Defilement 

~~
MTS-4392

Defilement

“Consecrate yourselves now and consecrate the temple of the Lord, the God of your ancestors. Remove all defilement from the sanctuary.”          2 Ch. 29:5

    This was what Hezekiah told the Levites as they were getting themselves ready to serve the Lord in the holy temple. First they must consecrate themselves and then do the same to the temple by removing “all the defilement from the sanctuary.” Evidently, there were defilements of all kinds still remaining on holy ground and, unless they were removed, the Lord would not find it suitable to again place his holy name there. Holiness, both in the exterior and interior part of the sanctuary, was something the Lord was looking for and, more importantly, he was seeking for holiness among his people as well. “Without holiness no one will see the Lord,” we read in the book of Hebrews.

    The sanctuary was defiled by the previous generation and there were still physical vestiges of it remaining on the site, reminding of what it had been in the past. Unless these were utterly destroyed, they would forever remain articles of temptation for the ones who frequented the holy ground. They must be completely uprooted to avoid becoming roots of other evils.

    Indeed, the ones who have a drinking issue may have to avoid the sight of liquor within their house and, by the same token, it may be wise for the addicts to pornography to block all the seductive websites.

    There was no guarantee for anything, really, and even if they did all they possibly could to clean up the holy temple, defilement would continue to happen and things would naturally deteriorate until they were properly and consistently maintained. The king was merely attempting to give the worship of the Lord a new start, which was absolutely essential at the time.

    Revival of all sorts, either at a group or individual level, is never a onetime thing; it must be continual, and it cannot be sustained unless it’s diligently maintained. Removal of all defilements in our life gives new life a good start, but they must be constantly removed to give our budding spiritual life a fighting chance to survive.

    Therefore, let’s make the removal of filthy elements that seek to defile our spiritual life a daily occurrence. Confucius might have been a staunch humanist and self-proclaimed agnostic, yet he still made it a daily habit to examine himself three times. “I examine myself three times a day,” he said. Shouldn’t we do the same thing daily so that we will be free from being defiled by the filth that we seem to accumulate by coming in contact with the ungodly world and pagans who clutch their gods, wallowing in the filthy pond of their sins?

 

Posted by Robert Sea Tuesday, July 18, 2017 7:45:00 AM Categories: Devotional

The First Thing 

~~MTS-4391
The First Thing
“In the first month of the first year of his reign, he opened the doors of the temple of the Lord and repaired them.”             2 Ch. 29:3
    King Hezekiah might have been waiting for a long time for the day when he finally got to assume the kingship, and when the day finally arrived, it still didn’t seem all that real to him. The young man was finally placed in a position where he could fulfill his aspirations and dreams for himself and his country. It might have taken a while for him to determine what to do first when he took over the throne, yet it became a no-brainer after the decision was made: he decided to put the Lord first by restoring the temple worship which had been long neglected and discarded.
    Indeed, King Solomon had built the holy temple after he assumed the kingship, yet he also started an even bigger and grander construction project, which was to erect a palace for Pharaoh’s daughter, which was for him as well. Even though he was taking care of God’s business, David son’s was nonetheless conducting his own affairs at the same time. Being a king offered him a privilege and it was all too natural for him to harvest the benefits of the position at the earliest possible time, such as gathering beautiful women for himself, starting a war of two, or launching a big building project.
    As far as we can tell, Hezekiah didn’t any of those things. He was rather single-minded in what he planned on doing, which was to bring the hearts of the Israelites back to the Lord.
    So, no sooner did he have the royal crown placed on his head, than he started to do what he considered the uttermost important on his to-do list as a king. “In the first month of the first year of his reign, he opened the doors of the temple of the Lord and repaired them.”  Thus started Hezekiah’s splendid reign over the nation of Judah. The king indeed had his priorities straight and was determined to bring true spirituality back to the life of the entire Southern Kingdom.
    Hezekiah was a breath of fresh air among many of the kings, both from the North and the South, who had been self-centered and concerned only about their personal interests. Unfortunately, most of them didn’t end well. Surely, no matter what people do in life, this principle seems to be proven true both in time past and time present: “Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained.”
    May we always keep this in our minds.       

