2 Chronicles 17:1-18:34; Romans 9:25-10:13;
Psalm 20:1-9; Proverbs 20:2-3
It is easier to to pull down than to build up.
- wipe crumbs off of the table
- reply to an email
- water a plant
- empty the trash can
- google a piece of information
- toss the junk mail
- write a thank you note
- pray for a person
Jehoshaphat is the son of good King Asa. The Bible tells us that as Jehoshaphat comes into power, there is conflict with the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Jehoshaphat spends time building up Judah to stand against an attack from Israel. He stations troops in fortified cities and assigns additional garrisons to protect towns that his father had conquered. Jehoshaphat is singled out in Scripture for not following the images of Baal, but instead, seeking God and obeying His commandments. He committs his ways to the Lord and sends out officials in the land to teach people about the Lord. These officials take copies of the Book of the Law and travel around the various town teaching truth. They are essentially traveling evangelists on tour.
The results of Jehoshaphat's efforts to build up his kingdom in truth and security is that the fear of the Lord falls over all of the surrounding kingdoms and none of them declared war on Judah's land. The Philistines even bring gifts and tributes to him, as did the Arabs. With this situation accomplished, Jehoshaphat continues in being wise in his use of time. He builds more fortresses, stores up sufficient supplies, and stations his army to protect the people.
Any time a person builds up in their lives, there are usually things that need to be torn down. In the case of Jehoshaphat, he committed his ways to the Lord and that caused him to start a campaign of tearing down the idols in Judah. We are told that he knocked down pagan shrines and destroyed the Asherah poles. Tearing down things that are destructive is a cleansing process. Jehoshaphat was a good man, who spent his time cleansing his kingdom of idolatry.
Jehoshaphat used his minutes to build up his people in the Lord and tear down idols that drew people away from the Lord. How are you and I spending our minutes? We may not run a kingdom, but we may run a household. How are you building up those around you? Do you encourage people to know God? Do your words build people up? We see that Jehoshaphat built his kingdom up physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually.
How can you build up others in these categories? Jehoshaphat also tore down things that would hurt his community. It takes bravery, courage, and conviction to get rid of unhealthy things in our lives. What do you need to tear down and get rid of in your life? Do you have the conviction and courage to do it?
Spend your minutes on earth wisely. Sometimes that will mean building up and sometimes that will mean tearing down.
The Apostle Paul had no trouble using his minutes wisely. Paul was a prime example of using teaching of God's Word to build up those around him. He also had the courage to tear down false teaching about God.
Today, we get some of the greatest explanations about how God's story is meant to unfold until the return of Christ on earth.
Today, Paul is going to explain to his Jewish audience and his newly believing Gentile audience how the Gentiles factor into a story that was dominated by the Jews throughout history. In our readings, we have seen that the Bible in Genesis takes a decidely bias turn and focuses on the descendants of Shem. Remember that Shem is one of Noah's sons who survived the Flood. Shem is the forefather of Abraham. Abraham is the forefather of Jacob/Israel. Through Israel, we get King David. And from David, we get Jesus Christ. The reason the Bible focuses on the Jews is because the Bible is the story of how the world receives the Messiah, who will redeem the world from sin. Jesus is God and the Bible is about God.
Okay. Since the focus of religious truth has been on the Jews for centuries, it is a difficult task to begin to help the Jews understand that their role in the story is changing. Where God primarily focused on the preservation of the Jewish nation and used them as a living picture of many spiritual truths, in addition to bringing the world the Savior, He is now opening the floodgates of access to God to all the tribes of the earth. The twelve tribes of Israel will be the foundation on which every tribe on earth will stand before God.
Paul uses the Holy Text given to us by the Jews to prove this point. In Hosea 2:23 and 1:10 it says,
"Those who were not my people, I will now call my people. And I will love those whom I did not love."And,
"Once they were told, 'You are not my people.' But now he will say, 'You are children of the Living God.'"And so we see that the Gentiles are included in God's family. How does this happen? By simple faith in Christ. This would have been a hard concept for the Jews to accept.
Now, here is how Paul tears down the false idea that all Jews are God's children by their blood line to Abraham. He uses the book of Isaiah to convince them of a hard truth. Isaiah 10:22-23 and 1:9 says,
"Though the people of Israel are as numerous as the sand on the seashore, only a small number will be saved. For the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth quickly and with finality."And,
"If the Lord Almighty had not spared a few of us, we would have been wiped out as completely as Sodom and Gomorrah."Here, the Apostle Paul is telling the Jewish nation that only a small number of them will come to be children of God through the belief in Jesus. This is to say that the majority of Jewish people will not accept this teaching, but a strong and effective minority of them will believe in their Messiah. Does it surprise you that this is God's plan?
Paul points out from Isaiah 8:14, that Jesus will be a stone in Jerusalem that will cause the Jews to stumble. The verse also reminds the Jews that anyone who believes in him (Jesus) will not be disappointed (Is. 28:16).
Paul teaches that the Jews worked very hard to get right with God by following the Law, but they never succeeded. But, getting right with God is much easier than they ever thought possible. It is within easy reach because salvation comes from trusting in Christ. This is in your heart and on your lips.
Next, Paul gives you and me the key to how to know you are saved. Here it is:
"If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved." ~Romans 10:9-10Paul adds a wonderful kicker when he reminds us from Scripture, "Anyone who believes in Him will not be disappointed."
This, my friends, is how you build up and tear down to God's glory.
Have you ever told anyone this simple, plain good news? Getting right with God is as simple as belief in your heart and confession from your mouth.
Notice how in Verse 7 David boasts not in armies, but in the Lord.
Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor. Nice.
What did you learn today?