The Cost of Broken Covenants

The Cost of Broken Covenants

“During the reign of David, there was a famine for three successive years; so David sought the face of the Lord.” – 2 Samuel 21:1a

There was a famine in the land, and David equated that famine to the blessing or lack of blessing from God. He sought God to know why there was a famine. The Lord did not take long to answer: “It is on account of Saul and his blood-stained house; it is because he put the Gibeonites to death” (2 Sam. 21:1b).

Many years earlier, when Joshua entered the Promised Land, the Israelites were tricked by the Gibeonites into believing they were travelers when they were actually enemies of Israel. The Gibeonites tricked Israel into making a peace treaty with them. It was one of the first major mistakes Israel made after entering the Promised Land. As a result of the peace treaty, the Gibeonites were kept as slaves to Israel. This was never God’s intention for Israel. He had wanted Israel to destroy all their enemies, but they made an error in judgment that required that they honor a covenant with the Gibeonites.

Saul made a decision to disregard this covenant with the Gibeonites and sought to annihilate them. David sensed there was something preventing God’s blessing on Israel. As a nation they had violated a covenant made before God. Now they were reaping the consequences.

There are two things we can learn from this story. First, when we make a covenant, God expects us to fulfill it. God is a covenant maker. He made one with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He made one with each of us through Jesus Christ. The Scriptures are numerous regarding the importance of honoring our commitments.

Second, God is a very longsuffering God. He gave Israel many years of grace before He exercised judgment for their sin. However, there always comes a day when God must uphold His standard of righteousness.

Are you failing to walk in God’s blessing due to some failed commitment? Calamities can befall us for many reasons; sin can be one of them. In the case of Israel, David had to make things right with the Gibeonites. When he did this, God removed the famine, and Israel again was prosperous. When you feel you lack God’s blessing on your life, ask the Lord if there are any past – generation sins that you may need to repent of. He may be waiting on us before He can release His blessing on our lives.

One of the Twelve

One of the Twelve

“And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.” – 2 Corinthians 5:15

It is believed that there were about 5,000 believers during the time of Christ. Among those believers, it was thought there were three types. The largest number of believers were those who came to Jesus for salvation. They served Him little beyond coming to Him to receive salvation. A much smaller number, say 500, actually followed Him and served Him. Then, there were the disciples. These were those who identified with Jesus. They lived the life that Jesus lived. Each of these ultimately died in difficult circumstances. They experienced the hardships, the miracles, and the fellowship with God in human form.

If you had to say which group best represented your life, which one would you fall into – the 5,000 who simply believed, the 500 who followed and sought to implement what they were learning from the Savior, or the 12 who identified completely with the life and mission of the Savior? Jesus has called each of us to identify with Him completely. “This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did” (1 Jn. 2:5b-6).

Pray that God will allow you to walk as Jesus did. Experience His power and love in your life today so that others will see the hope that lies in you.

How to Plan

How to Plan

The preparations of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.  Proverbs 16:1

Recommended Reading – James 4:13-16

Dating back to the Roman Empire, one of the hallmarks of jurisprudence in America and other nations is the presumption of innocence. That is, a defendant is presumed to be innocent until he is proven guilty. As the Romans put it, “The burden of proof is on he who declares, not on he who denies.” Presumption in this case protects individual rights, but in the spiritual realm presumption is not advised.

The apostle James suggested as much when he said that presuming to know God’s will without inquiring is unwise. He used the example of a group of men planning to start a new business in a distant city; they were totally confident their plan would be successful and therefore profitable (James 4:13-16). But James said such thinking is arrogant and boastful; God might have a different plan in mind. “Instead [we] ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that'” (James 4:15). Man can plan, but God has the final say (Proverbs 16:1).

Do you have plans for today? Whether they are simple or complex, submit them to God for His approval. Invite Him to guide your steps along the way according to His will.

Whether you shall live to reach home today or not depends absolutely upon God’s will.
Charles H. Spurgeon

 

 

Avoiding Confusion

Avoiding Confusion

For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. 1 Corinthians 14:33

Recommended Reading – James 3:14-16

United States President Barack Obama quoted from 1 Corinthians 13 in his first inauguration address. At the funeral of Britain’s Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997, Prime Minister Tony Blair read 1 Corinthians 13. This so-called “love chapter” of the Bible is an iconic piece of literature.

