Wednesday, July 27, 2011

July 27- Nobody Said It Was Gonna Be Easy

July 27, 2011

Scripture Readings:
2 Chronicles 19:1-20:37; Romans 10:14-11:12;
Psalm 21:1-13; Proverbs 20;4-6

Nobody said it was gonna be easy.  
~my dad

2 Chronicles 19:1-20:37

As children, my sisters and I would often complain to our parents about anything and everything that was going on in our lives.  Perhaps we were unhappy about the amount of homework we had.  Sometimes we would cry over broken friendships.  One time, our dog got run over by a car, and we stood in the kitchen, while mom cooked dinner, and cried with Dad over our loss.  One thing was always true as we faced hardship, my father would reassure us with this sage advice, "Nobody said it was gonna be easy."  I am thankful for this lesson he taught us.  His words were true.  If you are under the impression that life is a picnic where no hardships befall you, you are living in LALA Land.  Today, we see that even a man who follows God with great zeal experiences trials.

Yesterday, we learned that good King Jehoshaphat pleased God by building up certain things and tearing down other things.  Today, we see that Jehoshaphat personally went throughout his kingdom encouraging people to return to the Lord.  He appointed judges to handle disputes and told them not to judge to please people, but judge to please the Lord. His message to the administrators and civil authorities, as well as the priests and Levites, was to fear the Lord because God is with those who do what is right.  You would think that a man who conducted himself in this way would avoid tragedy in his life.  But, we learn from the life of Jehoshaphat that God does not spare His own children from trial.  Instead, He takes them through the trial.

Jehoshaphat does not experience peace, but instead after his campaign to promote the Lord, enemies surround his kingdom to attack.  In the face of this trial, Jehoshaphat does the following:
  • Seeks the Lord's guidance through prayer. 20:3
  • Gives orders for the people to fast. Vs. 3
  • Leads the people in corporate prayer. Vs. 5-11
  • Boldly asks God for help. Vs. 12
Note that after this godly leadership from good King Jehoshaphat, the people and their little ones, who were assembled with them, experience God's Spirit coming upon them as a group.  A prophet tells them that the Lord is going to fight for them tomorrow against their enemies.  They will only need to stand still and watch what the Lord will do.  At this pronouncement, the king and his people bow low to worship the Lord.  Jehoshaphat really has the gift of exhortation and encouragement.  He, once again, exhorts the people to believe what God has said.  This is the essence of faith. 

After this, I love what King Jehoshaphat does in order to participate in God's victory.  He appoints singers to walk ahead of the army, singing their praises to the Lord. What a fantastic act of faith and worship.  Can you imagine a singing army?  Worship and song proceed the brave warriors, who are trusting that their victory is going to come not from their own might, but from the might of the Lord.

God hears their songs of worship, and these songs cause God to act and the enemies begin to fight each other. The armies of Judah only need to come and see the dead bodies of their enemies lying on the ground for as far as the eye can see.

How do you handle your trials?  Do you consult God in prayer?  What about fasting for guidance?  Have you sung in worship in the midst of a life battle that only God can fight for you? 

Remember, nobody said it was gonna be easy!

Romans 10:14-11:12

I like to call this passage, Go Tell It On The Mountain.  Paul just taught us that salvation is as easy as believing and confessing.  It is accessible by our heart and our lips.  How easy is that!

Today, Paul logically asserts that you can't hear and confess unless someone has actually told you the good news! Faith comes about by listening to the good news about Christ.  Paul quotes the psalms when he says, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news."

Paul confirms that the Jews have heard the good news about Christ, but have rejected it.  He, once again, uses the Old Testament writings to confirm that this has been part of God's plan all along.  Paul quotes from Isaiah 65:2, "All day long I opened my arms to them, but they kept disobeying me and arguing with me."

Paul confirms that God is not rejecting all Jews.  He points out that he, himself, is a Jew. Paul Reminds us that Elijah thought that he was the only man left in Israel who worshiped God, but instead God showed Elijah that there was a small remnant of people in Israel who still worshiped Him like Elijah. Paul states that this is still the case.  Most Jews have not found favor with God, but some, who are chosen by Him, have. Paul quotes Moses, Isaiah, and David to prove that God is involved in putting the Jews into a deep sleep, shutting their eyes, and closing their ears, so that they do not hear.   Is this just a cruel joke?

No.  Paul gives us the reason God is doing this to the majority of the Jews.  It is so that the Gentiles will have salvation available to them, accept this salvation, and make the Jews jealous of the salvation God has so freely given to the Gentiles.  Paul anticipates in Verse 12 that one day, after the Gentiles have been enriched by God's offer of salvation, the world will be blessed by the Jews coming back into salvation, and the whole world will share faith in God.

It should be noted that with both the Jews and the Gentiles, only a portion of the people in the world will ever have true faith in God.  The story does not include every person on earth believing the truth.  This may seem like a sad reality to you.  Let's trust God, the Creator of All Things, to make wise and good decisions about His Universe.

Does this make sense to you?  Do some of the actions of the nation of Israel in the Old Testament become more understandable in light of Paul's teachings?  What do you think of this?

Remember, nobody said it was gonna be easy!

Psalm 21:1-13

Vs. 7 states that the king trusts in the Lord. 

This results in blessings for the king.  Jehoshaphat is an example of this.

Proverbs 20:4-6

Wise people draw out good advice from their hearts.  This ties to salvation being available from our heart of faith.

What did you notice today?  Please share.


Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

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