The Field 

~~MTS-3720
The Field
“Pick him up and throw him on the field that belonged to Naboth the Jezreelite.”       2 Kings 9:24

It was that field that Ahab, Joram’s father, coveted and had to murder the owner in order to get it. The irony was: the field became the place where Ahab’s son was discarded and disposed. What did the plot of land do for the previous king? It might have satisfied his vanity and eased his hunger for power and control a little, but it didn’t do the trick of bringing the king lasting peace and joy. In fact, the land became one of the main reasons Ahab’s household was cursed in the following generations.
Surely Ahab didn’t do his children any favors by murdering Naboth in order to possess the field. The land he intended to use for planting his vegetable garden turned into a dumping ground for his son’s body.
Ahab didn’t seem to pay much attention to the legacy he was leaving behind. Besides, he couldn’t afford to be so concerned about his offspring since he had so many. What occupied his thoughts most was his present, not his future. He wanted Naboth’s vineyard at the time, which was something he managed to get through murdering someone.
We all have made some mistakes raising our young and would do a lot of things differently were we given a second chance. In fact, we may trace many of our children’s flaws in character or actions back to something we did when they were small, and some may be more connected than others. Yet, we did have the best intentions for our children, even though mistakes were committed and missteps might have been taken in the process of raising them.
The case with Ahab was quite different, who might not have had his descendants in mind when he was making all his decisions. He was a ruthless and self-centered man who lacked the backbone to stand up for his future generation. What he did wasn’t an oversight at all, for he didn’t cast his eyes at days to come, or at what his evil actions would mean to his children.
“The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge.” This seems to be the case with Ahab’s family. Not long after Jehu’s arrow found Joram’s heart and his body was thrown on Naboth’s field, Ahab’s seventy sons’ heads were chopped off and were displayed outside city gate. How unfortunate it was to be born into the household of a tyrant!
Be it directly or indirectly, what we do as parents does have a certain impact on our children, and who and what we are as people may cast a lengthening shadow and continue to haunt our offspring long after we are no more. May our lives be a blessing, not a curse, to our children!        

 

Posted by Robert Sea Wednesday, April 30, 2014 6:43:00 AM Categories: Devotional

The End 

~~MTS-3719
The End
“The arrow pierced his heart and he slumped down in his chariot.”
             2 Kings 9:24

This marked the end of Joram, king of Israel, who died a violent death at the hand of Jehu. An arrow shot by Jehu pierced the king’s heart, which ended Ahab’s son’s reign over Israel, along with all his aspirations and dreams. Just moments before this occurred, he was recovering from his wounds and might have been formulating another campaign against the Arameans who had previously defeated him, yet death rendered all he was doing or thinking about doing meaningless.
All it took was an arrow and nothing more. There was only one king in Israel, yet there were thousands of Israelites who aspired to be a king, and all it took was one man who had the resolve to turn his vision into reality, for the one who was sitting on the throne must fall for someone else to rise. Jehu was such a man who had the gusto to put his aspiration into action and assume the sovereign position.
In the meantime, the supreme Ruler of the universe was watching, and was both amused and amazed by all the events slowly unfolding, astounded by the extent of human sin. He might have even had second thoughts about his creation.
The Lord knew what would eventually transpire when the Israelites were asking for a king to rule over them, and told his people in no uncertain terms what all the kings would do to them. Things will always go wrong for us if we elevate people above God or put ourselves on the throne to rule over our own lives.
Is the Lord first in your life? This is a vital question that we ourselves must address.
Joram absolutely had no idea that a deadly arrow was flying his way. In fact, he might have thought things were looking brighter, for his wound was healing rather well and he was surrounded by the ones who were loyal to him. Pretty soon he would be marching back to Samaria and putting his kingdom back in order. Besides, his union with the Southern kingdom of Israel was getting stronger and together they might be able to do some great things.
The king could calculate and formulate his future all he wanted, but no plan is perfect unless God is in the center of the plan. A whistling arrow suddenly brought all things to deadly silence.
When to retire has become an issue for us, yet an arrow is flying around in the air and it may find its way to our hearts any time, so it seems presumptuous for us to plan anything beyond tomorrow. May we honor the Lord by asking him daily to sit on the throne of our hearts and to rule over our lives. Only then may we rest secure in the midst of flying slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. 
      
