Bible Readers

With Pastor Dave Roussel

Category: Bible (Page 1 of 74)

Who Helps Steer Your Decisions?

December 19 – Today’s Readings – 2Chronicles 22-24 and Proverbs 19

There is only one observation I want to leave with you today – be careful whom you trust to give you advice!

The kings mentioned in these chapters are excellent examples of good & bad mentoring and good & bad decision making. Chapter 22:3-5 reads, “He too walked in the ways of the house of Ahab, for his mother encouraged him in doing wrong. He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, as the house of Ahab had done, for after his father’s death they became his advisers, to his undoing. He also followed their counsel…”

Imagine your own mother giving you encouragement to do evil! Then – be amazed at this King of Judah taking counsel from the ungodly Israelite advisors. This lethal combination of “guidance” led the man and the nation into great sin but also led the new King to his death within one year of taking power. Just because someone is very close to you does not mean they will give you sound advice. Just because someone is called “counselor” does not mean they will lead you closer to God’s thinking. I’ve known marriage “counselors” to encourage divorce for relatively small problems in a relationship. I’ve also known Pastors to encourage the member of one Church to leave and come to their Church just because they wanted another member and more income! These are the kinds of traps we must learn to avoid by the Spirit of God. You will always find someone willing to take sides with you in making a wrong decision. The “counsel” of an ill-meaning advisor can justify almost any bad decision.

2 Chronicles 24:2 shows us the flip side of the coin; “Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all the years of Jehoiada the priest.” Here is a young king under the tutelage of a priest who had some knowledge and understanding in the ways of God. He received such strong and sound mentoring from this priest that he led the nation in the ways of Lord all the days of Jehoiada’s life. This was a young man who was not too proud to submit himself to Godly wisdom – a trait not often found today. We live in a day of decision making based solely on what is easiest or what is most profitable for us at the time. As we know from the teachings of Christ, that the “broad way” is not necessarily the best way. The ways of God must be followed by not turning to the right or to the left. Following Jesus means that we keep our eyes on Him and not on the circumstances we find ourselves in. Chapter 24:17-26 tells us the tragic turn of events at the end of this story. When the good counselor died, so did the righteous behavior of the King. This highlights the importance of having people you are accountable to for your moral behavior. If you have nobody close to you who can help steer your decisions for good, you can soon find yourself in deep spiritual trouble or deception. On the other hand, one godly friend who is not afraid to speak his mind can keep you from making huge mistakes in life.

Questions:

1. Give another Bible example of how bad advice led to very bad decisions.
2. Give an example from your own life where cacayou received Godly advice and thus made excellent life choices.

A Look at “Sprirtual Warfare”

December 18 – Today’s Readings – 2Chronicles 19-21 and Proverbs 18

Picture the details of Jehoshaphat’s miraculous victory in Chapter 20, then transfer the same pattern of “spiritual warfare” to your own life. God seems to delight in fighting our battles for us when we come to Him in worship and acknowledge Him as our source of victory. Time and again in Scripture we find God doing great things for people who put their confidence in Him. The actual military strategy used here is also of great interest for us. We tend to walk into “battles” and face difficulties with our hands in a protective stance; our fists clenched and fire in our eyes. Jehoshaphat went into battle with a song of praise and worship on his lips and his hands raised to God in thanksgiving. What a picture – spending time praising God and resting in Him when faced with life-and-death issues. This is a perfect portrait of having “faith as a little child”. It is also the exact opposite of how we usually deal with our struggles.

Moving right along to Jehoshaphat’s son, Jehoram – what a pathetic excuse for a king this man was – killing his own family – turning the nation to pagan practices, and generally doing evil in the Lord’s sight. (Sounds like some of our world leaders today, doesn’t it?)

The point I find most fascinating is found in Chapter 21:7 – “Nevertheless, because of the covenant the LORD had made with David, the LORD was not willing to destroy the house of David. He had promised to maintain a lamp for him and his descendants forever.” My daughter and I were reflecting on the fact that so much of what we take for granted in our North American society is because of “residual blessing”. God saw the hearts and zeal of many of our forefathers and blessed our nation. Our laws were based primarily on Scriptural principles and our general society was set up in a God-centered way. For decades, the most prominent buildings of each town were the churches, followed by church-sponsored schools, hospitals and community halls, which were almost all staffed by Christians. As we watch the deterioration of morality in our communities, we wonder why our society still holds together. My guess is that it’s partly because God sees all the good some of our forefathers did and refuses to completely destroy us because of their righteousness.

There is another serious implication here. When we live strong, sincere, worshipping lives before the Lord, we can be assured that God is taking notes and that GENERATIONS of our offspring will be blessed because we laid a proper foundation for them. Let’s be faithful to live for the Lord to the end. In this way we will be paving the way for grandchildren and great-grandchildren to live with a godly heritage. “…but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” [Exodus 20:6]

Questions:

1. Give another example from Scripture where worship was used to do “spiritual warfare”.
2. Give an example from your life where you worshiped and rested in God while a battle raged around you.

What A Guy!

December 17 – Today’s Readings – 2Chronicles 16-18 and Proverbs 17

Leaving King Asa behind, we come to the chronicles of Jehoshaphat his son, who really is a very refreshing Biblical character. Here’s a summary of the good things he did in Chapters 17&18

“The LORD was with Jehoshaphat because in his early years he walked in the ways his father David had followed. He did not consult the Baals but sought the God of his father and followed his commands rather than the practices of Israel. The LORD established the kingdom under his control; and all Judah brought gifts to Jehoshaphat, so that he had great wealth and honor. His heart was devoted to the ways of the LORD; furthermore, he removed the high places and the Asherah poles from Judah.”(17:3-6)
He sent the Priests and Levites and “They taught throughout Judah, taking with them the Book of the Law of the LORD; they went around to all the towns of Judah and taught the people.” (17:9)
It always amazes me that a large group of people can be influenced towards good or bad by a very small group. It goes to show that every person has a choice as to whether they will serve the Lord or not but certain people are “movers and shakers” for God. The Lord calls us, pours out His grace – His Spirit and sets us up for success but ultimately only we can decide whether we will follow Him and do His bidding. Just think about it – the only thing Jesus asked His disciples to do was follow Him. They had to get up and leave their old lives behind. If these fellows hadn’t done it, we would have never known their names. I really only have one decision to make in life – will I follow Jesus or not. After this, every other decision falls into place.

Just one more quick thought – when Jehoshaphat “cried out” in battle, what do you suppose he cried? Whatever it was, it was a clear sign to the enemy that this was not the king they were after. A godless king would be cursing and crying out to Baal. This was obviously a Godly man for he cried out to the Lord in such a way that the enemy turned from him. My first thought here is that if we find ourselves in trouble, our response should be to “cry out” to the Lord – not curse under our breath. Recently I heard about a certain Christian woman who was physically attacked but when she cried out to the Lord, her attacker fled! I don’t know about you but I think I’ll store this one up as a primary weapon of defense! The next time I find myself in peril, I know that a quick, urgent message to the Lord (Help Me Jesus!) will bring the best help available.

“The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.” [Psalms 34:17]
“Cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills [his purpose] for me.” [Psalms 57:2]
Questions:

1. How can we flee “Baals” or “Asherah Poles” and worship God alone?
2. Have you ever had an experience where God rescued you when you “cried out”?

A Not-So-Good Grandma

December 16 – Today’s Readings – 2Chronicles 13-15 and Proverbs 16

2Chronicles 15:8-9 reads – “When Asa heard these words and the prophecy of Azariah son of Oded the prophet, he took courage. He removed the detestable idols from the whole land of Judah and Benjamin and from the towns he had captured in the hills of Ephraim. He repaired the altar of the LORD that was in front of the portico of the LORD’s temple. Then he assembled all Judah and Benjamin and the people from Ephraim, Manasseh and Simeon who had settled among them, for large numbers had come over to him from Israel when they saw that the LORD his God was with him.”

