Monthly Archives: April 2013

Say or Do?

“An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory” (Friedrich Engels).

“Achievement seems to be connected with action. Successful men and  women keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit” (Conrad Hilton).

Doing is better than knowing or saying.  It’s true in all of life, including the spiritual.

Think about Kings Abijah and Asa, the son and grandson of Rehoboam, the son of Solomon.  In the record of Abijah from 2 Chronicles there is a noticeable absence of any reference to his standing with God.  That’s a telling sign. Yet, he delivers a very passioned and (mostly) accurate account of the difference between Judah and Israel to Jeroboam and his nation.  He basically says you have forsaken God and will not succeed (2 Chronicles 13:8-12), while in Judah we have remained faithful and “God is with us at our head” (v. 12).

Nice speech.

But notice what happens when Abijah dies and his son Asa reigns.  Asa removed the foreign altars and high places, tore down the sacred pillars, cut down the Asherim, and commanded all Judah to seek the Lord God and observe His law (2 Chron. 14:3-5).   This is all preceded with a statement about Asa that was absent with his father, “And Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God” (v. 2).

That’s the difference: Abijah said; Asa did.

–David Deffenbaugh

For today’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

April 30 Bible Reading: 2 Chronicles 11:5-23; 13:3-21; 14:6-15:15; 17; 19; 20:1-30

Continuing our readings of material that is unique to Chronicles (which covers the same general time as 2 Samuel through 2 Kings) we find additional information concerning the reigns of kings of Judah: Rehoboam, Abijam (also called Abijah), Asa, and Jehoshaphat.

For today’s daily devotional CLICK HERE

For April’s supplemental Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

For April’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

Valuable Lessons From a Dismal Failure

I really do love fly fishing.   One thing I enjoy about it is that there is always something more to learn.  No matter how good, or bad, one may be at it there is something they can learn to help them be better at it, enjoy it more, and, hopefully, catch more fish. The “I’ve-got-it-all-figured-out” mentality doesn’t last long.

Anyone interested in serving and seeking and pleasing God, will be on the constant lookout for insights and understanding about how that can be done better.

Here’s something interesting from David’s experience of moving the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem.  The first attempt had been disastrous.  Uzzah died as a result (see 1 Chron. 13).  Notice this comment from David reflecting on that failed effort; “Because you did not carry it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not seek him according to the rule” (1 Chron. 15:13).

Here’s some observations about that first attempt:

  •     The decision to bring the ark was made by the best leadership (see. 13:1)
  •     The effort was considered to be “from the Lord” (see 13:2)
  •     Consensus opinion of the people was that it was “right” (see 13:4)
  •     The project enjoyed wide ranging support (see 13:5)
  •     Due respect was given to what the ark meant and represented (see 13:6)
  •     It was a time of great celebration (see 13:8)

And yet God “broke out against us, because we did not did not seek him according to the rule.”  Here are some more observations based on David’s assessment.

  •     Our good intentions are not sufficient, we must follow God’s “rule”
  •     Otherwise good leadership can be wrong
  •     Consensus opinion is of little value in pleasing God
  •     What seems “right” and “from the Lord” to us, may not be at all
  •     Widespread support and celebratory moods do not sanctify a wrong
  •     Proper understanding and respect for God in one area does not cover over failure to obey in     another

What’s the bottom line?  Well, let’s allow Jesus to say it; “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21).

–David Deffenbaugh

For today’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

April 29 Bible Reading: 1 Chronicles 15:1-24; 22:2-19; 28:1-29:22

Today’s and tomorrow’s readings will be our “supplemental readings” for April to finish out the month.

Today’s reading will focus on material related to David and Solomon found only in 1 Chronicles.  This includes additional information from the occasion that David moved the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem, his words of advice and wisdom to Solomon, as well as his final prayer.

Also found in 1 Chronicles, but which we will not read, is the account of David’s organization of the Priests, Levites, and other officials related to the work and service of the temple, including musicians and gatekeepers (1 Chronicles 23-27).

For today’s daily devotional CLICK HERE

For April’s supplemental Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

For April’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

April Supplemental Bible Reading Introduction: April 29-30

Introduction to April Supplemental Bible Reading

April 29-30

April’s supplemental readings are taken from 1 & 2 Chronicles.  These books repeat much of the same material recorded in 2 Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings, although there is material unique to each source.

The two books of Chronicles were written late in Old Testament history.  They were penned during the time of the return of many of the Jews to Jerusalem and Judah following the Babylonian captivity.  They appear to serve as reminders to these returning captives of their heritage as God’s people.

For April’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

The Limitations of God

Some things just always go together; peanut butter and jelly; love and marriage; Jekyll and Hyde.

What goes with God?  Lots of things; love, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, sovereignty, power, infinite—speaking of which, I guess this list could be as well.