 

Posted by Robert Sea Monday, July 10, 2017 8:30:00 AM Categories: Devotional

The Father 

~~MTS-4390
The Father
“He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father David had done.”  2 Ch. 29:2
    I am my father’s son and, even though for the most part he was a decent man who loved his children, he didn’t leave a godly legacy behind for his children to emulate. He wasn’t particularly interested in practicing idolatry, he nonetheless followed the family tradition as far as his worship was concerned and did what was required of him to do as the head of the family. Even if I try to trace our family history back many generations, I seriously doubt I would locate a godly Christian in the lengthy line of our family’s genealogy. Surely there is no “father David” in our family.
    Obviously Hezekiah didn’t find in his father any godly character to follow at all, for King Ahaz was a wicked man who did all he possibly could to remove the pure worship of the Lord from the nation of Judah and replace it with perverted foreign religion. The son had to go elsewhere to search for a role model to imitate if he desired to have one. King David was only several generations removed from his time, and his godly example was probably still lucid in his children’s memory. Where else could Hezekiah turn to find devout ancestors but his forefather David?
    Hezekiah became David’s true son by emulating his ways of relating to the Lord. Ahaz was the instrument which the Lord employed to bring his son Hezekiah into the world, yet there were essentially no similarities between them spiritually. It wasn’t an absolute necessity for him to grow up like his father; Hezekiah had in fact a choice to make - whether to follow his father’s ways or to seek examples elsewhere.
    Do I desire my children to grow up like their father? Not exactly so. I doubt that I have done all I possibly could to show them the path of righteousness while they were under my roof, and the time has long gone and the precious opportunity forever missed. They must carve their own way and make the God of their father their own and “personalize” their relationship with the Lord.
   Who was my father David on my spiritual journey if there was one at all? Had there been a David figure in my life, my spiritual life would have been vastly different than what it is today. I pray it will turn out differently for my children and my children’s children.
    Come to think of it, my late father-in-law might have been such a person for me and my children. I pray my wife’s father will someday become the David of our family to whom my children will turn when they search for a godly example to emulate on their spiritual journey.

 

Posted by Robert Sea Friday, July 7, 2017 8:02:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Years 

~~MTS-4389
Years
“Hezekiah was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years.”           2 Ch. 29:1
    I found myself calculating how many years king Hezekiah had in total when I came across this simple statement. It was as if it was merely mentioned in passing and no further comment was made. There was no need to add anything to it, I suppose. Fifty-four years surely was long enough for someone to make a career out of it and, furthermore, the time was more than sufficient for someone to establish a firm and harmonious relationship with his or her Maker.
    The essence of our life should be cemented and defined by how we relate to the Lord, not the length of it.
    I could have squandered my entire life had the Lord not found and saved me at the age of twenty-three. It was as if I was yet to start to live before the monumental event took place. How could I truly live if I was dead in my trespasses and sin? Had I lived entirely for my own sake, whatever I had done with my life would have perished with me, leaving absolutely no trace in this world.
    What makes time meaningful is eternality and, apart from it, time is nothing but mere vanity. Whatever is done for the sake of self, gratifying the desire of the self, will surely vanish with the demise of the self. Doesn’t this sound logical to you?
    Alexander the Great indeed had a rather impressive career, for he built a great empire across three continents, unparalleled in the then-known world, yet after he passed away at age thirty-three, his vast kingdom was divided by his generals and what was left behind was a tragic chronicle of conquest and blood-shed. Did the man truly live at all during his short life-span of thirty-three years? The man couldn’t have lived, for the sole purpose of his life was to take life away. Death and life are a contraction in terms, and we are either in the process of living or dying, and there is no somewhere in-between.
    “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full,” the Lord Jesus declared.
    The way the Lord Jesus perceived time was quite different from how we view it and he appeared to measure it by quality, not by quantity. Compared to many others of his generation, his earthly days were very short, yet the life that the Lord Jesus generated during his age and the ages to come has multiplied. Even in the present age, his life-creation force is still in operation, and will continue until the end of the age.

