Rebuke 

~~MTS-4307
Rebuke
“Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord? Because of this, the wrath of the Lord is on you.”      2 Ch. 19:2
    King Jehoshaphat had been doing so well his entire life, yet his name was blemished by a blunder that he committed - he made an alliance with Ahab. Jehu the seer, son of Hanani, went to the king and pointed out the mistake he had made, stating, “because of this, the wrath of the Lord is on you.”
    King Jehoshaphat might not have thought what he did was such a big deal, since it was more of a political alliance than anything else. As far the marriage was concerned, it was a political deal which didn’t mean much to him personally. He could have made a justification for his deed by bringing up the welfare of Judah into the discussion.
    Obviously, it was not absolutely a necessity that he chose to do what he did, really. He could have chosen to do otherwise and things would have turned out to be just fine. Yet he decided to befriend the ungodly, greedy, and justice-abusing, idol-crutching Ahab, and his integrity was compromised and his name smeared. And from then on, he would always be remembered as someone who started his kingship with a bang, and ended with a whimper. 
    Of course there was still “some good” in King Jehoshaphat and a little blemish late in his life didn’t do away with all the good deeds he had done. Yet it only goes to show the importance of ending one’s career well, for our ending is what people remember us by, and our ending may easily ruin our judicious beginning.
    Aren’t we all a mixed bag of good and bad, virtue and vice, purity and profanity? Apart from God’s mercy and the Lord Jesus’ merit on the cross we would never be justified before the Lord. This, however, does not excuse us from trying to do good consistently and to maintain our integrity throughout our life.
    It was a great blunder that Jehoshaphat committed and it became one of those monumental events in the king’s otherwise illustrious life that defined him. And it may have been something that brought a good amount of remorse and regret to the king in his old age.
    As I am approaching the sunset of my days, I dread that something such as this may occur to me and ruin whatever good name I have been constructing my entire life. We ought to do our best to finish our race well, lest we stumble and become a laughingstock to the unbelieving world. 

 

Posted by Robert Sea Wednesday, December 21, 2016 7:51:00 AM Categories: Devotional

In Disguise 

~~MTS-4306
In Disguise
“So the king of Israel disguised himself and went into battle.”
          2 Ch. 18:26
    All the evil things Ahab had done in his entire life would eventually have caught up with him in the end. Even though he thought he had all the bases covered in the battle, the arrow would find him just the same. He went to the war in disguise, yet the cover-up didn’t keep him from being discovered; and a stray arrow would ultimately find an opening between his breastplate.
    So much like the insurance that we purchase, isn’t it? Be they life or health insurance, we want to make sure that we have enough coverage so that we won’t be caught by surprise in case something happens. In fact, a personal financial adviser suggested that I buy a life insurance policy after he finished evaluating our family’s financial situation. I didn’t buy one from him, for it required a physical, but I nonetheless bought one by myself with a high monthly premium just for peace of mind, much to my wife’s displeasure, of course.
    Being a man of very little faith, I really needed some sort of assurance that my family would be taken care of if something were to happen to me. I guess life insurance was what I turned to. Well, it turned out to be quite unnecessary and a lot of money went down the toilet, as Kathy put it.
    Does the Lord help those who help themselves? I guess this is just one of those sayings that stresses the importance of human responsibility, even though it also takes God’s sovereignty into account. Or does this simply mean that God will only come to our aid if we are no longer able to help ourselves? If so, God is just a fire insurance policy that we don’t need and crutches that we never use. He is just there in case we run out of options.
    Does accepting the Lord as our Savior a “just in case” kind of thing, an insurance policy in case what Jesus said about the afterlife turns out to be true and hell is a reality, not an illusion? If this is truly the case with you, the insurance that you have purchased with the precious blood of Jesus may not cover you when it counts. The Lord did not die on the cross to buy us an insurance policy for heaven; he died so that our life can be renewed and be transformed, enabling us to live for Christ our entire life and be with him forever in heaven.
    What Ahab had been doing seemed to be working perfectly before, yet there came a point when human means of protection no longer worked, and he had to face death head on, void of any insurance either in this life or the life to come. He was completely vulnerable and exposed.
    Wasn’t Ahab all too human, like all of us who often find ourselves turning to the Lord for help after we have exhausted all human means to assist ourselves?    
     

 

Posted by Robert Sea Tuesday, December 20, 2016 7:48:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Imprisonment 

~~MTS-4305
Imprisonment
“Put this fellow in prison and give him nothing but bread and water until I return safely.”          2 Ch. 18:26
    Wasn’t the prophet flesh and blood just like all of us? Surely he was, therefore we can imagine what agony he was going through while he was struggling over what to say to the king.
    What were the ill-effects he would suffer if he told the truth? Surely he had thought about all of them, which must have caused him a good deal of anxiety. This was all too natural for him to do, wasn’t it?
    Had the prophet any loved ones? A mother or a wife? Children whom he loved and friends whom he treasured. Surely he did. We all do, don’t we?
    I tried to keep it a secret for the longest time after I decided to dedicate my life to Christ, and it made me wince at the thought of telling my parents the truth. What I was doing was an open secret at our house, but nobody dared to mention it to avoid conflicts, or possible unpleasantness.
    I wish I had had the courage to open up a can of worms and let the chips fall where they might. It never happened. I was a coward.
    Was Micaiah naturally braver than all his peers? Perhaps. Yet when his life was at stake, courage alone might not have been sufficient to carry the day; he needed to be empowered by the Spirit from above to do what he was called to do and to proclaim what was put in his mouth.
    “But when they hand you over, do not worry about how to respond or what to say. In that hour you will be given what to say.” Doesn’t this bring some comfort to us, the timid and the faint-hearted?
    I nevertheless greatly admire the prophet, hoping I can be more like him, and wishing I had done a lot of things differently, as far as bearing witness for Christ is concerned.
    The saddest thing is that I often envision my future by looking at my past, and my greatest fear is I will do exactly the same thing Peter did when he was in the courtyard of the high priest. When grave danger was looming, self-protection and preservation became his preoccupation. By denying Christ Jesus, Peter tore down what he had been building over the span of three years and lost the core essence of his being. 
    Of course, I deeply yearn to be more like Micaiah, yet there were also four hundred prophets who succumbed to the seduction of self-protection and cowardly compromise. Only one out of four hundred and one. I don’t like my odds.
    The only comfort that I have is the Lord’s assurance and only he can transform the humanly impossible into a divine possibility. Indeed, a coward like me may even turn into a martyr at the end.   
 
   

 

Posted by Robert Sea Monday, December 19, 2016 7:06:00 AM Categories: Devotional

A Deceiving Spirit 

~~MTS-4304
A Deceiving Spirit
“I will go and be a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all his prophets.”     
2 Ch. 18:21
    If the one who speak for the Lord are deceived, the deception will then spread to the congregation and, consequently, the lie will take root and turn into a common belief. Therefore, what we have always held true may not be entirely true after all, and they should also be subjected to careful scrutiny as well.
    Don’t we all have blind spots and we can only see in part and speak in part? What we need to do as we handle the word of the Lord is to look at the parts through the spectrum of the whole. We need to cultivate a bird-eye view so that we don’t miss the forest for the trees.
    Our danger in reading the Bible has always been the bad habit of seeing the whole through the parts and looking at the individual narrative or discourse in isolation, without taking the cohesion and unity of the entire scriptures into consideration.
    Have we read the entire Bible even once in our lifetime? If not, we will always commit the error of seeing only in part, missing what the Bible intends to teach. We can easily be deceived by the deceiving spirit if we merely choose to read the part that is more palatable and easy to digest.
    Being a preacher of the gospel, have I ever been deceived by a deceiving spirit, enticing me to preach only the doctrine of justification, neglecting to mention anything about sanctification?
    Do we compromise the gospel message for the sake of saving more people? If the message has been diluted and compromised, the ones who were saved under our teaching might not be genuinely saved, and it would take quite an effort to bring them back to the right path. No wonder the apostle Paul resolved not to preach the gospel in the areas where the good news had been proclaimed. It’s awfully hard to uproot the foundation after it has been laid.
    When we preach, we should do so with fear and trembling, lest we become deceivers, misleading people and causing them to have a false sense of security about their eternal destiny.
    May we never be deceived by deceiving, spirits whether we hear or speak the words of God. The only way to keep ourselves from falling into the trap is to examine the scriptures day and night by ourselves. Knowing the truth thoroughly does prevent us from being deceived by false doctrine.
  
  
  
   

 

Posted by Robert Sea Friday, December 16, 2016 6:34:00 AM Categories: Devotional

The Absolute 

~~MTS-4303
The Absolute
“As surely as the Lord lives, I can tell him only what my God says.”       
  2 Ch. 18:13
    All we know is spiritual lingo and we use it without thinking, for we do not know what to say to people when they suffer any kind of difficulty. “Well, God is good and he will surely see you through. I will be praying for you.” This is probably the best we can come up with. Is there anything wrong with this? Absolutely not. Does it help the one whom we try to bring consolation? Not necessarily.
    Job’s three friends seemed to say all the right things, yet what they had to say appeared to deepen Job’s sorrow. It would have been much better had they just sat with their friend and not utter anything. Attempting to make an apology for human suffering is a hit-and-miss kind of enterprise, and we seem to miss more than we hit.
    We need to remain silent in the face of human suffering unless we hear something from the Lord. What we need to do is to be united with the ill or the downcast and to suffer alongside them. Pain can be shared and suffering may also be felt, and by sharing the weight of sorrow may be reduced and its pain evenly redistributed.
    As surely as the Lord lives, I can tell him only what my God says.”
    O we are so eager to say something, thinking our words may actually make a difference in people’s lives. Truly God’s words will not return void.
    Listening is a form of speaking actually, and it takes more effort to listen than to speak. I have always found this to be true, for to speak is to assume control over people. We do have a sense of superiority when we stand behind a podium, don’t we?
    Wait and wait on the Lord some more.
    Micaiah probably had no idea what he was going to say to Ahab, so what he was going to do was to spent some time listening. He wasn’t going to be the one who would be doing the speaking; God would be the one to do the work.
    How much time do I actually spend meditating on the Scriptures and listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit before I stand behind the pulpit to speak to people every Sunday? Not as long as I should, that’s for sure.
    Not only do we need to say the right thing, we need to mean what we say, and our words will not become “incarnate” unless we take the time to listen, pray, and beat ourselves into utter submission.  We ourselves should become our message for it to become effective. We are indeed wine being poured out and bread being broken, and only through our brokenness can others be comforted.
  
   
 
 

 

Posted by Robert Sea Thursday, December 15, 2016 7:18:00 AM Categories: Devotional

To Compromise 

~~MTS-4302
To Compromise 
“Look, the other prophets without exception are predicting success for the king. Let your word agree with theirs, and speak favorably.”       2 Ch. 18:12
    Such was the temptation Micaiah was facing. The messenger who was sent by Ahab urged him to be more agreeable with all the other prophets by giving the king a favorable message. Humanly speaking, that probably would have been a much easier thing to do. Not many people would have chosen such a disagreeable position had they had any other option at all. We all desire to be liked, don’t we?
    We have been preaching the same gospel proclaimed by the majority of preachers and we hardly think there can be anything wrong with the message. Has the gospel message been compromised or been diluted in the process being delivered over the years? Has God’s grace been reduced to a size that fits all of us so no one will be excluded? Has the prosperity gospel become the main stream message and are we swallowed up by a whirlpool of seduction? 
    Four hundred prophets were giving the same message in unison; therefore it must have been right. Micaiah could have followed suit and that would have been the end of it. No questions asked.
    I might have been taking the proclamation of the gospel a little too lightly, not fully realizing that people’s eternal destiny hinges on it.
    I have often felt like apologizing when my message sounds a little too harsh and seems to be quite unsuitable to people’s appetite. Quite often it did feel like I was force-feeding the audience something whose taste they have yet to acquire. Something must be chewed on for a while to get the sweetness of it, yet people simply spit it out without giving it the slightest chance.   
    The medicine has been prescribed by the master Physician and my vocation is to dispense it accordingly. To sugarcoat or to dilute it to make it more user-friendly is an ultimate betrayal, which was something Micaiah would never have done. It’s also something I should never do.
    What the prophet had to do was to wait on the Lord and to be absolutely sure that he heard from the Lord. Micaiah had already received the message from above, and it would never be compromised.
    Perhaps a joke is scattered in the message here and there, or an illustration is added to the talk randomly, even though it’s not relevant, merely to give the message a bit more punch, make it slightly more colorful. I suppose this has always been my issue in preaching, which makes me blush at the thought. The temptation to please the crowd is still rather overwhelming even though I have been very resolute in delivering the pure gospel faithfully.     
 
   

 

Posted by Robert Sea Wednesday, December 14, 2016 7:37:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Telling the Truth 

~~MTS-4301
Telling the Truth
“…but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad.”         2 Ch. 18:7
    Micaiah always prophesied bad news concerning Ahab, for there simply wasn’t any good news to report. Of course, he could have made up some good news to tell, but he wouldn’t have been a true prophet of the Lord had he done that. He might have wished there was some good news to tell, yet there was none, to his dismay. How he wished to be a bearer of exciting news.
    Of course there were four hundred prophets who prophesied good news in union to whom Ahab was listening. The majority ruled and the king was more than happy to oblige. He might have been listening to the prophets, but deep inside he was actually listening to himself.
    So much like seeing, listening is always selective. Whatever we don’t want to see we merely look away from; and shut our ears to the message that we have no intention to receive. Therefore, we only hear ourselves talking and are blinded to sights and sounds that we consider irrelevant or not beneficial to us.
    Should the prophet have changed his message to suit the palette of his audience? Doing thus would have been a form of betrayal and deception, deceiving the Lord and himself. Yet there were four hundred people who did just that. How could they have been so wrong?
    Did those false prophets really know that they were false prophets who intentionally falsified God’s message and misrepresented the one whom they were supposedly representing? How could they keep on doing it if they had any inkling about what they actually were doing? It must have been rather laborious, impossible even, justifying what was essentially unjustifiable.
    I guess the sheer large number won the day, for those prophets were strengthened by the support of their peers, believing that four hundred people couldn’t have all been wrong. False ideas can easily be held true it they have been promulgated and advocated long enough.
    Is it even remotely possible that I have been delivering a false or less than truthful message to the congregation one Sunday after another? I often ask myself this probing question. Obviously I am convinced that the Bible is the inerrant, inspired word of God, yet my interpretations may not always be truthful, for they are contaminated by my half-baked worldly philosophy and my selfish ambition to please the audience and to make a name for myself.
    I might have become a false prophet without knowing it, which is entirely possible. Ahab could easily round up four hundred false prophets in Israel, yet there was only one Micaiah. Do I have the courage to stand alone and proclaim the truth as the faithful prophet once did before the mighty king?      
   

 

Posted by Robert Sea Tuesday, December 13, 2016 7:08:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Alliance 

~~MTS-4300
Alliance
“Now Jehoshaphat had great wealth and honor, and he allied himself with Ahab by marriage.”      2 Ch. 18:1
    It’s puzzling to me why King Jehoshaphat found it necessary to form an alliance with Ahab from the North, knowing that the king of Israel was ungodly and the entire country seemed to be practicing idolatry. The king of Judah should have stayed away from the North as much as possible, yet that wasn’t how politics worked, I suppose. In order to maintain a harmonious relationship with the neighboring nations, compromises might have become necessary and Jehoshaphat might have been forced into playing the political game, even going so far as to ally himself with Ahab by marriage.
    By this time Judah appeared to be rather self-sufficient and many nations were paying tribute to her; therefore it might not have been necessary for Jehoshaphat to form any alliance with anyone to enhance the viability and prosperity of his country. Yet being a strong leader of a nation, the king was constantly on the lookout for possible danger and was rather aggressive in looking for ways to create a safer and more prosperous land for his people.
    Isn’t this the nature and art of governing a nation? Jehoshaphat was a good king by all accounts, but he was by no means flawless in both his dealings with human and divine. He was blind-sided this time and suffered the ill-consequences as a result. When the king made a reckless decision, the ones who suffered the most were the common people, the ones who were called to bear arms and were coerced to march toward the jaws of death.
    No matter what kind of war people fight, whether with justifiable or unjustifiable causes, it doesn’t change the fact that many people perish because of it, and victory sounds rather hollow for the ones who have lost their lives fighting the battle. Throughout human history political unions were often formed before wars broke out. This has always been the case, hasn’t it?
    We know for sure the unholy alliance between Jehoshaphat and Ahab wasn’t going to end right, and this turned out to be the case.
    As a king over Judah, Jehoshaphat appeared to be doing everything right in so many aspects yet, unfortunately, he was by no means omniscient and an entire nation suffered greatly for the blunder he made.
    It’s quite a humbling experience, really, when I survey the lives of these kings, for I wouldn’t have done any better than they, had I been put in their positions. They might have intended to do their best in honoring the Lord and governing the people, yet very few of them emerged unscathed at the end. They might have worn a sparkling crown, but they all had feet of clay. 
  
        

 

Posted by Robert Sea Monday, December 12, 2016 7:30:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Teaching 

~~MTS-4299
Teaching
“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.”      2 Ch. 17:9
    The Book of the Law was taken to the people all over Judah and Israelites all over the nation were educated. King Jehoshaphat knew that before a nationwide revival was to occur, the word of the Lord must first be taught. Knowledge always precedes action and people must know the truth before they can act on it.
    We are bound by false knowledge, but the truth always set us free. Knowing the truth is liberating and euphoric.
    Since I am always preoccupied by my health condition, I will just use personal health as an example. As far as our health is concerned, knowing the truth is always far better than not knowing, since by gaining true knowledge through examination we may know for sure there are one or two ailments we must deal with; yet by not knowing we may be dealing with thousands of phantom diseases lurking in the dark.
    I suppose that was what the Lord Jesus meant when he uttered: “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
    There must have been reasons behind people turning to the Baals for consultation and consolation. It was simple enough, really. Because they truly believed that Baal was a true deity and was able to rescue them from any kind of trouble. They merely acted on such a belief, even though it was entirely unfounded and ungrounded. 
    There were reasons why superstition became a firm belief in people’s mind. People are first misled, and after a lie is repeated and taught a thousand times, it somehow becomes rather valid and trust-worthy. It’s awfully hard to trace myth back to history, particularly if it has never take place.
    There are a couple of churches in the village not many miles from where my parents lived, yet the gospel somehow never did reach our neighborhood, so our ancestors continued to worship idols as if they were true deities. The village people had never been taught the truth, therefore falsehood prevailed. It is just that simple.
    Being a godly man, King Jehoshaphat knew exactly what the problem was that people were facing and figured out a way to resolve the issue. He started out by sending teachers of the law to them and, consequently, falsehood was quickly dispelled when the truth was being taught.
    I suppose when issues occur to us, they all start from the head and work their way down. Indeed, “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”
  
  
 

 

Posted by Robert Sea Friday, December 9, 2016 6:57:00 AM Categories: Devotional

The Baals 

~~MTS-4298
The Baals
“He did not consult the Baals but sought the God of his father and followed his commands rather than the practices of Israel.”        2 Ch. 17:3, 4
    Who did Jehoshaphat turn to for consultation after he became the king over Judah? One of the options was to turn to the Baals for help, which seemed to be the popular thing to do at the time. For sure there were quite a few people among the Israelites who did so, and the temptation of doing the same thing might have been rather great. Yet the king was determined not to do the evil that was so offensive to God.
    This was what the Israelites from the north were practicing and the custom might have found its way into Judah as well. Being the king over this nation, Jehoshaphat came to realize that he must be the one to keep the vile practice at bay and lead the people toward the right path, which was the worship of the Lord.
    The king decided to seek the Lord and follow the Lord’s commands “rather than the practices of Israel.”
    Such is the decision that every one of us must be making as well. We may not be tempted to practice idolatry in the traditional sense, yet we may still do the abominable unaware. We may not encounter Baals in wood carvings or stone, yet they are incarnate in various images in our midst. Whatever we lift up as someone or something divinely attractive and ultimately desirable are Baals in human form. Indeed, greed is akin to idolatry, as the apostle Paul rendered it, from which very few of us are immune. Many of us are idolaters who bow submissively down before the idol of the almighty dollar, aren’t we?
    To whom the king turned for consultation when he assumed the kingship did make a great difference in his career. There were two options from which he had to choose, either the Baals or the Lord, and his choice would tip the balance of history and he would be judged accordingly.
    “He did not consult the Baals but sought the God of his father and followed his commands rather than the practices of Israel.” May this be our constant reminder as we mingle with people in the marketplace:  that we will always choose to follow the Lord and keep ourselves away from the practice of the idolatry so prevalent in our age.
    Indeed, “you cannot serve both God and money.” Isn’t money Baal incarnate?

 

Posted by Robert Sea Thursday, December 8, 2016 7:34:00 AM Categories: Devotional
Page 1 of 2 1 2 > >>
  • RSS

Statistics

  • Entries (1483)
  • Comments (0)

Categories

Archives