But limitations?  We’d argue that one of the things that makes God, God is that where we are so limited, He is not.  He’s not limited by time or space or knowledge or strength.  “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end” (so the song adaptation of Lam. 3:22 goes).  We even talk about His limitlessness in His being omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient.

But it’s not true across the board.  God does have limitations.  What God is and does must remain consistent with His character and nature.  So the Bible specifically says that God cannot lie and He cannot be tempted by evil (Hebrews 6:18; James 1:13).  So it is also true of His toleration for sin in man.  It’s not that sin is ever OK with God, but, for instance, there obviously came a time in the lives of the Kings when He said, “That’s it,” and took action against them for their sin.  It was true of Jeroboam and Ahab (1 Kings 14:7-11; 21:21-24).

That’s just it, isn’t it?  That while some things always go together, some things never do.  Such as God and sin.

Here’s the marvelous reality, though; instead of immediate condemnation for humanity’s sin, God responds with time. Time allows for the opportunity for repentance and forgiveness.  That is Peter’s meaning when He says we should “count the patience of our Lord as salvation” (2 Peter 3:15).

Here’s the point for us: just because we’re not experiencing any immediate negative consequences for sin doesn’t mean we’re in the clear.  God’s patience is not without limits.

–David Deffenbaugh

For today’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

April 28 Bible Reading: Catch Up Day

Today is the catch up day for the fourth week of April.  No reading is scheduled but please consider the thoughts below as taken from this week’s readings.

1. The sin of Jeroboam maintains the spotlight of Scripture’s attention.  His alternative religious system is one he “devised from his own heart” (1 Kings 12:33).  That was in direct contradiction to what God had explicitly revealed in His Law.  Then, as now, the fundamental issue is whether we will submit to God’s revealed will or follow our own.

2. Elijah makes an important appearance in the New Testament.  It is he, along with Moses, who appears with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt. 17:1-8), talking with our Lord.  He seems to represent all the prophets–and Moses the Law–when God states that His own Son is the one to whom we ought to listen.

3. One incident from Ahab’s life is quite surprising. Following God’s pronounced judgment against the house of Ahab after his seizure of Naboth’s property, Ahab humbly repents (1 Kings 21:27).  And God responds to him with favor (v. 28-29).  Scripture plainly expresses the extreme of Ahab’s wickedness in one breath (vv. 25-26) and then God’s positive reaction to this evil man’s penitence in the next (vv. 27-29).  The point here is evidence of the extreme sensitivity of God to man’s humility.

For today’s daily devotional CLICK HERE

For April week 4 Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

For April’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

April 27 Bible Reading: 2 Kings 1-2

Ahab’s son Ahaziah succeeds his wicked father, and he too must deal with God’s prophet Elijah, his father’s nemesis.

In remarkable fashion, the great prophet Elijah does not die, but is escorted from his earthly existence in a chariot and horses of fire by a whirlwind.  His successor, Elisha, witnesses the incredible event.

For today’s daily devotional CLICK HERE

For April week 4 Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

For April’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

The Worst–and Most Common–Kind of Atheism

It would appear that atheism has found its voice in our generation.  Not that it hasn’t been around for a very, very long time and there haven’t been previous times when spiritual skepticism flourished, but it appears to have achieved virtually unprecedented levels of notoriety and influence.  Think Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens who have achieved nearly “household name” status.

The greater issue, though, is not theoretical atheism, but practical atheism.  That is, it isn’t the philosophical arguments against the existence of God that are the greatest concern—not to downplay that problem at all; rather it is acting as if there is no God, even by professed believers.

The Bible addresses both.  Simply stated, Scripture’s position of theoretical atheism is, “The fool says in his heart, There is not God’” (Psa. 14:1).

Practical atheism, on the other hand, is much more prevalent and problematic.  It’s like king Ahaziah whom God asked through Elijah, “Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baalzebub, the god of Ekron?” (2 Kings 1:3).  Or those warned in James about boasting of their grand and prosperous plans, all the while acting as if God didn’t even exist (Jas. 4:13-17).

Practical atheism fails to act like God exists.  It fails to acknowledge His sovereignty and His goodness, His steadfast love and constant care.

Theoretical atheists may use their words to say there is no God, but practical atheists use their actions.  And the old idiom is true, actions do speak louder than words.

–David Deffenbaugh

For today’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

April 26 Bible Reading: 1 Kings 21-22

Perhaps the crowning event (negatively speaking) of Ahab’s reign is the seizure of Naboth’s property.  For this God issues his judgment against Ahab’s house. Surprisingly, Ahab repents and God decides to postpone his punishment.

Of interest is the fact that the closest alliance achieved between Israel and Judah took place during the reigns of Israel’s worst king, Ahab, and one of Judah’s better kings, Jehoshaphat.

For today’s daily devotional CLICK HERE

For April week 4 Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

For April’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE