Three Months 

~~MTS-4468
Three Months
“Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months and ten days. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord”   2 Ch. 36:9
    One couldn’t have done a lot within a period of three months and ten days, could he? Jehoiachin was merely eighteen years old when he assumed the kingship, and we have no clue to what he did during his reign that earned him the reputation: “He did evil in the eyes of the Lord.”
    Perhaps it was not because of what he did that he was thus defined; it was really what he was as a person. He might not have had time to implement what he intended to do, yet it didn’t change the fact that he was an evil king.
    Three months and ten days, however, actually was long enough for Jehoiachin to do something sinister that would forever define him as a king. Obviously he must have had a certain approach toward his kingship and, whether he had the time to execute his plans or not, the fact would remain the same. He was on his way to becoming an ungodly king no matter how long his reign was going to be.
    Is a period of three months long enough to make a difference in one’s life? For sure it is. The one who was crucified beside the Lord Jesus only needed one day to change the course of his eternal destiny. Well, he only needed a brief moment of the day to make a vast difference in his life.
    As a matter of fact, the king must have done enough evil to earn him his reputation at the end. He might have encouraged people to practice idolatry or ushered into his country another foreign god, enticing people to bow down before him. How much time would it have taken to do all these things?
    Indeed, whether we are young or old, we still have an ample amount of time to make a meaningful change in our lives. Surely three months and ten days is an eternity if we make an absolute determination to alter our life’s direction and start heading toward a heavenly direction.   
   The prodigal came to his senses when he was just feeding the pigs, and it didn’t take long for repentance to take place. When his mind was renewed and the course of his life shifted, the remainder of his life would merely follow suit accordingly, whether it be long or short. Essentially, our lives are not depicted merely by length of time; they are rather defined by significant events. Things that touch the core of our being are what create eternal differences. 

 

Posted by Robert Sea Tuesday, March 27, 2018 8:15:00 AM Categories: Devotional

The End 

~~MTS-4467
The End
“Josiah, however, would not turn away from him, but disguised himself to engage him in battle.”               2 Ch. 35:22
    King Josiah was doing rather splendidly in every way before this event transpired. He almost always tried to do the right things when he found out what the right things were. His fear of the Lord couldn’t have been questioned and his walk with God was impeccable. Now this question surfaces: Why did he even go to battle with Necho king of Egypt, and end up losing his life at the Egyptian’s hand?
    Did the king have anything else to prove at his old age? Obviously there must have been reasons behind what Josiah did, and whether they were justifiable or not isn’t for me to ponder. That was just what happened, which marked the end of the illustrious career of a remarkable king.
   According to the Biblical narrative it does sound like the battle with Necho was rather unnecessary, and Josiah could have laid low and done nothing to interfere with what the Egyptians were going to do.
    “Josiah, however, would not turn away from him, but disguised himself to engage him in battle.”
    It was a mistake, judging by what transpired at the end. The king was wounded, and later died in Jerusalem. The elderly king was brave enough to march against the enemy, yet he did so in disguise, which was probably a self-protecting mechanism. Perhaps he was eager to experience the adventure of war, yet had no intention to risk his own life to do so.
    This is merely my musing over the event, and there must be other plausible explanations, justifications even, done by Biblical scholars over the ages, had I done some reading about this. Yet it seems more reasonable to me to look at the incident from a human point of view.
    His life was drawing to an end and the king might have become slightly restless and was looking for an occasion to test his manhood, something that would defy his age and would again prove his worth as a man and a king over a nation.
    Perhaps we can still do a lot of things in our old age when we develop a sense of urgency, yet some of the things we choose to do may be utterly unessential and they are better left undone, or done by someone else. Retirement might have been the best thing for Josiah to do at the time. It was indeed a shame for a godly king to die a horrific death in battle, when he could have rocked himself to eternal sleep on his throne.  

