who died and was raised for my sake (2 Corinthians 5:15).

Father, I want my life to please You. And I know that when I live in submission to Your Spirit and in obedience to Your Word, my life DOES please You. I am grateful that my obedience is not mandatory for remaining in a right relationship with You. I don’t have to obey to be made righteous. That was taken care of by Christ on my behalf. My obedience should be in response to what He has done for me. It should be an outward expression of the Spirit’s presence within me. As I submit to His will and obey Your Word, my life will be pleasing to You. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

2 Chronicles 13-16

The Power of Weakness.

“So Judah defeated Israel because they trusted in the LORD, the God of their ancestors.” ­– 2 Chronicles 13:18 NLT

These are bleak times in the history of the nation of Israel. The nation has split in two. The tribe of Judah represents the southern kingdom, while the remaining tribes have broken off and formed their own nation with their own gods and places of worship. It is the beginning of a cycle of rebellion and unfaithfulness in both kingdoms. But occasionally we are given glimpses of light in the midst of the darkness. Chapter 13 of 2 Chronicles is just such a time. War has broken out between Judah and Israel. Judah has an army of 400,000 warriors, but is still outnumbered two to one by the northern kingdom. The odds are against them. They are facing an army of superior strength. Yet Abijah, king of Judah confronts King Jeroboam of Israel and warns him to think twice about sending his army against the army of Yahweh.”Do you really think you can stand against the kingdom of the LORD that is led by the descendants of David? Your army is vast indeed, but with you are those gold calves that Jeroboam made as your gods!” (2 Chronicles 13:9 NLT). Abijah expresses his confidence in God even in the face of what appears to be insurmountable odds. “We are following the instructions of the LORD our God, but you have abandoned him. So you see, God is with us. He is our leader. His priests blow their trumpets and lead us into battle against you. O people of Israel, do not fight against the LORD, the God of your ancestors, for you will not succeed!” (2 Chronicles 13:11-12 NLT).

While the people of Judah had been far from perfect in their faithfulness to God, they had not yet rejected Him fully or replaced Him with gods of their own making. They still worshiped at the temple erected by Solomon. They still called on Yahweh for help in time of need. Jeroboam and the people of Israel had replaced God with golden calves. As always, this was going to boil down to a difference in theology, not numerical advantage or military might. As is so often the case in the Bible, the story would not turn out the way most people would have expected. Like the people of Israel facing the Egyptians at the Red Sea or David facing Goliath on the field of battle, the victory would not go to the strongest or mightiest. Judah was going to rely on what God had done, but Israel would end up trusting in what she could do. Judah would trust in the power of God. Israel would trust in their own strength. In making their own gods and establishing their own places of worship, Israel had rejected God and His power and provision. Rather than trust in the grace of God, they decided to lean on their own understanding and rely on their own strength. But their superior numbers would prove no match for God.

This story reminds me of the words of Paul in his letter to the Corinthian believers: “Since I know it is all for Christ’s good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10 NLT). When I am weak, then I am strong. What a clear summation of the Christian faith. Strength in weakness. With God, all things are possible. But to avail ourselves of His power, we must first reject any idea that we have what it takes to do what He has called us to do. Judah knew they were outnumbered. But they also knew they had God. This battle would not be won on the basis of their own strength, but on God’s. “When Judah realized that they were being attacked from the front and the rear, they cried out to the LORD for help. Then the priests blew the trumpets, and the men of Judah began to shout. At the sound of their battle cry, God defeated Jeroboam and the Israelite army and routed them before Abijah and the army of Judah. The Israelite army fled from Judah, and God handed them over to Judah in defeat” (2 Chronicles 13:14-16 NLT). In a time of need, they cried out to God, and He answered. He fought on their behalf. He heard their cry and He answered their call. God is in the delivering business. He is the Lord of Hosts, the commander of armies. He wants to show Himself strong on behalf of His people. But we must first admit our weakness and cry out for His deliverance. We must rely on His infinite mercy and grace. Judah defeated Israel because they trusted in the Lord. What are the insurmountable odds you face in your life today? What battles do you find yourself in? Are you willing to admit your weakness and cry out to God for His deliverance? There is power in weakness.

Father, You are still in the delivering business. But I first need to admit my need for Your help and confess my own weakness. You want to show Your strength to me, not the other way around. Thank You for continually revealing my own weakness through the circumstances of life. May I increasingly turn to You for strength and victory in the battles I face. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

2 Chronicles 10-11

Just How Sovereign Is God?

“Go home, for what has happened is my doing.” ­– 2 Chronicles 11:4 NLT

Chapters 10 and 11 of 2 Chronicles contains virtually the same information contained in 1 Kings 12 and 13, with a few exceptions. They literally chronicle the sad demise of Solomon’s grand kingdom as it splits into two separate entities. No longer unified under the banner of Yahweh, the northern and southern kingdoms go their separate ways, yet both unified in their pursuit of false gods over the one true God. God had “warned Solomon specifically about worshiping other gods, but Solomon did not listen to the Lord’s command” (1 Kings 11:16 NLT). God had told Solomon “I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your servants” (1 Kings 11:11 NLT), and that is exactly what He did. God orchestrated the entire thing. He raised up Jeroboam, a virtually unknown young man who was the son of a single mother. As he grew up, he became one of the workers helping to repair the walls of the city of Jerusalem, one of the many construction projects funded by Solomon. He was a hard worker and was later recognized by Solomon for his diligence and leadership. As a result, Solomon would make him a foreman over a team of workers. Little did Solomon know that this young man was going to be used by God to bring about the destruction of his own kingdom. When he did catch wind of Jeroboam’s anointing by the prophet Ahijah (1 Kings 11:29), Solomon tried to have him killed. But Jeroboam would flee to Egypt, only to return at a later date, when Solomon’s son Rehoboam was on the throne.

God was in charge. He always had been and always would be. He is in charge today. Nothing escapes His notice. Nothing is out from under His sovereign control and power. He rules and reigns over everyone and everything, whether we realize it or not – whether it looks like it or not. Rehoboam would go through all kinds of efforts to fortify against attack the cities remaining in his diminished kingdom. But little did he know that God was the one preserving the tribe of Judah. “But I will leave him (Solomon) one tribe for the sake of my servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel” (1 Kings 11:32 NLT). God didn’t need Rehoboam’s help in protecting Jerusalem or preserving the tribe of Judah. God had it covered.

At the end of the day, God’s will was going to be done. The same thing is true in our world today. Tsunamis, earthquakes, nuclear disasters, wars, rebellions, egomaniacal despots, and well-armed military powers are no match for the sovereign will of God Almighty. He has been working His divine plan since before the creation of the world. He is never caught off guard, left empty handed, surprised or out of control. His will is always done and always done perfectly. The best schemes of men can not in any way alter the prefect plans of God. Rehoboam would declare war of Jeroboam. He could try and eliminate him as a threat. He could try and restore the kingdom to its former glory. But it would all be useless in light of God’s much greater plan. This was about much more than Solomon’s kingdom, Rehoboam’s reign, or Israel’s diminished influence in the Middle East. This was about God’s much larger story of the redemption of man. God had chosen Israel as His people from all the nations of the earth. He had chosen the tribe of Judah out of all the tribes of Israel. He had chosen David out of all the sons of Jesse. He had chosen Bethlehem out of all the cities of Israel. He had chosen the time of Augustus Caesar, when Rome was at its zenith in terms of influence, to send His Son to be born to a young virgin girl who was a descendant of David herself. God’s plan involved Solomon, Rehoboam, Jeroboam, Mary, Joseph, Herod, Pilate, Judas and so many others. But it was about so much more than them. It was about God. It always has been. This is His story of redemption, and the star has always been and will always be His Son Jesus Christ. “What has happened is my doing!” Everything that has ever happened is ultimately God’s doing. Does God commit evil? Does God cause sin? Does God produce rebellion in the lives of those He creates? No. But He allows it. He tolerates it. He uses it. Man has always been free to choose his own way, to fulfill the desires of his heart, to make his own destiny. But at the end of the day, God is always in control. His will cannot be deterred or diminished. His way will always be accomplished. So when we face difficulties or trials, we can rest assured that God is in control. He is not asleep, away from His post, or unaware of what is going on. He is sovereign and He is at work. Rest easy. Relax. Rejoice.

Father, Your Word is a reminder of Your sovereign will. All the machinations of men cannot alter one inch the plan You have put into place for the world and all those who live in it. Earthquakes are no problem for You. Military powers are no match for You. Disobedient, rebellious individuals are no setback for You. What shocks and surprises us is nothing to You. You never worry, ring Your hands in anxiety, or cry Yourself to sleep at night in fear. Your plan is perfect and You are fulfilling it to perfection. Thank You! Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

1 Kings 13-14

Divided Kingdom. Divided Allegiance.