        

 

   

Posted by Robert Sea Tuesday, April 29, 2014 6:42:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Peace Unattainable 

~~MTS-3718
Peace Unattainable
“How can there be peace,” Jehu replied, “as long as all the idolatry and witchcraft of your mother Jezebel abound?”       2 Kings 9:22

Jehu’s conspiracy to take over the throne probably wasn’t motivated by his zeal for the Lord; it was more likely that his vaunting ambition caused him to chase after the position. He was more a peace-breaker than a peace-maker. Yet the man was accurate when he uttered peace would have been unattainable as long as there were idolatry and witchcraft in Israel. What the Israelites worshipped pretty much determined whether they would have inner and outer peace or not.
How do people lose their inner peace? By worshipping wrong gods and pursuing wrong things, or by worshipping the true God with wrong motivations and seeking for right things with bad intentions.
Idolatry is only a temporal fix and never a permanent solution. People turn to idols for help when problems arise and forsake their gods when their predicaments are resolved. There is no such a thing as building a personal relationship between the worshipped and the worshippers; it’s pretty much a transaction of sorts which generates only turmoil and discord in people’s hearts.
Nothing robs us of our tranquility faster than our passionate pursuit of earthly fame and fortune. We are vexed by anxiety over not reaching our goals or failing to meet people’s expectations for us. God-pleasers will always have peace in their hearts, but serenity of mind for people-pleasers is as elusive as floating vapor in the air. Peace will abound if we put God first in all we do, but it becomes unattainable if we seek the opposite.
Jehu’s inner peace was based on his attaining his goal of taking over the throne; anything less than that just wouldn’t do. By the same token, Joram’s ease of mind was built on his retaining the kingship and defeating all his enemies. Fighting for peace is a misnomer since both were pursuing the very thing that made peace impossible to attain.
We can get a hold of peace not by fighting, but by giving in. How can we have peace by fighting against God incessantly? The ones who remain alive after a war are the cowards who surrender to their adversaries, yet the brave who are lauded and glorified by all are mostly dead.
There is no shame in surrendering to God, is there?
Why should I be so anxious about my job performance or the attaining of my goal at work if what I am doing is God’s work unto his glory? Why do I lose sleep over the church not growing both in quantity and quality if I am merely God’s co-worker and he is the One who does all the heavy-lifting.
Having a strong sense of self-importance and keen self-awareness is the main culprit that robs us of our inner peace and joy.     
    

Posted by Robert Sea Friday, April 25, 2014 7:22:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Peace Lost 

~~MTS-3717
Peace Lost
“What do you have to do with peace?”
         2 Kings 9:18

As Jehu was approaching Ramoth Gilead where Joram the king of Israel and his men were briefly stationed while the king recuperated from his wound, Joram sent some horsemen to find out whether Jehu was coming in peace, and Jehu the conspirator said to the messengers of the king: “What do you have to do with peace?” 
Peace wasn’t what Jehu had in mind at the time; he was in fact seeking the king’s head. With the strong support he had garnered from the other commanders, Jehu was fully confident that he would succeed, and he even managed to convince the king’s horsemen to follow him instead. Joram had just lost the battle against the Arameans and didn’t stand a chance against Jehu, who was determined to take him down. The tide had turned and Joram and his friend Ahaziah, king of Judah, were soon to be swallowed up and swept away.
Surely peace was not what Joram and Ahaziah were seeking either, for they formed a union to fight against the Arameans.  Had they emerged victorious, peace was still unattainable, for their enemies would certainly redouble their forces and fight back, and the warfare would continue endlessly.
Who was truly searching peace at the time? Who were the ones who did have something to do with peace?
Surely the ones who sat on the thrones or the generals who held military power didn’t desire peace as much as the soldiers, who were longing for the war to end so that they could go home to their families and farms. They had been indoctrinated and brain-washed about how evil their enemies were and how their loved ones would be enslaved and tortured if they lost the war, yet all the speeches sounded rather hollow in the face of death, and they just wanted to flee when the trumpet was sounded and swords were drawn. 
O how many kings and generals throughout the ages have started war after war in the name of peace, and they became the only ones who lived to see peace, if it was attained at all. There is more bloodshed driven by the ambitions of the few than the desire for peace of the many. Unfortunately, the ones who truly have a genuine desire for peace are usually the ones who are herded to the front lines to die for peace.
Jehu was starting another round of bloodshed and for him to speak about peace was laughable. Someone had knocked down the first domino and the rippling effect would continue, until the day when the Prince of Peace severed once and for all the chain of hatred and wars.         

