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Archive for November, 2011

Yearnings

There will come a time when your yearnings become so strong and powerful that you will have no choice but to let them become reality.

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2 Timothy 提摩太後書 2:1-2

我兒阿、你要在基督耶穌的恩典上剛強起來。你在許多見證人面前聽見我所教訓的、也要交託那忠心能教導別人的人。

You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.

2 Chronicles 19

1 Jehoshaphat king of Judah came back safely to his palace in Jerusalem.
2 Jehu son of Hanani, a seer, went out to meet him and said to the king, “Why did you help evil people? Why do you love those who hate theLord? That is the reason the Lord is angry with you.
3 But there is some good in you. You took the Asherah idols out of this country, and you have tried to obey God.”

Jehoshaphat Chooses Judges
4 Jehoshaphat lived in Jerusalem. He went out again to be with the people, from Beersheba to the mountains of Ephraim, and he turned them back to the Lord, the God of their ancestors.
5 Jehoshaphat appointed judges in all the land, in each of the strong, walled cities of Judah.
6 Jehoshaphat said to them, “Watch what you do, because you are not judging for people but for the Lord. He will be with you when you make a decision.
7 Now let each of you fear the Lord. Watch what you do, because the Lord our God wants people to be fair. He wants all people to be treated the same, and he doesn’t want decisions influenced by money.”

8 And in Jerusalem Jehoshaphat appointed some of the Levites, priests, and leaders of Israelite families to be judges. They were to decide cases about the law of the Lord and settle problems between the people who lived in Jerusalem.
9 Jehoshaphat commanded them, “You must always serve the Lord completely, and you must fear him.
10 Your people living in the cities will bring you cases about killing, about the teachings, commands, rules, or some other law. In all these cases you must warn the people not to sin against the Lord. If you don’t, he will be angry with you and your people. But if you warn them, you won’t be guilty.

11 “Amariah, the leading priest, will be over you in all cases about the Lord. Zebadiah son of Ishmael, a leader in the tribe of Judah, will be over you in all cases about the king. Also, the Levites will serve as officers for you. Have courage. May the Lord be with those who do what is right.”

Jehoshaphat visits his kingdom.
Whenever we return in peace to our houses, we ought to acknowledge God’s providence in preserving our going out and coming in. And if we have been kept through more than common dangers, we are, in a special manner, bound to be thankful. Distinguishing mercies lay us under strong obligations. The prophet tells Jehoshaphat he had done very ill in joining Ahab. He took the reproof well. See the effect the reproof had upon him. He strictly searched his own kingdom. By what the prophet said, Jehoshaphat perceived that his former attempts for reformation were well-pleasing to God; therefore he did what was then left undone. It is good when commendations quicken us to our duty. There are diversities of gifts and operations, but all from the same Spirit, and for the public good; and as every one has received the gift, so let him minister the same. Blessed be God for magistrates and ministers, scribes and statesmen, men of books, and men of business. Observe the charge the king gave. They must do all in the fear of the Lord, with a perfect, upright heart. And they must make it their constant care to prevent sin, as an offence to God, and what would bring wrath on the people.

Ahab

[Ā’hăb] – father’s brother.

1. The son of Omri, and his successor as the seventh king of Israel
1 Kings 16:28-33: – 28 Omri rested with his ancestors and was buried in Samaria. And Ahab his son succeeded him as king.
29 In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab son of Omri became king of Israel, and he reigned in Samaria over Israel twenty-two years.
30 Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the LORD than any of those before him.
31 He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him.
32 He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria.
33 Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to arouse the anger of the LORD, the God of Israel, than did all the kings of Israel before him.

The Man Who Wanted Another’s Vineyard

Ahab was an able and energetic warrior. His victories over the Syrians pushed the borders of his kingdom to the border of Damascus. Great renown became his, also great wealth indicated by the ivory palace he built for himself
1 Kings 21:1: – 1 Some time later there was an incident involving a vineyard belonging to Naboth the Jezreelite. The vineyard was in Jezreel, close to the palace of Ahab king of Samaria.

1 Kings 22:39: – 39 As for the other events of Ahab’s reign, including all he did, the palace he built and adorned with ivory, and the cities he fortified, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel?