“There was constant war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam.” ­– 1 Kings 14:30 NLT

What a sad time in the history of the people of Israel. Gone are the glory days of Solomon. During his days, gold and silver were in abundance. Israel was wealthy, powerful, and influential. They enjoyed an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity. But now the kingdom was divided into north and south. The once powerful tribe of Judah was alone. The other tribes had split off and formed the northern kingdom of Israel. Their leader was Jeroboam, a former servant of Rehoboam, Solomon’s son and heir to his throne. But in spite of their differences, the two kingdom shared one thing in common: They were both unfaithful to God. Rehoboam and Jeroboam had followed in Solomon’s footsteps, erecting idols to other gods. Jeroboam had gone so far as to establish a completely separate worship system for the people in the northern kingdom. He chose and ordained his own priests and set up his own holy cities. There he erected altars to the gods he had made – two golden calves.

God was not happy. But He wasn’t surprised either. He knew this was going to happen – after all, He’s God. And because He is God, He had to deal with the divided allegiance of both Judah and Israel. To Jeroboam He said, “I promoted you from the ranks of the common people and made you ruler over my people Israel. I ripped the kingdom away from the family of David and gave it to you. But you have not been like my servant David, who obeyed my commands and followed me with all his heart and always did whatever I wanted him to do. You have done more evil than all who lived before you. You have made other gods and have made me furious with your gold calves. And since you have turned your back on me, I will bring disaster on your dynasty” (1 Kings 14:7-10 NLT). God had chosen Jeroboam and given him all he had. In return, Jeroboam had turned his back on God. He had disobeyed Him and chosen to serve gods of his own choosing. But Rehoboam was no better. “During Rehoboam’s reign, the people of Judah did what was evil in the LORD’s sight, arousing his anger with their sin, for it was even worse than that of their ancestors. They built pagan shrines and set up sacred pillars and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every green tree. There were even shrine prostitutes throughout the land. The people imitated the detestable practices of the pagan nations the LORD had driven from the land ahead of the Israelites” (1 Kings 14:22-24 NLT).

So God was forced to deal with their disobedience and apostasy. In fact, you see throughout these two chapters, that God is serious about the obedience of His chosen people. Even the young prophet, “the man of God” whom God sent with a word of warning for Jeroboam, suffered death because he refused to obey God completely. It would be easy to look at these two chapters and paint God as a vengeful, angry god who wipes out all those who disagree with Him. But what you have is a picture of the holiness of God in the face of the sinfulness of men. God graciously chooses these men and gives them places of prominence and importance in His kingdom. He makes them a part of His divine plan. In return, He asks for obedience. He reveals His power to them. He makes clear His expectations. The writer of the book of 1st Kings works hard to point out that disobedience brings a curse while obedience brings blessing. The reign of Solomon is described in great detail, pointing out the tremendous blessings of God on the people of God as long as they obeyed Him. But beginning with Solomon we see a pattern of willful rejection of the commands of God. And God is forced to deal with the divided allegiance of His people. He has chosen them, set them apart for His glory, and established them as His own. Their response? They reject Him. They disobey Him. They turn from Him.

And the pattern continues to this day. We love to enjoy the blessings of God. As the people of God, we expect them – even demand them. We pray for, and fully expect to enjoy peace, prosperity, abundance, joy, health, happiness, and a relatively care-free life. And for the most part, we do. But what is our response to the blessings of God? More often than not, it is disobedience. It is divided allegiance. We end up making other gods, replacements for the one true God. We turn to other things for our happiness, fulfillment, satisfaction, encouragement, peace of mind, and protection. We end up worshiping the gods of entertainment, money, materialism, pleasure, politics, career, sex, and even self. And then we are shocked and appalled when God is forced to deal with our unfaithfulness. We don’t understand how a loving God can deal so unlovingly just because we have turned our back on Him. But God so often disciplines us because He loves us. Hebrews 12:6 reminds us, “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves and chastises every son he accepts.” God wants us to obey Him because He wants to bless us. He wants us to enjoy His best for us. But He cannot tolerate our willful rebellion and rejection of Him. There are consequences for turning our backs on God. He continues to show grace and mercy, but He doesn’t turn a blind eye to our rebellion. To do so would make Him less than God. So, “As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Whoever heard of a child who was never disciplined? If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children after all. Since we respect our earthly fathers who disciplined us, should we not all the more cheerfully submit to the discipline of our heavenly Father and live forever ? For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always right and good for us because it means we will share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening — it is painful! But afterward there will be a quiet harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.” (Hebrews 12:7-11 NLT).