It’s amazing to see that one man who sets himself to seek the Lord can make such a huge impact in his lifetime. Asa was raised in a primarily backslidden country, although his dad had begun to serve the Lord in times of need. He had a grandmother who was so godless that she was setting up places of pagan worship (Asherah Poles) in the midst of spiritual revival. Although scholars disagree as to the specific appearance of these poles, there is general agreement that they were carved or sculpted statues or totems, primarily made from standing trees. The themes portrayed on them mostly involved a “goddess” along with intertwined serpents, lions and other animals. She was “worshipped” as many things but mainly as a fertility symbol, appearing topless on these statues that were often shaped in the form of a phallus. As such, the worshippers at the Asherah poles would partake in semi-public sexual acts with the “priestesses” of the goddess. Can you see why this “god” caused so much trouble in Israel? Asa deposed his own grandma because she would not humble her heart before God and get rid of the Asherah.

The enemy has consistently used human sexuality as one of the primary means of drawing people away from their first love of God. Perverted sexuality is still just as prevalent in our society, and so it seems are the “Asherah Pole” ceremonies. Let there be no doubt – our relationship with God suffers when we allow sexual sin to be part of our lives. Human sexuality is a gift of God and to enjoy this gift He gave us Holy Matrimony, the “till death do us part” union between man and woman.

When King Asa began to walk with the Lord good things started to happen in the nation. All of Judah began to have victory and renewed spiritual life. They went so far as to declare national repentance and proclaim that they would all serve the Lord. Can these things happen today? Can a nation be changed? Well, it probably depends on how many Asas are making decisions to serve the Lord. We can never underestimate the power of one person who decides to truly walk with Jesus and make a difference. How about you and I? Will it be said of us that we influenced others and helped bring a fresh visitation of God to our nation?

Questions:

1. Give another example of a Bible character who made right moral choices and as a result changed his environment.
2. Give an example of a good moral decision you made that changed your life.

Many Lovers

December 15 – Today’s Readings – 2Chronicles 10-12 and Proverbs 15

1 Kings 11:1-3 and 7-11 reads, “King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter —Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. They were from nations about which the LORD had told the Israelites, ‘You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.’ Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray. On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable god of Moab, and for Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites. He did the same for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and offered sacrifices to their gods … Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the LORD’s command. So the LORD said to Solomon, “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.”

I included this portion from 1 Kings today to let you read the “end of the story” in Solomon’s life. What a disaster – that the greatest man in the entire world would end up in disgrace. Remember guys – “those” kind of girls are nothing but trouble!

Now – on to today’s reading. Chapter 10 of 2Chronicles tells a story that is all too common today as well. Here we find a young man making a big mistake because he took advice from the young and inexperienced instead of listening to wisdom. In the complex world of decisions we all face, there is certainly a need of wisdom in our lives as we try to navigate our way. I have always been privileged to have wise men and women in my life. As I was growing up my father and mother were always there with a word of caution or a word of encouragement. It’s amazing how I can still hear echoes of their voices even though I now have many good advisors surrounding me. The Church leaders I work with and the members of my household are people of reflection and prayer. My Pastor and my wife in particular provide “The Word of the Lord” for me. Holy Scripture also provides daily insight about how to stay away from bad choices. It’s hard to go too far wrong if you are filled with the Holy Spirit, read the Word prayerfully and submit yourself to wise people. Here, in this chapter, the older advisors gave one bit of advice and the younger ones another. This should have been a warning sign for the young king. What was staring him in the face was a potential split in the kingdom. Wisdom and grace were the only way to save the situation. Unfortunately, this guy had never learned to walk closely with God, so he was really on his own. His grandfather had been a man of faith and his father had also done well in his early years. This young man however was not close to God and had therefore not learned the secret of “listening” – listening to The Spirit’s voice – listening to Godly mentors – listening to “wise voices from the past” – listening to the Word of God. Only a fool makes decisions without wise and proven consultation. Above all else, we must seek God with humble hearts, for in the end only He is the “Wonderful Counselor”.

Questions:

1. Solomon served other God’s because of his wives. Why do Christians now days serve other Gods?
2. Tell of a Bible character who listened to counsel and made good choices.

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