Success, however, made him greedy for still more. Not since Solomon’s time had a king been so victorious as Ahab, and what was a little matter like Naboth’s vineyard to one who had grasped so much? With his wealth, Ahab bought all he wanted. One tenant, however, could not be bought out. Sentiment, affection and tender memories were more to Naboth than all the king’s money.

Ahab could not say “All is mine” until the vineyard on his estate was his. First of all, there was no flaw in Ahab’s advances. A fair price and richer land were offered Naboth. The sin came after Naboth’s refusal to sell, because of a thousand sacred ties. Ahab sinned in not entering into a poorer man’s feelings. Naboth was not obstinate. His vineyard was a sacred heritage, a precious tradition. If we are to be Christlike we must be considerate of others.

Ahab’s next fault was that of making an awful grievance of his disappointment. He acted like a spoiled child and in a sulky fit told of failure to secure the vineyard to Jezebel, his strong-minded wife. Ahab and Jezebel are the Macbeth and Lady Macbeth of this inspired story. Ahab played into his wife’s hands, and those hands were eager to shed blood.

Points for possible expansion are:
I. Ahab established idolatry. He was a dangerous innovator and a patron of foreign gods
1 Kings 16:31-33: – 31 He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him.
32 He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria.
33Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to arouse the anger of the LORD, the God of Israel, than did all the kings of Israel before him.

1 Kings 21:26: – 26 He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols, like the Amorites the LORD drove out before Israel.

II. He was a weak-minded man, lacking moral fiber and righteousness (1 Kings 21:4: –4 So Ahab went home, sullen and angry because Naboth the Jezreelite had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my ancestors.” He lay on his bed sulking and refused to eat).

III. He was the tool of his cruel, avaricious wife
1 Kings 21:7: – 7 Jezebel his wife said, “Is this how you act as king over Israel? Get up and eat! Cheer up. I’ll get you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”

1 Kings 21:25: – 25 There was never anyone like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the LORD, urged on by Jezebel his wife.

IV. His doom, along with that of Jezebel, was foretold by Elijah (1 Kings 21:22: –22 I will make your house like that of Jeroboam son of Nebat and that of Baasha son of Ahijah, because you have aroused my anger and have caused Israel to sin) and by Micaiah (1 Kings 22:28: – 28 Micaiah declared, “If you ever return safely, the LORD has not spoken through me.” Then he added, “Mark my words, all you people!”).

2. The name of the false prophet who was in Babylon during the exile, and was roasted in the fire by Nebuchadnezzar
Jer. 29:21-23: –21 This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says about Ahab son of Kolaiah and Zedekiah son of Maaseiah, who are prophesying lies to you in my name: “I will deliver them into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he will put them to death before your very eyes.
22 Because of them, all the exiles from Judah who are in Babylon will use this curse: ‘May the LORD treat you like Zedekiah and Ahab, whom the king of Babylon burned in the fire.’
23 For they have done outrageous things in Israel; they have committed adultery with their neighbors’ wives, and in my name they have uttered lies—which I did not authorize. I know it and am a witness to it,” declares the LORD.

Zechariah 8:9-13

This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Now hear these words, Let your hands be strong so that the temple may be built.’ This is also what the prophets said who were present when the foundation was laid for the house of the LORD Almighty. Before that time there were no wages for people or hire for animals. No one could go about their business safely because of their enemies, since I had turned everyone against their neighbor. But now I will not deal with the remnant of this people as I did in the past,’ declares the LORD Almighty. ‘The seed will grow well, the vine will yield its fruit, the ground will produce its crops, and the heavens will drop their dew. I will give all these things as an inheritance to the remnant of this people. Just as you, Judah and Israel, have been a curse among the nations, so I will save you, and you will be a blessing. Do not be afraid, but let your hands be strong.’

A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies: ‘Get a grip on things. Hold tight, you who are listening to what I say through the preaching of the prophets. The Temple of God-of-the-Angel-Armies has been reestablished. The Temple is being rebuilt. We’ve come through a hard time: You worked for a pittance and were lucky to get that; the streets were dangerous; you could never let down your guard; I had turned the world into an armed camp. -‘But things have changed. I’m taking the side of my core of surviving people: Sowing and harvesting will resume, Vines will grow grapes, Gardens will flourish, Dew and rain will make everything green. ‘My core survivors will get everything they need–and more. You’ve gotten a reputation as a bad-news people, you people of Judah and Israel, but I’m coming to save you. From now on, you’re the good-news people. Don’t be afraid. Keep a firm grip on what I’m doing.

