How to doom a kingdom, part II (We serve a powerful God)

Of course, Micaiah doesn’t say anything good about Ahab, just as the latter is accustomed to. He then goes on to report one of the most amazing as well as terrifying visions of the old testament:

I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left;and the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said one thing, and another said another.Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, saying, ‘I will entice him.’And the Lord said to him, ‘By what means?’ And he said, ‘I will go out, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And he said, ‘You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go out and do so.’Now therefore behold, the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; the Lord has declared disaster for you.” (vs. 19-23)

God’s sovereignty is a motivation for discipleship

This passage may be an eye-opener to some. It shows our Lord from a perspective that we don’t necessarily come to think of naturally. This is a God who intervenes in his creation. A God who decides by his sole will because he answers to no one. People take offense on this, but God is sovereign over his creation. This story is a great example of how God decides of the fate of people, in a way. One must not forget that Ahab also brought this on himself. After all, it was he who decided to sin for all of his life, to marry Jezbel, to hate the Lord and ignore the warning of his prophet. We have a great example of the way in which God’s will and human choice interact with each other here. It seems that God always gets his way without breaking the will of anyone. The knowledge of this fact should make us seek his glory and rejoice in him, because in the end, he will give us what we really want!

The ensuing battle (Ahab obviously ignores the warning) is almost comical. The king tries to escape his fate – or rather, divine providence – by disguising himself. Being the coward that he is, he even tells Jehoshaphat not to disguise himself in the hopes that he will be killed in his place. However, God opens the eyes of the Syrians and they see that he isn’t the king of Israel, ignoring him. As always, God preserves the faithful!
Now God shows that he always gets his will:  But a certain man drew his bow at random and struck the king of Israel between the scale armor and the breastplate. (v 34) One man fires a random arrow and hits the king at the small area where he is vulnerable! No one can defeat the will of God, under any circumstances!

With this knowledge, we are left to say If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31 Being aware that nothing can stop God and that he cares for the faithful really helps me in my daily life. Let us stand strong and fight the good fight trusting our Lord, the Lord of hosts! Let us seek his kingdom knowing that he will provide us with everything we need. Let us seek his glory, for he will reward it!

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How to doom a kingdom, part I (We serve a powerful God)

One of the passages I read today is one of the most interesting ones in the Bible, in my opinion. This is because it gives a tiny little bit of insight into the doings of our God, in a similar fashion to the books of Job or Revelation. I am always fascinated when I can see a little of God’s glory and supremacy like that!

The text is in 1 Kings 22:1-40. A few quick words on the setting: Jehoshaphat reigns in Judah. One of the better kings in history, he lives for the Lord (He walked in all the way of Asa his father. He did not turn aside from it, doing what was right in the sight of the Lord. v. 43a). He also married family of Ahab, who reigned over Israel.This is one of the most evil kings in the history of God’s people. He pretty much always did the opposite of what God had ordained. (There was none who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the Lord like Ahab, whom Jezebel his wife incited.He acted very abominably in going after idols, as the Amorites had done, whom the Lord cast out before the people of Israel. Chapter 21:25f)

The first part of this text can teach us a few very important things that apply in manhood, leadership, worship, life, and everything else important. Continue reading

1 Corinthians 1& 2 – God’s sovereignty || ministry? – how to witness

We often think that we have to convert people, that we have to convince them of the truth. But this is wrong. The recurring theme in these chapters is that we aren’t supposed to convert people through rhetorics; instead, we are supposed to be witnesses of the Cross!

“For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” (v. 1:17)

“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (v. 2:1.2 & 3.4)

These two verses clearly warn us from resorting to eloquence, or rhetorics, or wisdom, or whatever you want to call it. We should not try to convince people of the truth; that’s what human, earthly religions do. But what else should we do?

 “Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” (.v 2:12-16)

As you can see, our job is not of convincing. If we can convince people of something, then it isn’t the gospel! If we can convince people of something, we are teaching a different God than we should! For our Lord can’t be recognised or understood by people.
You see, this is why doctrine is important. It really, really is. Because what I just told you doesn’t make any sense if you don’t believe in the sovereignty of God. I mean, how are we supposed to minister if the only thing they understand is false?

You really do need to believe in God’s sovereignty to spread the gospel in God’s way.
Our job is to be witnesses! Testis, non orator. We aren’t supposed to convert. we witness the cross through scripture, through the Spirit, and if it is God’s will, he will give understanding and repentance to a person trough the Holy Spirit. God saves. We don’t. If we try to do it, we take the glory that is rightly his! “Lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”

“And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,  so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”” (v. 1:30-31)

We are saved because of God. Now let’s talk about it! And if, in his infinite wisdom, the Lord wishes so, he will save the person we are talking to.

2. Timothy 2:21 – Used of the Lord

“Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.” (2 Timothy 2:21)

Do you want to be used of the Lord?
I want to. Many people – in fact, most churches – want  to. We want to bear fruit. We want to prepare the kingdom of God. Right? But why do we often feel so useless??

The answer can be found in this passage. To be useful to the Lord, and so, to bear fruit, we must clean ourselves and set ourselves apart as holy, completely dedicated to the Lord’s cause. I will quote Paul Washer again. We aren’t relevant because we conform ourselves to the world. We are relevant because we are set apart, living our life for the Glory of God.

You see, you can’t convert anyone. Nor can you withstand the temptations of sin. Why then would you want to live like the world to minister them? The only thing you will achieve is weaken yourself through sin! If you want to be used of the Lord, then live your life his way, and he will work through you! He will use you, and he will convert people through you if you set yourself apart. But you gotta do it his way. Your way isn’t an alternative to a holy, set-apart life – if your way isn’t God’s way, your way hinders God! Pastors, elders, parents, let me tell you this: If you want your church to be relevant, if you want the Lord to save people using you, then do not be conformed to this world!

In Hosea, Israel conformed itself to the world. It sinned against God in many ways. What is our Lord’s view on this?

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” (Hosea 4:6)

Israel didn’t turn to the Word for knowledge. Modern, popular “christian” churches are in imminent danger of this: They listen to pop culture, to psychology, to philosophy, and they try to be attractive to the world to save people. God doesn’t need you to be attractive. God is Sovereign! He can save people without you looking like them. In fact, that’s the way he wants to do it. Do NOT be conformed to this world!
That’s also the way Paul tells the gospel. Did you notice that he never alters the gospel to be politically correct? Never. He explains differently from culture to culture so that his audience may understand better, but he never leaves anything out. And he always makes people mad – because that’s the reaction you will get if you preach the gospel. Do you preach the gospel? Or do you teach your politically correct view of God, so the pagans will like what they hear? If so, good luck: “They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.” (Titus 1:16)
You probably know the gospel of Matthew. If you don’t bear fruit, be afraid!
“Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Matthew 3:10)

One final thought about sin and being conformed to the world; again, from Hosea:
“Strangers devour his strength, and he knows it not; gray hairs are sprinkled upon him, and he knows it not.  The pride of Israel testifies to his face; yet they do not return to the Lord their God, nor seek him, for all this.(Hosea 7:9-10)

Sin, if tolerated and pursued – as churches that want to be like the people they minister to in order to be relevant do – will weaken you to the point that you cannot serve the Lord.

If you want to be used of the Lord, set yourself apart in holiness!