The Mercy and Grace of God on Display (2 Chronicles 33)

Hezekiah was a great king. He was man who sought to obey the Lord and desired His leading. He was not a perfect man, but his life was marked by seeking the Lord wholeheartedly (31:20, 21).

After his death, the Bible says that his son “Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem” (33:1, ESV). The chapter goes on a tells us about His reign as king. Verses 2-9 (ESV), “And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel. For he rebuilt the high places that his father Hezekiah had broken down, and he erected altars to the Baals, and made Asheroth, and worshiped all the host of heaven and served them. And he built altars in the house of the LORD, of which the LORD had said, “In Jerusalem shall my name be forever.” And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD. And he burned his sons as an offering in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, and used fortune-telling and omens and sorcery, and dealt with mediums and with necromancers. He did much evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger. And the carved image of the idol that he had made he set in the house of God, of which God said to David and to Solomon his son, “In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my name forever,  and I will no more remove the foot of Israel from the land that I appointed for your fathers, if only they will be careful to do all that I have commanded them, all the law, the statutes, and the rules given through Moses.” Manasseh led Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem astray, to do more evil than the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the people of Israel.”

Read that last sentence again. “Manasseh led Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem astray, to do more evil than the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the people of Israel.”  This is bad! My first question: how can the son of a righteous king turn out to be the complete opposite of his father? He was raised in a palace where his father honored the Lord God of Judah! Clearly, man has to make his own choice in how he will live out his life. In spite of his God-fearing upbringing, Manasseh chose his own way.

In verse 10 the Lord speaks to Manasseh and his people. God was gracious to give them warning — a chance to confess and repent of their sin and place their faith in Him, but they ignored his warnings. The chapter goes on to tell us of the consequences of ignoring the grace of God. Verse 11 (ESV), “therefore the LORD brought upon them the commanders of the army of the king of Assyria, who captured Manasseh with hooks and bound him with chains of bronze and brought him to Babylon.” There are consequences to sin. We know this because we have experienced them. Too often we ignore the invitation to repent and keep living the way we want.

Well, Manasseh, the king who led Judah in sin “more evil than the nations” around them, called out to God. Verses 12-13 (ESV), “and when he was in distress, he entreated the favor of the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. He prayed to him, and God was moved by his entreaty and heard his plea and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God.” Note how he humbled himself and called out to God for favor. The heart of God was moved by his cry for mercy and delivered him.

The true evidence of his repentance was that he destroyed all the evil altars to foreign gods and the idol in the temple. Then he restored the altar of the Lord and encouraged the people to worship the God of Israel. You see more than ‘lip service’ from Manasseh here. You see actual repentance. ‘Turning from’, tearing down the idols of the past and ‘turning to’ the worship of the true God! You also see the mercy and grace of God who heard the prayer of humbled, repentant man, and gave him a second chance!

Today I praise God for His patience, mercy, and grace. Thank you, Lord, that you still desire to show your mercy and grace to those who are deeply lost in their sin. Lord, help us to repent and receive your mercy and grace.

In HIS hands,

Pastor Brian


As I look at the world today, I see leaders here in America and in other nations meeting and proposing plans and policy that they believe will bring needed change. Change that will be for the good and benefit of all. At times we sit back and hope that our leaders are acting on behalf of the people they represent. But what is all too often the case is most are more concerned about their own agenda – power and control. When selfish personal agenda is the driving force behind leadership, the inevitable result is conflict and failure.

At the close of 1 Chronicles we have recorded the ‘passing of the throne’ from David to Solomon. We get a look inside what happened and what was said. 1 Chronicles 28:4-5 (ESV) “Yet the LORD God of Israel chose me from all my father’s house to be king over Israel forever. For he chose Judah as leader, and in the house of Judah my father’s house, and among my father’s sons he took pleasure in me to make me king over all Israel. And of all my sons (for the LORD has given me many sons) he has chosen Solomon my son to sit on the throne of the kingdom of the LORD over Israel.”

Here David conveys what the Lord had told him and how someone from his family would sit on the throne in Israel forever. Solomon would be the son of David that God had chosen to carry the kingdom forward. David gives him instruction to “start off on the right foot”.

1 Chronicles 28:8-9 (ESV) “Now therefore in the sight of all Israel, the assembly of the LORD, and in the hearing of our God, observe and seek out all the commandments of the LORD your God, that you may possess this good land and leave it for an inheritance to your children after you forever. “And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever.”

Two parts of these verses stand out to me:

  • observe and seek out all the commandments of the LORD your God”
  • know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind”

 Pursue and know the law of God and pursue and know God. David was encouraging his son to not just know right from wrong but know God personally and completely. David did not brief him on foreign relations and domestic needs. His starting point was the honor of God’s Word and the pursuit of knowing God. An acknowledgement that the primary ingredient needed to be to lead well and experience the blessing of God.

The other event going on here was the building of the temple of God. Solomon was tasked by God to be the one who was to have the temple built in Jerusalem. Recorded here are the instructions and provisions that had been made for it to be constructed. As king, David led the way by giving of his own wealth to the project. He also called on the various leaders throughout the land to contribute and the response was very generous.

Following the offerings to the temple, David offered a prayer of praise! In it he gives praise to God for who He is and what He has done. In his praise, we see God put in His proper place.

1 Chronicles 29:10-16 (NLT) “Then David praised the LORD in the presence of the whole assembly: “O LORD, the God of our ancestor Israel, may you be praised forever and ever! Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O LORD, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things. Wealth and honor come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power and might are in your hand, and at your discretion people are made great and given strength.