 

Posted by Robert Sea Monday, March 26, 2018 8:32:00 AM Categories: Devotional

The Passover 

~~MTS-4466
The Passover Celebration
“The Passover lambs were slaughtered, and the priests splashed against the altar the blood handed to them, while the Levites skinned the animals.”     2 Ch. 35:11
    There were only a few days of the year that I was rather eager for them to arrive in my childhood days. What were they? Those were the days when we celebrated the birthdays of the village gods, who were mostly historical figures from the distant past.
    I had no particular affection for those idols carved of stone or wood; the reason why I was so fond of the occasion was really the delicious food we got to enjoy during that day. Of course the meal was offered to the gods first, yet it remained untouched after it were supposedly consumed by the spirits. The banquet was actually prepared for humans, not for the divine.
    Such was the essence of our worship in the village, really. The gods had been created for our sake, fulfilling a certain need we had, and after sticks of incense were burned and lip service had been paid to them, we were the ones who had the privilege to feast on the delicacies.
    The gods must have known their place and had learned not to interfere with people’s daily lives. They basically remained behind the scenes until they were called upon on particular occasions.
    “The Passover lambs were slaughtered, and the priests splashed against the altar the blood handed to them, while the Levites skinned the animals.” What sort of feeling and emotion does this simple narrative evoke in your mind? Did the people who were busily involved in the preparation of the Passover celebration ever entertain the thought that they were doing something with far-reaching spiritual significance?
    Did they slaughter all the Passover lambs merely for their meat, and was the splashing of the blood merely for show? Was what they were eagerly waiting for the opportunity to sink their teeth into the meat and the fat?
    Celebrations are reminders of things of the past and precursors of things to come. They serve no purpose unless they make a difference in the way we remember the past and anticipate the future. Celebrations are the occasions when we hearken back to our historical past and are reminded who we truly are, and what we will eventually become as a people of God.
    As we look back at the far distant past, we can envision Passover lambs being slaughtered so that thousands of Israelites’ lives were spared. If we continue to trace back the thread of time we can also witness the Lamb of God who was slaughtered, and by his death on the cross and the blood he shed our lives are redeemed.
    Isn’t this the real purpose of the Passover celebration, or any other celebration?   
 

 

Posted by Robert Sea Friday, March 23, 2018 8:09:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Celebration 

~~MTS 4465
Celebration
“Josiah celebrated the Passover to the Lord in Jerusalem, and the Passover lamb was slaughtered on the fourteenth day of the first month.”          2 Ch. 35:1
    The celebration of Passover had been forgotten for generations until King Josiah decided to reinstall the practice. The king spearheaded a revival in Judah and celebrating the Passover was a vital part of the restoration of the old religion. The people of God might have forgotten what it was like to diligently keep the law of God in their daily walk, yet the joy of celebrating the Passover might have been engraved in their memory. By observing the special holiday, God’s people might have developed a deep feeling of nostalgia in their hearts for the things of the past when their relationship with the Lord had been intimate and sweet.
    What do atheists do to celebrate the holidays of Christmas and Easter? I often wonder. For the first twenty years of my life, these red-letter days had absolutely no meaning for me and they evoked no special emotion within my hearts, for I didn’t grow up celebrating the birth and resurrection of Christ. So those special days came along year after year, yet they were ordinary days to me, and I had no earthly idea how much I was missing by not celebrating the occasions.
    Things suddenly changed the day my wife and I went to town to shop for our first Christmas tree as a couple. I hardly knew how to proceed to make the day unique, such as decorating the tree and gift-giving, and I merely did what my wife told me to do, yet these things seemed to be so natural and matter-of-fact, as if I had been doing them my entire life. That was the way things were supposed to be, I guess.
Now I can hardly imagine what it’s like not to celebrate Christmas and Easter.
    So it must have been just as spontaneous and natural for the Israelites to celebrate the Passover after all the rituals were restored, such as slaughtering of the lamb and all the others they performed during the festival, and the people might have wondered why on earth they had neglected the Passover celebration for such a long time. 
    By celebrating a special occasion we evoke all the joyful memories connected to the day so that our past and present may be unified as one, for we have evolved as persons from what the Lord has done in our past.
    By not celebrating the Passover, Israel as a nation would have lost her soul as a people, for it was by that special holiday and how it transpired during that time that the Israelites are defined.
  