Posted by Robert Sea Thursday, April 24, 2014 6:10:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Revenge 

~~ MTS-3716
Revenge
“…and I will avenge the blood of my servants the prophets and the blood of all the LORD’s servants shed by Jezebel.”         2 Kings 9:7

Jehu was a ruthless and ambitious man who was used to being an instrument by which the Lord exacted his vengeance against the household of Ahab. King Ahab might have thought he was home free when he departed from the world, believing all would be well with his children and his entire household, but the Lord certainly had a different idea. What Ahab and Jezebel, his notorious wife, did to all the prophets of the Lord and Naboth's household have been left unpunished.
Ahab, being the king of Israel, was endowed with absolute power and he was able to do whatever he deemed appropriate to all his subjects, caring very little that the Lord would hold him accountable for all he had done. Little did he know the seriousness of shedding God’s servants’ blood and the severe punishment it would bring upon himself and his children. The man seemed to have treated his wife with more esteem than the Lord, and the consequences of all his actions were disastrous, far worse than what the man could have imagined.
“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows,” Paul wrote in his letter to the Galatians, warning them that the Lord was a consuming fire and they should approach the Lord with extreme reverence and care.
Do we sometimes mock the Lord by doing something displeasing in his sight? Do we often mock the Lord by sinning against him? In fact, all sinful acts that we have ever committed were mockeries to the Lord, for we wrongly believed that a holy God wouldn’t be bothered by our unholy acts. Perhaps that was what Ahab was thinking as well. “What does the Lord care about his prophets anyway?” he sneered.
All our sins are covered by the blood of the Lamb, but the ill-effects of our sinful deeds remain, and they may continue to haunt us and our children for many years to come. It’s absolutely true that we have been justified by faith and the Lord has declared us to be righteous and blameless before him, yet we may still suffer the effects of sins that we have committed in our flesh as long as we live, for what’s done in the flesh will always come back to the flesh.
Our being saved by faith through Jesus does not do away with the principle of sowing and reaping, and we will suffer in the flesh if we sin in the flesh. It’s safe to say that most of our sufferings in the flesh are related to our sins one way or another. We all know the awful outcome of drunkenness and gluttony seems to have become one of the main causes of many chronic illnesses, and there is no debate over what an addiction to pornography can do to pollute young people’s minds and ruin happy marriages.      

Posted by Robert Sea Wednesday, April 23, 2014 6:46:00 AM Categories: Devotional

One Year 

~~MTS-3715
One Year
“ Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem one year.”         2 Kings 8:26

One year wasn’t long enough to establish a long-lasting legacy or build an illustrious career, but it did give the king an opportunity to do some good to the nation had he intended to do so. The length of one’s career does not always equal the accomplishments that one can achieve in whatever endeavor. Ahaziah was endowed with great authority as a king, and he could have done great things even if he was sitting on the throne for only one day.
What was the king’s legacy, then? He formed a union with Ahab’s family since he was related to them, and fought a losing battle against the Armenians and, before he realized it, his life was ended. The king seemed to have wasted his life doing superfluous things. The man was a failure both spiritually and militarily. He could have used his year as a king more
wisely.
How could Ahaziah have known that he only had one year on the throne? He was relatively young and might have considered he had an ample amount of time to do what he intended to do. Would he have done things differently had he known all he had at his disposal was a mere year?
He was probably consumed by the idea of expansion of territory for his nation and the excitement of engaging in a war. People don’t usually think about their legacy when they are young and the last thing they want to think about is their departure from the world. Therefore King Ahaziah chose to do what excited him the most and what produced the best outcome in the shortest amount of time. Nothing could bring the king worldly fame and fortune faster than winning a war.
So a short year was wasted in fighting a meaningless war and shedding human blood and, at the end, the king’s earthly days was ended abruptly.
A Korean high school student texted his mother from a sinking ferry, realizing his life was ending quickly and he did by instinct what he considered the most important thing, which was to express his deep love for his mother. I guess it would have been far better had he not waited until the last moment in his life to do the most important thing in life. We should lead each day as if it were our last day on earth and do things accordingly.
It makes no difference whether we are given a year sitting on the throne or a day working on a regular job; what we must do is put out our best effort in whatever we do to leave a lasting legacy and bring blessings to those around us. Most of us will never be conquerors of nations or achievers of great renown, yet we can all become a blessing to one or two people by being what we were create to be, and the world will become a better place because of our brief presence, even though it will hardly pay attention to our absence.   