The apostle Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 13 to the church at Corinth because they were the opposite of a loving church! They were divisive, boastful, immoral, suing each other, arguing over food, degrading the Lord’s Table, and competing over spiritual gifts. The church at Corinth fit the description given by James of people who follow after worldly wisdom: “Confusion and every evil thing are there” (James 3:16). So Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 13 to say that love is the most important part of the Christian life — and that God is the author of peace.

If there is confusion in any of your relationships, examine the kind of wisdom being applied — whether it is heavenly or worldly. Heavenly wisdom is pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good works, impartial, and without hypocrisy (James 3:17).

The one who has wisdom in his head and heart does not need to shout at others.
Spiros Zodhiates

 

Building a Solid Foundation

Building a Solid Foundation

“But everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.” – Matthew 7:26

There were two kinds of people in the days of Jesus. Some heard the words that Jesus spoke and were awed by His wisdom and understanding, but did nothing about what they heard. Others heard those words and acted on them. Jesus said that those who heard the words but failed to put them into practice were foolish and likened them to building a house on sand. How foolish, indeed, it would be to build a house on sand.

The person who followed what Jesus taught was a person who would be sure to weather life’s storms.

Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock (Matthew 7:24-25).

You never know how well your house is built until it is tested by the elements. Torrential rains reveal the quality of your roof. Wind and cold reveal how well your home is insulated. Heat and sun reveal the quality of your paint and siding. All these elements reveal whether a solid foundation has been laid to make your home a secure and lasting place to live.

Many of us find that we have given only lip service to God’s commands. We are faced with the reality that our foundations are not strong enough to weather life’s storms. How do we react when the trials come? Do we fret and worry? Do we take life into our hands? Do we respond inappropriately when we don’t get what we want? The Lord uses these times to help us recognize whether our foundations are sand or rock. Ask the Lord today if you have built on His rock. If so, you can be comforted to know that you can weather any storm that may come your way.

True Wisdom

True Wisdom

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.
James 3:13

Recommended Reading – James 4:6-7

A group sets out on a journey, accompanied by a servant, Leo, who is a powerful presence. Leo performs all the menial tasks and also encourages and motivates by his spirit. One day Leo disappears, the group falls apart, and the journey is abandoned. Years later, one of the members encounters Leo and discovers he is the powerful leader of the organization that originally sponsored the journey. That story inspired Robert Greenleaf to found the modern “servant leadership” movement.

Is it possible to be a servant and also a leader? Is it possible to be both humble and wise? The answer is yes — Jesus was both a servant and a leader, both humble and wise (Matthew 23:11; Mark 10:45). The apostle James wrote that true good works are done in the “meekness [humility] of wisdom.” Wisdom is always wise for two reasons: First, wisdom comes from fearing the Lord, something arrogance cannot do (Proverbs 9:10). Second, the Hebrew meaning of wisdom is “skill” — and experience shows that the most skillful leaders are, usually, the most humble.

When you lead today – and everyone is a leader somewhere – purpose to lead with the humility of wisdom & the beauty of grace.

The surest mark of true conversion is humility.
J. C. Ryle

 

 

The Devil’s Sway

The Devil’s Sway

You are of your father the devil …. He was a murderer from the beginning … He is a liar and the father of it.
John 8:44

Recommended Reading – 1 John 5:14-21

In his first epistle, the apostle John makes a remarkable statement: “The whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1 John 5:19). That would seem to include the whole unsaved geopolitical, economic, entertainment, and educational world — all the world lies under Satan’s sway. He is a murderer and liar from the beginning. In lying to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, he led them into sin and, in effect, murdered the whole human race in a single moment. He brought death upon all humanity.

The failure of earthly wisdom began in the Garden of Eden. But the power of heavenly wisdom triumphed at the cross and tomb of Christ. In another passage, John said, “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).

The wisest choice we can ever make is to lean on and learn from our Lord Jesus Christ. As we receive Him as Savior and commune with Him daily in His Word, we’ll be growing in wisdom. The blood of Jesus will overturn the devil’s schemes, and God’s Word will counteract Satan’s lies.

Satan must be defeated in the arena he dominates, this world. So Christ was sent into this world to destroy Satan’s works.
Charles C. Ryrie