Obvious Consequences

I think these correlations are pretty visible in the life of King Jehoshaphat. See if you can spot them too. 

Jehoshaphat “followed [God’s] commands” and “the Lord established the kingdom under his control.” 

Jehoshaphat sent Levites out to teach the people God’s law and “the fear of the Lord fell on all the kingdoms of the land surrounding Judah.” 

Jehoshaphat cried out to God while being pursued by enemies, “and the Lord helped him.” 

Jehoshaphat allied himself with Israel—marrying Ahab’s daughter and going to war with Israel—and he was told, “the wrath of the Lord is on you.” 

“Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord” when the enemy was poised to attack and God gave him assurance of victory. 

Jehoshaphat appointed worshipers to lead the army and “the Lord set ambushes” to defeat the enemy, causing His fear to once again fall on the surrounding nations. 

Jehoshaphat allied himself with Israel again and their joint sailing venture ended in shipwreck. 

[check out the biblical texts for all of the above examples by clicking here] 

It seems to me that the blessings of following God and doing things His way, and the consequences of ignoring His commands, are so plainly visible. There really is no excuse for my ignorance on this.

The question is: Will I do things God’s way and enjoy His blessings, or will I continue to try to do things my way and risk God’s wrath?

True Prosperity

…and so he prospered (2 Chronicles 31:20-21). 

When I look up “prosper” in the dictionary, the first entry says, “to be successful or fortunate, especially in financial respects.” This isn’t even close to the Old Testament Hebrew word for prosper! 

God makes prosper a dependence on Him. Mammon makes prosper a dependence on self. 

The Hebrew word tsalach means: 

  • to overcome obstacles (like crossing a river) 
  • to be empowered by the Spirit of God to overcome an enemy (like Samson did) 
  • to flourish like a plant growing to full harvest 
  • to have favor with man so that good can be done for others (Nehemiah 1:11) 
  • to finish well (2 Chronicles 7:11) 
  • to be poured out; to be a conduit of God’s blessings to others 

Prosperity God’s way is being blessed to be a blessing to others.

Prosperity is never for me, only from God through me. 

Prosperity from God helps me overcome obstacles for others, defeat enemies for others, bring in a good harvest for others, have earthly favor that will benefit others, finish well for the sake of others. 

I’ll say it again: True prosperity ISN’T for me, it’s only from God through me! 

Hezekiah showed how God’s prosperity came through him to benefit others: 

  • he did “what was good and right and faithful before the Lord” 
  • he lived “in obedience to the law and the commands” 
  • “he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly” 

In light of this definition, I have no problem praying, “God, make me prosperous. As I seek You and work wholeheartedly, flow through me to bless others!

Humility Is A Daily Choice

…As long as Uzziah sought the Lord, God gave him success. … But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall… (2 Chronicles 26:5, 16). 

Success makes me more vulnerable to pride. Success can distract from the very One who gave me success. I am in danger of losing God’s blessings in the very moment I am enjoying God’s blessings. 

Humility has to be an ongoing choice. That choice becomes harder as the successes become bigger or more frequent. But choosing pride in “my accomplishments” will undo all the previous successes. 

The only way to keep these blessings is two words: IF ONLY. If only I will continue to remain humble before God and obedient to Him. 

Uzziah, sadly, didn’t make that choice. His pride in God’s success led to his downfall. 

His son Jotham learned this lesson. Jotham grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the Lord his God (27:6). 

I like the KJV of this verse that says, “Jotham grew powerful because he prepared his ways before the Lord his God.” 

Jotham was keenly aware that everything he did was seen by God. He was determined that everything he did would be pleasing in God’s sight. The word “before” in verse 6 means “in front” of or even “before the face.” Jotham didn’t live as though he might face God at the end of his life, but as though he was facing God at every moment of his life. 

Notice two phrases in this sentence—grew powerful and walked steadfastly. They are directly tied to each other: Jotham became powerful only because he was determined to live righteously and humbly in God’s sight. The more powerful he became, the more he increased his commitment to live humbly before God’s face. 

He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father Uzziah had done, BUT unlike him he did not enter the temple of the Lord (v. 2). 

Jotham humbly prepared his ways before the Lord, and when God made him powerful Jotham re-committed to stay humble. Great choice! 

I’ll say it again: The only way to keep God’s blessings on my initial humble choice is to continue to choose humility at every moment of success. 