 

Posted by Robert Sea Thursday, July 6, 2017 7:55:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Shutting the Door 

~~MTS-4388
Shutting the Door
“He shut the door of the Lord’s temple and set up altars at every street corner in Jerusalem.”              2 Ch. 29:24
    Surely Ahaz was making it rather convenient for people to practice their religion. All they needed to do was to walk to the street corner to pay homage to whatever deity they desired to worship. By erecting all those altars everywhere, Ahaz made their religion quite user-friendly. The gate of the holy temple had been shut and the avenues that led to all sorts of gods were wide open. Surely it was the time when all the gods, foreign and domestic, were free to vie for people’s attention in the marketplace of religion.
    The Lord Jesus uttered many sayings, yet this particular statement appears to be the most difficult for people to swallow: “I am the truth the way and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Why is this saying so offensive to the non-believing world? The reason is quite simple, really. We have been programed to consider reality mostly in relative terms, and automatically reject any truth claim if it’s presented as something absolute. Jesus’ statement is of course way off board and far too absolute and straightforward for men’s collective eclectic taste. Such a view is obviously too user-unfriendly to be embraced by so-called open-minded people, the intelligentsia of the postmodern world.
    Isn’t religion a trial and error kind of thing for the most part? We are just far too pragmatic to continue to embrace something that doesn’t seem to work or contradicts with reality as we perceive it. 
    It doesn’t seem to bother us all that much if the deity whom we worship turns out to be bogus, for we can always turn to the next in line and we will eventually get it right. Isn’t it a wise thing not to put all our eggs into one basket? Indeed, we all need a plan B to fall back on if something doesn’t work.
    We are all doomed if Jesus turns out to be right in his claim. Surely, he is the one and only and all the rest are imposters.
    I suppose that’s where our faith in Jesus comes in and such faith will be tested by our daily walk with the Lord and constantly affirmed by the Holy Spirit within our hearts. It has gotten to the point where there is no return and we simply continue to follow the Way for, besides Christianity, there is no other religion in the entire world that appears to be more plausible and satisfying, both intellectually and emotionally.
    “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life,” Peter exclaimed.

 

Posted by Robert Sea Wednesday, July 5, 2017 7:59:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Downfall 

~~MTS-4386
Downfall
“But they were his downfall and the downfall of all Israel.”     2 Ch. 28:23
    King Ahaz’s downfall was no longer personal at this time, for he was dragging the entire nation with him. The decisions he had made both politically and religiously would resonate far and wide throughout the nation and everyone in the land of Judah would be impacted.
    We would probably do things rather differently if we took the time to consider how our decisions great or small would affect our friends and neighbors, particularly our loved ones.
    Surely no man is an island and not a single action that we have ever taken remains isolated; it will surely create one reaction or another, either positive or negative, some anticipated, and other completely unexpected.
    There was quite a bit of old paint left in the shed and I was about to dump all of the cans into the dumpster, yet my wife had another idea. She’s never the one to take an easy way out concerning environmental issues. The things which I have often considered “out of sight, out of mind” she seems to have always deemed otherwise. I may be able to get rid of my problem by discarding the paint in the dumpster, but it can easily become a big problem for my children and grandchildren. Whatever I do with my garbage now does have impact on people in the distant future. If this is really so, shouldn’t I be more cautious where I place my trash?
    I crumbled a small piece of paper in the Home Depot parking lot and was about to throw it away then a thought surfaced: “The paper will not vanish mysteriously. Someone will have to pick it up.” A sense of shame came upon me and I put the crumbed paper into my pocket. Indeed, taking care of one’s own garbage is never a small thing, isn’t it?
    How could Ahaz lose sight of who he was and underestimate the impact he would create by all the decisions he made: whether to wage a war or not, or which god to worship. Had his decisions been merely personal and his downfall remained so, being reckless in his actions might have been less damaging to all, but unfortunately it wasn’t so at all. The king suffered for all his ill-advised actions, and the entire nation suffered along with him.
    All our actions, either good or bad, all have a rippling effect, and the impact they create will never be fully known until the day we stand before the throne, being judged by the Omniscient. This is indeed a frightening thought, for I seem to have been rather careless with all my deeds and thoughts, thinking and hoping they would forever remain personal, which isn’t really so at all.

 

Posted by Robert Sea Friday, June 16, 2017 8:26:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Reasoning 

~~MTS-4385
Reasoning
“Since the gods of the kings of Aram have helped them, I will sacrifice to them so they will help me.”           2 Ch. 28:23
    About ten miles from our college by the coastal highway there stood a small temple dedicated to the worship of a dog, which was called “the shrine of a faithful dog.” I have never done any research behind the erection of the shrine and how the dog earned such great esteem from people. I suppose the dog might have done something in its life worthy of great respect and people went to the great extent of building a shrine in its honor. It mattered very little what the dog had done to deserve such honor, really; the fact remained that people considered it so highly that the dog was deified.
    As time went by, for reasons unknown to me, the shrine became a popular place of worship, particularly for women of ill-repute, prostitutes and such. How did this come about? It is all too irrational to be comprehended by sound minds. How in the world could a dead dog, deified nonetheless, bless human beings who are alive and walk about? Idolatry indeed is rather an unreasonable thing, and idolaters seem to have lost their capability of thinking as far as their religions are concerned.
    What the king of Judah did thousands of years ago didn’t seem to be all that different from what Chinese people are doing today on the island of Taiwan. Ahaz evidently made at least two mistakes in his reasoning concerning his worship: First, he believed the Aramean’s’ triumph in the battleground was caused by the help of their gods and, secondly, he appeared to believe that the Aramean gods could be bribed by his sacrifices to do what he intended them to do. It doesn’t take a lot of thinking to realize both ideas are erroneous, merely wishful thinking for the most part. Undoubtedly, it becomes clear by examining Ahaz’ s mindset that one can easily come to the conclusion that idols are created in the image of men to be enslaved and exploited by men.
    “Since the gods of the kings of Aram have helped them, I will sacrifice to them so they will help me.” This is the logic of most idol worshippers from east or west, ancient and modern, with very few exceptions. Idols are indeed vanities, entities that don’t exist and the practices of idolatry are actually hijacked by Satan, who is rather pleased to receive people’s adoration and praise. 

 

Posted by Robert Sea Wednesday, June 7, 2017 8:07:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Faith 

~~MTS-4384
Faith
“In his time of trouble King Ahaz became even more unfaithful to the Lord.”   2 Ch. 28:22
    When his country was in trouble, king Ahaz of Judah seemed to turn every which way for help except to the Lord. He searched up and down both at home and abroad, human and divine, for resolution for his dire predicament, yet things appeared to get even worse. What went wrong?
    There was an important spiritual lesson to be learned for the king under such circumstances, and the best thing to do at the time was to remain still and wait on the Lord. What the king did during this time of personal and national crisis probably was no different from what we would have done if we found ourselves in such a difficult situation. Ahaz first sought help from humans, and when all else failed, he turned to the divine.
    Yet for some unknown reason, he was rather reluctant to turn to the Lord for help in time of need. As a matter of fact, “King Ahaz became even more unfaithful to the Lord.” I think it was likely that he no longer believed the Lord could do anything for him since the Almighty seemingly had failed to respond to his prayer so many times. Do we cease to pray to the Lord for help after we have experienced some rejections from him? Worse, we might even have concluded that he either doesn’t care or doesn’t even exist since there was nothing but silence coming from the other end.
    Ever so gradually, we may become indifferent as far as seeking the Lord is concerned, and entirely uninterested in the mysterious ways he conducts his business in the universe. We have, consciously or unconsciously, decided to turn to other sources for help. That was exactly what transpired with king Ahaz in the end after he had done his trial-and-error experiment with the Lord. It just didn’t work, he concluded.
    How is our faith in the Lord supposed to work?
    Does our faith in God need to be productive to be effective? Do we give it up totally if it does not produce the desired effects? This is the question we must ask, for it’s a given that we will find our faith “ineffective” one way or another in our journey of following the Lord.
    The effectiveness of our faith should never be measured by its tangible productivity; it must be weighed on the balance of truth, for whatever is truthful will always be fruitful. Faith remains and will always be a way of seeing, not a means to bring forth an end.

 

Posted by Robert Sea Monday, June 5, 2017 7:18:00 AM Categories: Devotional

No Help 

~~MTS-4383
No Help
“Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria came to him, but he gave him trouble instead of help.”            2 Ch. 28:20
    Ahaz might have had high expectation for the king of Assyria, since Tiglath-Pileser was supposed to come to help him while Judah was under the ruthless assaults of the Edomites and Philistines. Ahaz emptied out the royal treasury and articles from the holy temple and offered them to the foreign king as tribute, yet the end result was far from what he had expected. The Assyrians offered him no help at all, and Ahaz’s calculation during the time of national crisis was all for naught. It didn’t work and he had to start from square one.
    International politics was the same as it had always been and remains the same up to this century. It has always been power-based and national strength speaks louder than all other factors. Loyalty and faithfulness don’t really exist in the wheeling and dealing among nations. King Ahaz was way too naïve to believe the Assyrians would come to his aid.
    The king of Judah probably had no place to turn for assistance at this point and it was a rather desperate move when he turned in the direction of the Assyrians. Tiglath-Pileser could have turned into the archenemy of Judah the next day if the situation changed, yet Ahaz considered it a sound policy to unite Judah with a foreign country.
    Ultimately, all help we can possibly enlist in time of trouble will fail and what then can we do?
    How can we blame Ahaz for what he did during a time of utter desperation? Doing nothing wasn’t really an option and waiting on the Lord in time of danger was more of a copout than anything else. His mind had never been seasoned to trust the Lord in time of peace, and it became an impossible task in moments of danger. He merely did what he was informed by impulse, which turned out to be a big mistake.
    “Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria came to him, but he gave him trouble instead of help.”
    No matter how ingenuous and resourceful we may be, we will eventually get to a point in life when there is nothing left to do except trust the Lord. Yet such trust will not always be at our disposal unless we have nurtured it our entire life. It’s just not as simple as we have often been led to believe. Trusting the Lord must be built from the ground up and it takes years of cultivation and seasoning before it’s ready to be harvested.  

 

Posted by Robert Sea Thursday, June 1, 2017 8:05:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Unfaithfulness 

~~MTS-4382
Unfaithfulness
“The Lord had humbled Judah because of Ahaz king of Israel, for he had promoted wickedness in Judah and had been most unfaithful to the Lord.”        2 Ch. 28:19
    It wasn’t through my own doing that I turned out to be what I am, for it wasn’t by own choosing that I was born into the family where I was raised. In fact, I would have become an entirely different person had my mother succumbed to my grandparents’ demand and given me away for adoption. I seem to have a bad habit of attempting to establish a close link between my present and my past and finding out the cause and effect between the two. By doing so, I may be able to find a reasonable apology for all my character flaws and all the missteps of my actions. There must be reasons behind who and what I am, and I should not be morally responsible for all my morel failures, I think.
    Surely I don’t intend to be dragged for yet another time into the sticky issue of God’s sovereignty and human responsibility. I have dealt with this issue numerous times and it has never been clarified. I seem to have resolved, partially at least, to let the mysterious remain unresolved.
    This much is clear, however, that Ahaz’s unfaithfulness did adversely affect the people in Judah and they suffered merely because the king failed to obey God’s command. “The Lord had humbled Judah because of Ahaz king of Israel, for he had promoted wickedness in Judah and had been most unfaithful to the Lord.” There seems to be a clear correlation between the king’s unfaithfulness to the Lord and the afflictions the people suffered.
    “How did you deal with so much suffering in your life?” I asked Johnny, the handy man who has been doing work for us off and on for many years. “Well, I just do what I can control,” he replied. Unlike me, he isn’t one who constantly tries to attribute all his ills to other people or to trace his sufferings back to unknown causes. Perhaps it takes so much effort to survive that he simply doesn’t have the luxury to concern himself with the rest. Suffering becomes less daunting when one becomes better acquainted with it, I guess. To Johnny, it’s more a way of life than anothing else, and he isn’t caught by surprise.
    I have never blamed my parents for who I am and what I have turned out to be, for they themselves were also victimized by their upbringing as well. If there is anything at all, a generational curse might have been the real cause of all our ills and, come to think of it, the curse can be traced back to Adam’s fall. Yet we do have cause to praise, for the curse was severed on Calvary’s hill and it was nailed on the cross.
    In view of the cross, the mystery of suffering is resolved.

 

Posted by Robert Sea Wednesday, May 31, 2017 7:26:00 AM Categories: Devotional
Page 9 of 145 << < 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 40 70 110 140 > >>
  • RSS

Statistics

  • Entries (1455)
  • Comments (0)

Categories

Archives