      

Posted by Robert Sea Tuesday, April 22, 2014 6:48:00 AM Categories: Devotional

For the Sake 

~~MTS-3714
For the Sake
“Nevertheless, for the sake of his servant David, the LORD was not willing to destroy Judah.”        2 Kings 8:19

“What had the man done to deserve such a great honor?” we question. For his sake the Lord was going to withhold his justice for a while and let Judah continued to survive as a nation. God was intending to destroy the Israelites, yet for David’s sake he decided to show mercy for a season.
David was a better person than most people by all accounts, but he wasn’t without fault by any means. We come to realize that the man after God’s own heart was mere flesh and blood by a few things he did, which proved he wasn’t a saint.
How great was the man that caused the Lord to change his mind and suspend his judgment against his people?
I suppose it wasn’t so much of what David did; it was rather what God had promised to his servant that came into the equation. Indeed, “He had promised to maintain a lamp for David and his descendants forever.” In this case, God simply could not break his promise to David.
The promise was broken ultimately, wasn’t it? Judah was finally destroyed by the Babylonians years later.
God’s promises to us does work both ways. Divine promises are always contingent on us holding up our end of the bargain and, if we fail to do our part in fulfilling the contractual stipulations, God is free not to abide by his promises.
God is also free to suspend his justice by giving us one opportunity after another to prove that we can obey his commands. In fact, we would be doomed if we all got what we deserved.
We can learn from this man after God’s own heart, however, what we can do to cause the Lord to put his divine judgment on hold for a season and to give our loved ones more time on earth before the ax falls. Surely I will put out my best effort in loving and serving the Lord if he perchance will show more mercy and kindness to my children for my sake. This idea is obviously preposterous and theologically unsound, yet it seems quite plausible humanly speaking. God owes us nothing, yet I nonetheless make my greatest effort to make him owe me something, so that my children will benefit from my godliness.
Human speculation aside, I will continue to emulate David by being a man after God’s own heart, even though being something is by no means through doing it. It has been years since I started to pray that I would love the Lord more, and I like to believe that Lord has granted me my daily petition. The more I love the Lord through my thoughts and actions, the more I will become a man after God’s own heart, for love is what connects us with the Lord.           

Posted by Robert Sea Friday, April 18, 2014 7:51:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Marriage 

~~MTS-3713
Marriage
“He followed the ways of the kings of Israel, as the house of Ahab had done, for he married a daughter of Ahab.”        2 Kings 8:18

Jehoram’s life seemed to have been defined by the woman whom he married. He followed the ways of Ahab, for he married the notorious king’s daughter. The marriage might have been more political than anything; the king’s life nonetheless was impacted by his wife. The man couldn’t have helped it, could he?
It all started out as a mere marriage and it went a lot farther beyond that. There is more in marriage than meets the eye, really. Jehoram might have had every intention to honor the Lord in everything he did as a king, but there was a strong force pulling him toward the opposite direction. Ahab’s daughter was there by the king’s side, making sure that the king of Judah did things her way.
Ahab’s daughter had learned her lessons well from her parents through observation, she had a clear idea how a king should conduct himself, and she might have become the main force behind the throne.
Had Jehoram married a godly woman, his legacy as a king would have turned out quite differently than what it did. 
We may consider marriage quite a personal thing since it’s an affair between a man and a woman, and as long as the parties involved are fine with the whole thing, outsiders should keep their opinion to themselves. I think this is quite a modern idea and it doesn’t seem to be working very well. Marriage as an institution appears to be breaking up at a very rapid pace, and what’s to blame for its failure is we try to keep it strictly personal.
Marriage is a communal thing, and it should involve all members of both families - the bride and the groom, and most importantly, it should involve the Lord.
Apart from my in-laws blessings, my romance with my future wife wouldn’t have worked. Even though it took a little longer, we also procured the blessings from my family as well. Kathy’s father, with his wife and sister in tow, flew over the Pacific to perform the wedding for us, and with the blessings of our families and friends, the marriage started out on solid footing. The marriage might have started with two, but it extended to both families, and to an entire community. That is precisely the reason why it was such a thrilling experience for Kathy and me to travel to Austin to ask a family for the hand of a pretty young lady for my youngest son.
Were there eligible ladies for Jehoram in Judah? Indeed there were many, yet the king was eager to make a connection with Ahab’s family. The marriage might have started as political, but it extended much farther, for a political union could easily turn into a personal one as well. We lose control over ourselves when our lives become intertwined with others in such an intimate way.     