  
 

 

Posted by Robert Sea Thursday, March 22, 2018 7:20:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Responsiveness 

~~MTS-4463
Responsiveness
“Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before God when you heard what he spoke against this place and its people…”    2 Ch. 34:27
    It’s such a great blessing when our hearts can still be moved and touched by the Spirit of God. We can easily become cold and indifferent when we hear the words of God proclaimed, thinking that they have nothing to do with us.
    Such wasn’t the case with King Josiah when he heard the Book of the Law read to him. Even though it was primarily addressing the rebellion of the previous generations against the law, the king took the matter personally and he didn’t consider himself exempt when God’s people as a whole were condemned by the Book of the Law.
    It’s just so easy to go through the motions when we sit in the pews listening to God’s Word proclaimed Sunday after Sunday. We seem to regularly go to God’s house to worship without expecting anything meaningful to occur, and corporate worship is perceived more as an obligation than anything else.
    Listening to the Word of God proclaimed, either through reading or listening, must always be intentional, purpose-driven even. We open up the Scriptures not merely to read, but with an intention to listen when we read, and by humbly listening our reading will bring forth definite action.
    Are we ready to respond when the Lord speaks through the Scriptures?
    I have been preaching at the same church for the last twenty-four years, yet the words don’t seem to have any impact on some of the church members. Why? By being unresponsive to God’s word, the more people listen to the word preached, the harder and colder their hearts may become. What makes God’s words come to life is through our responsiveness and obedience to them.
    In fact, failure to respond to God’s words positively is an indication of disbelief. We may indeed claim to believe a lot of things, yet we may resolve to do what comes most naturally during the time when we are challenged physically and emotionally, and we become all too human to act more spiritually.
    What Josiah did when he heard the Law proclaimed to him should serve as a great example for us. He responded to God’s words humbly and took it personally and he ended up doing something to rectify the situation.

 

Posted by Robert Sea Thursday, February 15, 2018 6:32:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Other Gods 

~~MTS-4462
Other Gods
“Because they have forsaken me and burned incense to other gods and aroused my anger by all that their hands have made…”     2 Ch. 34:24
    We may be leading our lives in such a way as if the Lord doesn’t really exist; or even if he does exist, he isn’t really sovereign and is in control of all things.
    We are not really consistent in our faith and practice. The chasm between the two appears to be rather wide, wider than we can ever imagine.
    Aren’t we often anxious about different things? Of course, being anxious or worried about things is an indication of lack of faith in God, believing that his power is insufficient and things concerning me are out of his control. Even worse, we may even think he has bad intentions for us, since he is all powerful, yet he simply refuses to act on our behalf.
    We may claim to believe the Lord is both powerful and good, yet our actions seem to say the opposite. By our conduct we seem to believe that he is neither, and our actions do speak louder than words.
    Indeed, we don’t actually burn incense to other gods, but we oftentimes act like atheists who don’t believe in the existence of a loving God; therefore we are inclined to take things into our own hands when the situation becomes dicey, trusting men more than God.
    How do we mend the gap of our inconsistency between faith and practice? This is the question, isn’t it?
    To be born again is to be renewed in all aspects of our being, yet the renewal appears to have occurred in the spiritual realm and seems to have very little impact on our minds. Therefore our new birth doesn’t seem to engender a new way of thinking. Surely, what I am is what I think, so we may be remaining who we have always been emotionally and intellectually, albeit we have been regenerated spiritually.
    There is no other way, really. The key to resolving this issue is to reprogram our thinking patterns by conforming to the word of God. We have been lagging behind in reading the Scriptures and acting on the truth contained within them. Consequently, the chasm between our faith and practice has become wider and wider. It may even get to point when we seriously doubt the validity of our faith.
    This appears to me, a rather serious issue, and if nothing is done over time, we will become no different from unbelievers.   

 

Posted by Robert Sea Tuesday, February 13, 2018 6:35:00 AM Categories: Devotional

God's Law 

~~MTS-4461
God’s Law
“When the king heard the words of the Law, he tore his robes.”     2 Ch. 34:19
    Surely it wasn’t an ordinary book the king had obtained; what he heard were the words of the Law proclaimed to him.
    Surely he must have heard the Book of the Law mentioned to him, yet it created very little impression on him, for he had no idea what the content of the book was, and how he was supposed to view the book.
    If the book was the words of God, it was merely one of the books composed by men the kings of Israel had collected over the years. There wasn’t any reason to pay special attention to it.
    I have a small collection of books and they have been placed in my bookcase, collecting the dust of West Texas. Many of them I have read, but a lot of them I haven’t, yet they are all solemnly standing on the shelf, waiting to be inspected.
    Does it matter whether I read any of them? Not all that much. My knowledge about certain areas may increase a little by reading those books, yet it matters little in the larger scheme of things.
    “Words, words,” says Hamlet, when asked what he was reading.
    How can I bring all the words I have read over the years to a coherent and unifying whole? Can I ever reconcile all the differences among them and establish a consistent idea void of contradiction?
   “It’s better to read no book if we believe in all books,” goes a Chinese saying. “A little knowledge is a very dangerous thing,” said Pope. By the same token, much knowledge can also be a grave danger, unless the knowledge acquired is truthful and without human error, for knowledge can both lead and mislead.
    I don’t put my Bible on the bookcase as if it were merely one of the many other books. It holds a special place in my heart as well as on my bookshelf. In fact, I often put it on my nightstand next to my bed, easily accessible when I need it.
    “When the king heard the words of the Law, he tore his robes,” we read.
    That was the moment when the king suddenly came to realize what he was hearing was not the words of mere humans; they were the very words of the living God. Tearing his robes was an expression of Josiah’s deep remorse and repentance. Perhaps we have to do the same thing as the king if we have been taking the Law of the Lord too lightly.
    
 
 
 

 

Posted by Robert Sea Monday, February 12, 2018 6:46:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Gatekeepers 

~~MTS-4460
Gatekeepers
“Some of the Levites were secretaries, scribes and gatekeepers.”    2 Ch. 34:13
    Which of these three types of jobs would I have preferred to do had I been a Levite? I sometimes wonder.
    The first two jobs probably were more respectful than the third, since they all dealt with words, and it would have required more training to do the work well. On the other hand, being gatekeepers of God’s temple appears to be rather easy, for all they needed to do was merely stand there. No skill or special training was ever needed.
    Truly, that was the job that I wouldn’t have chosen.
    That was the job I had to do when I was in the service, and the mere mention of it brings back all sorts of bad memories. Every shift that we had to do lasted for two hours within a twenty-four-hour cycle. Obviously, the worst shifts were the times between midnight to day break.
    I had to do the same thing while I was working at the National Palace Museum when I had to be a gatekeeper part of the time, collecting tickets from visitors. The job itself wasn’t all the glamorous and the monotony of it was sometimes unbearable.
    Was being a gatekeeper in God’s temple any different than the chores I had to do as a young man?
    “I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of wickedness,” Psalm 84 says.
    In this world we seem to be classified and identified by our professions, the jobs we do to make a living, and we are ranked either high or low by how much we earn at each job. Indeed, our value system is basically determined by how valuable and prestigious our jobs are.
    Come to think of it, being a doorkeeper in God’s house may not be all that undesirable after all, for the job itself seems to provide an ample amount of time to meditate on God’s words and to pray, which are the things that I have enjoyed doing the most.
    King David might sometimes have looked at his younger days as a shepherd in retrospect with great nostalgia and longing, for they were the days when he had all the leisure in the world to meditate on God’s grace and to compose psalms praising the Almighty.
    To be completely candid, I would have had great difficulty choosing among the three jobs had I been in the position to choose. I might have chosen being a gatekeeper in God’s house after all.     
 