Kids Bible Study 12-1-2011

Jephthah’s Daughter
Judges 10 to Judges 11
Jephthah’s daughter comes hurrying out to meet her father, singing for joy.

IN THE LANDof Israel east of Jordan there lived a man named Jephthah. His brothers despised him and drove him away from their father’s home, so he went to live in the land called Tob. Here he became a strong man, and his brave deeds were told by many people. Finally even his brothers heard about them.    At this time the Israelites were in great trouble again. They had quit going to the tabernacle at Shiloh to worship God. Everywhere in the land they were bowing down before the gods that other nations worshiped. And the very nations whose gods they were serving began to trouble them. They began to make war against the Israelites and to take away their riches. The Ammonites came from the east and the Philistines came from the west and ruled over the Israelites. The Ammonites even threatened to take away the homes of the Israelites and to drive them out of their country. This was an unhappy time indeed for the people who had once enjoyed the blessings of God.

After suffering for eighteen years under the rule of their enemies, the Israelites remembered how God had long ago given them all the land and had made them stronger than all the nations who lived around them. So they cried to God for help, and they expected God to send a deliverer, just as he had done at other times when they were in trouble.

But God was much displeased with the people. He was not willing to help them, because they had turned away from him to worship the gods of other nations. He said, “Let the gods that you have chosen instead of me help you out of your trouble. I will not be your God when trouble comes upon you if you will not worship me when you have rest from your enemies.”

Now the Israelites became very sorry for having sinned against the true God. They saw that the gods they were serving could never help them at all. They knew that true God whom their fathers had worshiped could deliver them out of the power of their enemies. So they tore down their idols and began to serve the Lord. They confessed their sins to the Lord and asked him again to help him.

When the Lord saw that the people were really sorry for their sins, he began to pity them. He saw them gather their soldiers together at a place called Mizpah, to fight against the Ammonites. But they had no leader.

Finally some one remembered Jephthah whose brave deeds had been told through all the land. They sent quickly for him to come to lead them to the battle against the Ammonites. But Jephthah was not willing to come. Not until his brothers had promised to treat him kindly would Jephthah return again with his family to his old home and help his people out of their trouble.

Jephthah knew that unless God would be with him he could not gain a victory over the Ammonites. So he asked God to help him, and he promised to give as a present to God the first thing that should meet him on his return home from the battle. This was not a wise promise; for Jephthah did not know what might come first to greet him on his return.

The Ammonites sent a message to the Israelites at Mizpah and wanted them to give up all the land east of the Jordan River; they said this land belonged to them first. But Jephthah sent back an answer that God would be the judge, for he had given the land to the people of Israel. Then the battle began; and the Israelites won the victory.

News of the victory reached Jephthah’s home before he returned with the army of Mizpah. And everybody was glad because God had helped them again. Jephthah’s daughter, his only child, came hurrying out to meet her father, singing for joy. But her song ended quickly when she saw her father’s troubled face. He had remembered his promise to the Lord. Now he believed that he must give his only child as an offering to God. How sorry he felt because he had made such an unwise promise! He tore his clothes and cried out in distress. Then he told his daughter about the promise that he had made.

The people of other nations sometimes gave their children to their gods; but the law of Moses forbade the Israelites doing such a thing. Perhaps Jephthah had never heard that part of the law read, and he had often heard about the cruel custom of his heathen neighbors. He believed that he would need to keep his promise, although it was not a wise one. And his daughter urged him to keep it. because God had given him the victory over their enemies. But first she asked for two months time to spend alone with her friends in the mountains, weeping because she must soon be taken away from them. Afterwards she returned again to her father that he might fulfill his promise to God.

Jephthah judged Israel for six years after his victory over the Ammonites, and then he died.

Prayer 12-1-2011

Dear Father, I know that you have a wonderful plan and purpose for me. I desire to be in right standing with you. Show me your ways and teach me to walk righteously before you. Shine your light in my heart and give me strength to pursue the path you have in store for me.

In Jesus’ Name
Amen

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