Posted by Robert Sea Thursday, April 17, 2014 6:57:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Ambition 

~~MTS-3712
Ambition
“But the next day he took a thick cloth, soaked it in water and spread it over the king’s face, so that he died.”          2 Kings 8:15

Hazael didn’t think too much of himself, really; at least when he was talking to the prophet. “How could your servant, a mere dog, accomplish such a feat?” he replied when Elisha told him the atrocities he would commit against Israel when he became king of Aram.
He was just pretending to be so. A man who considered himself to be a mere dog wouldn’t suddenly become ambitious and murder the king. He had long aspired to be a king and was waiting for an opportunity to take down the king of Aram and usurp his throne.
Elisha’s prophecy concerning Hazael didn’t cause the man to take such a ruthless action; he had intended to act for the longest time. Macbeth in Shakespeare’s tragedy didn’t suddenly become ambitious after he heard the witch’s foretelling that he would become the king of Scotland. Surely a truly ambitious man needs no prompting or provocation from the outside, for the fire has been simmering and it will ignite at the right time.
Hazael wasn’t just a man with an ambition; he was an ambitious man. A man with an ambition can be reformed, but an ambitious man is irredeemable. He might have been emboldened by the prophet’s words, and he took action when the king was celebrating his recovery from illness. The man took over the throne right away, for he had been building an intricate network within the court for a while and was able to assume the kingship without any opposition. Hazael’s plot had been on the drawing board for a long time.
Hazael must have spent a lot of time earning the king’s trust, and he had been waiting for a perfect opportunity to carry out his plot. It was quite a risky business he was conducting, for his margin of error was very slim and a small misstep in the process could only mean his own death. It’s amazing that the man was willing to risk his life in order to lift himself up above all others. The appetite of ambition is indeed insatiable, and it will never be satisfied until it’s fully fed.
The power Hazael was passionately pursuing would ultimately become the man’s snare as well, since his burning desire didn’t end at the throne of Aram at all. He continued to expand the territory of his nation as his ambition was expanding, and thousands of people died in the process. Nothing has caused more destruction in human history than men’s insatiable ambition to conquer and to control, and the greater their might is, the bigger damage they will inflict on common people. This explains why Elisha wept when he envisioned what Hazael would do to the Israelites.      

Posted by Robert Sea Wednesday, April 16, 2014 6:35:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Foreseeing 

~~MTS-3711
Foreseeing
“He stared at him with a fixed gaze until Hazael was embarrassed. Then the man of God began to weep.”           2 Kings 8:11

Elisha foresaw what Hazael would do to the Israelites after he took the throne away from Ben-Hadad and he started to weep. He knew what was going to happen to his countrymen and was unable to do anything about it. Such was the dilemma the prophet was facing. Had he had the power to keep Hazael from assassinating Ben-Hadad, he would have done it, but whatever was pre-ordained to occur by the sovereign God would come to pass, and no one made of flesh and blood could alter it.
Not knowing the outcome of something is what motivates us to do the best we possibly can to generate the most desirable result. Had we known that we would fail in certain endeavors in which we were engaged, we would have given up before we started. Had I had any idea I would fail my college entrance examination, I wouldn’t have studied day and night for it. Had we known the relationship we treasured and cultivated so hard for so long would end in failure, we would have dealt with it quite differently.
King Solomon seems to be telling us not to take life so seriously in Ecclesiastes, since all our efforts in life end in vanity. If all things end in nothing, what’s the use of doing anything about it? Sounds pretty logical, doesn’t it?
Work as hard as if all things depend on our effort; yet trust with all our hearts that nothing will come about apart from God’s blessing and ordination. Shouldn’t we lead our lives as if we would last forever, yet take our every day as if it were the last day we have on earth?
Whatever I do with my time matters a great deal, even though, in the scheme of things, it may turn out to be nothing. Why write all these books since no one will read them years hence and all the visible things will be scorched in the end? I question. Why spend day and night praying, knowing that our prayers may not make any difference in God’s decision-making process?
That’s when faith and sight come into play.
Did knowledge of what would occur to the Israelites in the near future keep Elisha from pleading to God for grace and mercy? It shouldn’t have. It should have caused the prophet to pray even harder for his people; perchance the Lord would relent and pour out mercy upon his people.
Does God change his mind concerning the things he is going to do? Surely, God is free to change his mind if he so chooses; therefore our prayers do stand a chance, don’t they? Elisha might have known something about the future of Israel, yet he only knew it vaguely, and something could still be done to make a difference. How different was it going to be? It’s the Lord who makes the final call, yet we trust he will take all our efforts into consideration in all his decision-making.                
 
   

Posted by Robert Sea Tuesday, April 15, 2014 6:52:00 AM Categories: Devotional
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