 
 
  
 
 
 

 

Posted by Robert Sea Friday, February 9, 2018 8:35:00 AM Categories: Devotional

The Levites 

~~MTS-4459
The Levites
“The Levites—all who were skilled in playing musical instruments— had charge of the laborers and supervised all the workers from job to job.”   2 Ch. 34:12
    The Levites appeared to be multitasking at this time since it wasn’t their expertise to supervise all the workers doing various the jobs of repairing the holy temple. Most of the Levites appeared to be musicians who “were skilled in playing musical instruments.”
    It doesn’t mean that the Levites weren’t able to do other chores besides praising and serving the Lord with their musical skill. Besides being equipped with the particular spiritual gift of playing music, I am sure they also possessed other gifts of service as well. Playing musical instruments and supervising repairing workers certainly weren’t maturely exclusive.
    No job of serving the Lord in his kingdom is either above or below us. We should always be equal to the task when we are called upon to do certain work for the Lord.
    Being the pastor of a single staff church, I have been doing a lot of other things besides preaching on Sunday services. In fact, I seem to have been doing janitorial work more than anything else over the years, and I am usually the first one to arrive at the church and the last one to leave. Obviously, this is not a complaint; it’s rather a privilege if anything at all. I have never considered any job that I do routinely to be below me.
   All things are worth doing if they are done unto the Lord, and nothing is worth our effort if it is done merely to make money or to earn people’s applause. There should be an eternal value attached to whatever we do, and all things we are conducting on earth are a form of storing up treasure in heaven.
    Either positive or negative, all our words or actions have certain applications and, oftentimes, the applications they generate determine the meaning and intent of our actions. So “I don’t mean that at all” may not be a good apology.
    The Levites could have complained about what they had to do, for they must have preferred to do what they felt the most comfortable and enjoyable, which was to play music and worship the Lord. This is obviously a misconception, for what they were doing was an important form of worship. In fact, what they were assigned to do, manual labor included, was just as sacred as singing praises to God in his holy temple.
  

 

Posted by Robert Sea Friday, January 26, 2018 7:16:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Faithfulness 

~~MTS-4458
Faithfulness
“The workers labored faithfully.”          2 Ch. 34:2
    At the tender age of fourteen, I worked as a hire hand on a chicken farm owned by a local banker. All I remember about him was he was a chubby middle-aged man who rode a motorcycle when he came to supervise our work. My primary jobs were mixing chicken feed, feeding chickens, and collecting and packing eggs early in the morning and hauling them to town a few miles away on a large tricycle. Riding and controlling the tricycle was far more difficult than it looked for a weak fourteen-year-old and it took me quite a while to master the skill. Being a farmer’s son who was required to work on the farm during school breaks, it didn’t bother me to do most of the work there, yet there was one thing that was rather unpleasant to do, which was to dry chicken droppings under the scorching sun by constantly turning them with a shovel, and then bagging them when they were completely dried up. The droppings smelled pretty badly when they were still wet and it was hard to turn them, for they were still rather muddy.
    It was something that the workers at the farm were required to do, and I had no other option if I intended to remain employed. Chores of that sort might have been foul, but were necessary.
    Therefore, I continued to do the unpleasant job for about half a year, not out of my choice, but out of necessity. I remained faithful in performing the task not because I wanted to be faithful to anyone in particular, but remaining faithful is rather easy for anyone if their livelihood is on the line. Being a child laborer, I didn’t earn all that much at all, yet my young body was beefed up considerably after months of eating all the broken eggs on the farm. I guess the Lord might have had that in mind when he led me to the chicken farm to work. I was very well fed at the least while I was working over there.
    “The workers labored faithfully.” The people who did the repairing at the holy temple didn’t merely work to make a living; they knew they were involved in an eternal enterprise, which was to beautify God’s dwelling place on earth, and by working on the project they brought glory to God.
    Instead of looking at the immediate effect of our labor in this world, we should consider the eternal impact that we may generate by doing what we do. A physician, for instance, by bringing people back to sound health, enables them to keep on working to support their loved ones, and they may also direct their gratitude to God. Therefore, by their faithfulness in doing their job God’s name may be honored and lifted up either directly or indirectly.
    The things great or small that we do routinely may be far more impactful than we will ever realize and we ought to conduct them as such.
  
    
  
            
 

 

Posted by Robert Sea Tuesday, January 23, 2018 7:30:00 AM Categories: Devotional
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