Only One Thing Limits Prayer

“…the heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain You. How much less this temple I have built! Yet, Lord by God, give attention to Your servant’s prayer…” (2 Chronicles 6:18, 19). 

It’s amazing to think that the Limitless God of the Universe condescends to listen to frail human prayers! 

The key is my humility to approach God. Not as one afraid to approach, but as one who is humbly confident that He wants me to come to Him (see Matthew 6:8). 

Solomon repeatedly asked God to “hear” and respond (vv. 19, 20, 21, 23, 25, 27, 30, 33, 35, 39). And God says, “I have heard you and I will continue to hear and respond” (7:12, 14)! 

Oh what peace we often forfeit
Oh what needless pain be bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer

If God wants to hear from me, why do I try to handle things on my own?! 

My prayers are only limited by my pride that keeps me from coming to God in prayer.

Our Most Effective Shield And (S)word

…with You mouth You have promised and with Your hand You have fulfilled it… (2 Chronicles 6:15). 

I rest solely on what God says—He says it and He fulfills it. 

I can live on “every Word” He speaks (Deuteronomy 8:3).

“Every Word” of God is flawless and is a protection for me (Proverbs 30:5).

None of God’s Word ever fail (Isaiah 55:11).

God gives us His Word to speak (Jeremiah 26:12; John 12:49; Luke 21:15).

We defeat our enemies by God’s Word in our mouth (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10; Revelation 12:11).

Every Word of God gives life because of the Holy Spirit’s anointing on it (John 6:63).

Every Word of God is a sword (Hebrews 4:12; Revelation 1:16; 2:12, 16; 19:15). Or as my friend Sasha reminds me God’s Word is our S(word)! 

There isn’t a more effective shield against enemies, there isn’t a more deadly weapon against temptation, there isn’t a more sure foundation in storms than the Word spoken and fulfilled by God! 

[check out all of the above passages for yourself by clicking here] 

Links & Quotes

link quote

“To fulfill God’s destiny for your life, you likely don’t have to do more; you have to do less. … Enjoy the Christmas season. Wrap the presents. Prepare your home in a festive way. Make memories with your family. But don’t let this Christmas pass without spending some time at Jesus’ feet. Long after everything else fades from this Christmas, worshiping Jesus is all that will truly last.” —Rick Warren

“Holidays in America have come to be regarded as entitlements. They’re all about us, seasons of diversion, distraction, self-indulgence, and time off work. Even the great religious celebrations of the national calendar—Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter—are regarded by most Americans as opportunities to get some good bargains and enjoy a little time for relaxation, not for spiritual reflection and renewal, but just for doing whatever we want. Sort of like the way most Christians observe the Lord’s Day.” —T.M. Moore

As we are celebrating the First Advent, J. Warner Wallace asks a great question: Why didn’t the Apostle Paul mention the virgin conception?

“I am convinced many Christians today are troubled for the same reason Asa was [2 Chronicles 16:1-9]. They have war in their souls because they have traded faith for self-reliance. But the fact is, there is no way a follower of Jesus can have faith in any other source and not be troubled.” —David Wilkerson

“People who are exercised and preoccupied with such things as how the star worked and how the Red Sea split and how the manna fell and how Jonah survived the fish and how the moon turns to blood are generally people who have what I call a mentality for the marginal. You do not see in them a deep cherishing of the great central things of the gospel—the holiness of God, the ugliness of sin, the helplessness of man, the death of Christ, justification by faith alone, the sanctifying work of the Spirit, the glory of Christ’s return and the final judgment. They always seem to be taking you down a sidetrack with a new article or book. There is little centered rejoicing.” —John Piper

“Whether one makes the observation light-heartedly or in all seriousness, one must observe that, when the male body unites for procreation with the female, the pleasure that goes along with it is understood to be in accordance with nature, but that when male joins with male, or female with female, it is outside the bounds of nature. This outrage was first done by people whose desire for pleasure was without self-control.” —Plato. This agrees with what the Bible says in Romans 1:26-27.

Lenny Esposito has some good advice for students to defend their Christian faith in the classroom.

Seth Godin has some insight on whining—“Before starting, a question: Will it help? Like holding a grudge, or like panicking, whining rarely helps. If anything, any of the three make it far less likely that you’ll make progress solving the problem that has presented itself. And, like knuckle cracking, it’s best enjoyed alone.”

[VIDEO] Bobby Conway asks Lenny Esposito how to handle the claim “The Bible has contradictions in it”—

Finishing Well

Asa started so well, accomplished so many things, was known for his greatness, won an unbelievable victory, made the tough choices that the people loved, and then faded into disrepute.

Starting well is important; finishing well is so much more important. After we’re gone, people usually remember us for how we went out.

Asa was a great king of Judah (see 2 Chronicles 14-16). He began to clean out all of the false gods and pull down the places where these idols were worshipped. The people were so unified behind Asa that none of their enemies even dared to attack them. And Asa recognized this. He said, “The land is ours and is at peace because we have sought God; we’ve sought Him and He’s given us peace everywhere.”

An army from Cush (modern-day Sudan and Libya) marched up to challenge Asa in battle. The Cushites came with an army too large to even count, while Asa had about 500,000 fighting men. Asa and his men called on God, and God helped them win an incredible victory. In fact, they inflicted such heavy casualties on the Cushites that they never returned to their former strength.

Then something happened.

Baasha, the king of Israel, began fortifying the city of Ramah. This wasn’t hostile in itself, but it did look to Asa like the build-up to war. Israel’s army wasn’t nearly the size of the army of Cush that Asa had just seen God help him defeat. But instead of calling on God, Asa bribed Ben-Hadad, king of Aram, to break his treaty with Israel. This political turnabout caused Baasha to quit building up Ramah to move his forces to protect himself from Aram.

At first glance, it looks like Asa won. He was the clever one. He did it himself. And there’s the problem: he did it himself—he didn’t rely on God.

Why did Asa do this? Why did he abandon God? Why didn’t he seek God as he did before?

The prophet Hanani came to ask Asa these very questions. Hanani told Asa it was foolish of him to turn his back on God. Instead of this prompting Asa to recognize he had slipped away from God, he got angry and threw Hanani in prison. Then in his guilt-provoked rage, Asa began to oppress his own people.

A short time later Asa contracted some sort of disease in his feet. The Bible says, “Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the Lord, but only from the physicians.”

Asa started out so well, yet finished so poorly. Starting well is important; finishing well is so much more important.

The Lord is with you when you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you, but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you (2 Chronicles 15:2).

What are you doing today to make sure you finish well? The best thing you can do is seek God with all your heart. Do that and you will finish well. People usually remember us for how we go out.

Finish well.

The Right Questions

“The uncreative mind can spot wrong answers, but it takes a creative mind to spot wrong questions.” —Sir Anthony Jay

This has always been a challenge for me—maybe for you, too. I can easily spot when someone gives me a wrong answer, but it’s harder to spot when I’ve asked a wrong question. It could very well be that the answer I’m hearing is correct in light of the question I asked.

But spotting wrong questions requires a humility on my part to admit I may be wrong. Spotting wrong questions requires creativity, a new way of looking at things.

There is a short story about the life of King Abijah recorded in 2 Chronicles 13 in the Bible. Abijah is the second king to reign in Judah after the 10 northern tribes had seceded. He is vastly outmanned and out-spent by King Jeroboam of the northern tribes (called Israel). When it comes to a battle between north and south, Abijah can only field half as many men as Jeroboam.

Yet it is Abijah who takes charge of the battlefield before the fighting begins. He climbs to the top of Mount Zemaraim to make sure all of the northern tribes can hear him. The wrong question would have been, “Which side is God on: Israel’s or Judah’s?” The correct question which Abijah must have asked and answered for himself—is, “Are we on God’s side?

Abijah begins to recount how God chose for a descendant of David to sit on the throne (Abijah), but northern Israel was following a rebel (Jeroboam). God intended for the descendants of Aaron to oversee the sacrifices and religious practices; Judah was doing this, but Israel had their own priests. God was to be worshipped exclusively; Judah was doing this, but Jeroboam made golden calves for Israel to worship.

So Abijah correctly concludes, “God is with us; He is our leader.”

Abijah didn’t assume God was with Judah. Abijah didn’t ask, “Does God lead us or them?” Abijah asked, “Are we doing the things that God has asked of us?” Since Judah was following God, Abijah could then state with confidence, “God is with us.”

The question is not, “Is God on your side?” It’s better to ask, “Am I on God’s side?

The question is not, “What would Jesus do if He was here?” It’s better to ask, “What did Jesus already do that I can follow?

What questions are you asking? Change your questions and you just may change your life.

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