Father, help me to realize that my allegiance to You can become so easily divided. I can walk away from You so quickly and pursue gods of my own making. And yet, when I do, I am shocked when I suffer the consequences. I almost demand that You bless me. I want the blessing without the obedience. But that is not the way You work. You demand obedience. You have already blessed me is so many ways. You have chosen me, saved me. redeemed me, and promised me eternal life. In return, you ask that I trust You, obey You, follow You, and remain faithful to You. But I don’t want to obey You out of fear or some sense of obligation, but willingly and gratefully, because of all that You have done for me. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

1 Kings 12

A Turn For The Worse.

“After seeking advice, the king made two golden calves. He said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” ­– 1 Kings 12:28 NLT

Solomon is gone. But he has left behind a legacy far more significant than his wisdom, magnificent royal palace and powerful kingdom. His son, Rehoboam, would inherit his throne, but also his love of women and his habit of worshiping the gods of his foreign-born wives. We are told in 1 Kings 11 that while he was still alive, Solomon “followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites. So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the LORD; he did not follow the LORD completely, as David his father had done” (1 Kings 11:5-6 NLT). As a result, God warned Solomon of he consequences of his rebellion. “Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates” (1 Kings 11:11 NLT). God would choose Jeroboam, one of Solomon’s servants, and give him ten of the tribes of Israel. Later the tribe of Simeon would later migrate north and join the northern tribes, leaving Rehoboam with only the tribe of Judah and the city of Jerusalem. Solomon’s once powerful kingdom would be no more. And God makes it clear why all this was going to happen: “I will do this because they have forsaken me and worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Molech the god of the Ammonites, and have not walked in my ways, nor done what is right in my eyes, nor kept my statutes and laws as David, Solomon’s father, did” (1 Kings 11:33 NLT).

In chapter 12 we see all that God had predicted taking place. It is almost painful to watch as Rehoboam, the son of the wisest man who ever lived, effectively destroys all that his father had spent years building. Rehoboam is the consummate expression of the fool lived out in real life. He refuses counsel, is wiser than his elders, and rash in his decision making. His foolish leadership causes the people to rebel, splitting the kingdom in two. Even in the northern kingdom, now led by Jeroboam, they end up walking away from God, worshiping gods of their own making. “After seeking advice, the king made two golden calves. He said to the people, ‘It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’ One he set up in Bethel, and the other in Dan. And this thing became a sin; the people went even as far as Dan to worship the one there” (1 Kings 12:28-30 NLT). A split kingdom with two rulers, both with divided hearts. Somehow they both forgotten all that God had done for them. They had failed to remember that God had made them a people. He had given them this land. He had made them His own. He had set them apart for His use and for His glory. But they had made this story all about them. It was their will in place of His. It was their way rather than His. In their eyes, God was replaceable. They didn’t stop worshiping. They just stopped worshiping Him alone. They turned to other gods, rather than to the one true God. They created gods they could control – gods of their own making. And that tendency is alive and well among men today. We are still finding ways to make replacements for God in our lives. We look elsewhere for someone or something to bring us comfort, peace, joy, fulfillment, pleasure, power, confidence, and acceptance. We end up making idols out of just about everything. We worship and adore all kinds of things besides God. And the easiest way to discover what it is we worship is to look at where we spend our time, money, and attention. What do you worry about the most? That is your god. What do you think about the most? That is your god. What do you look to to bring you pleasure? That is your god. Where do you turn when you are in trouble? That is your god. Rehoboam and Jeroboam were both guilty of turning from the one true God to seek after false gods. But their spirit of rebellion didn’t die with them. We have inherited their tendencies. We are tempted to do the same thing. But do we recognize it? Will we turn from it? In his book, Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller defines an idol this way, “It is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give.” Simple, straightforward and convicting. We could each stand to examine our lives and see what we have placed on the altar of our hearts in place of God.

Father, You alone are God. Forgive me for erecting my own gods in an attempt to meet my own needs and live my own life according to my own terms. Help me to learn from the lessons of Rehoboam and Jeroboam. Open our eyes so that we might see the replacements for You we have allowed to come into our lives. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men