  “O our God, we thank you and praise your glorious name! But who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us! We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace.
  “O LORD our God, even this material we have gathered to build a Temple to honor your holy name comes from you! It all belongs to you!”

I love what is contained in these verses! I love how David ends verse 16, “It all belongs to you!” He acknowledges God is the source of all things. He is the starting point for all of us. He is the foundation on which we build our lives, make our decisions, and live out our lives. Starting and staying there can only bring the blessing of the Lord to each of our lives. Oh, that leaders would turn and embrace this truth. For only then can we truly be a blessed people.

Walking with you,

Pastor Brian


Per my usual, I was recently reading, and the author mentioned how God had created man for relationship, then added that the Creator desires for His creation to be dependent on Him. As we have heard many times before, when Satan tempted Eve in the garden, he raised questions about whether or not we can trust God. Can we depend on God to be who He says He is? Can we depend on God to do what He said He will do? In this deception, two simple things happened to humanity: man doubted God’s sufficiency (Can God be trusted with all things?) and we began to believe our autonomy (We can do this on our own!).

Currently, we are in world that is in turmoil. A microscopic virus has been used to control mankind by creating fear in vast numbers of people. “Is it real? Is it as bad as they say?” These and other questions are constantly being debated and mentally processed by many of us. Then we have protests and riots against racism popping up all around the country. Often the results of these actions leave those who observe asking “What really is the point being made? What is really going on?” Never in the history of our country have we seen such times of protest, increased attempts to control, and widespread fear.

What is rising from the narrative though, is the ‘assurance of hope’. If we vote for “this candidate” all will be well, and humanity will be the better for it. What is clear is, both political parties feel they and their plans are the answer to a better America, a better world. Pride and self-righteousness fuel bold statements that will end up being empty promises of a ‘better tomorrow.’ If mankind places its complete hope in the abilities and promises of man, we are certainly a creation doomed to fail.

In her book, Stay Salt, Rebecca Manley Pippert writes an observation of Jesus’ temptation in Luke 4.

“It is almost impossible to appreciate the depth to which Jesus humbled himself by assuming our human nature. What Jesus shows us so very vividly is that we are created to be God-dependent, not self-sufficient. That is why Jesus was never ashamed by his dependence upon God. He wasn’t embarrassed that he needed to pray for guidance, or ashamed that he became tired or hungry—because that is what it means to be human.”

Thinking on this statement, I was reminded that Jesus Himself, God’s Son, was dependent on His Father. His dependence on His Father was the model of how life was intended to be lived.

So why do I have 2 Chronicles 7:11-22 listed as the passage of reference today? Well, in this passage is the well-known and often quoted verse 14 – “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” The setting is Solomon’s dedication of the newly build temple in Jerusalem.

Solomon brings the Ark of the Covenant back to rest in the temple and offers praise and prayer to the Lord. Verses 12-22 record God’s response. Here we see the promise of God to continue to keep the covenant He made David to continue to establish His throne as long as they did not abandon Him.

In verse 14 we see the God’s conditions for restoration of the nation: “humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways.” What is common with these conditions is they are all admitting insufficiency. If a person/people were to actually “do” this, it would be admitting “I/we cannot do this. Your ways are best. I/we are not autonomous from You.”

Perhaps you have just said an agreeable, “Amen! That’s right pastor! Yes, it’s what needs to happen in the lives of our leaders in this country.” But it is also what needs to happen in you and me – daily. Just as we would love to have those who lead us “humble themselves, pray, seek His face, and turn from their wicked ways”, the same is true for you and I – His people. Note the first three words in the same verse – “If my people.” 

People sometimes feel it is ‘weak’ to admit they need someone else to help them. Sometimes we don’t want others to think we are ‘not enough’ or we do not have the ability to do something. What I have learned and continue to learn is, in myself I am insufficient. But as the verse reminds us, “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength” – Philippians 4:13 (NLT). Paul is saying that He is also insufficient in himself to do what God has called him to. Only Christ is sufficient. 2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV) “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” This verse is so counter intuitive to our human way of thinking. But it is the key to true joy and success in life!

Yes, as His people, let us pray for our leaders in government and that they would repent and look to the Lord. But let us also take to heart these truths personally each day. Why? We were not made to be independent from, but dependent on God.

Walking with you,

Pastor Brian


As we have seen in the current sermon series on the Gospel of Mark, Jesus was a man that was quite different than we are. He was unlike other teachers and prophets that had come before Him. Since He walked on this earth, there still has been no one quite like Him. As we have seen, Mark wrote his account of the gospel to give evidence that Jesus Christ was the Son of God (1:1). He wrote of the many miracles and healings that He had done.

Unlike other great teachers in history, Jesus gave evidence that He was more than just another man with intriguing thoughts and ideas. He was the ‘God-man’ sent with more than teachings on ‘how to live a better life’. Mark 10:45 (ESV) tells us, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Note the underlying focus. Jesus was ‘others-oriented’. Deeper still, the reason for this – man is in need. Why else would Jesus come to serve, and give His life as a ransom?

What we have seen in the Gospel of Mark is Jesus’ example of being ‘others oriented’. Not just for those of us here on earth. But He came as part of His Father’s plan of salvation for mankind. And what motivated Him? Love.

As His children, we are called to live our lives ‘others-oriented’ as Jesus did – for the glory of God and for the salvation of others. This morning I read and reflected on these articles and I want you to take time to do the same.

Do You Orient Yourself to Others?

I Was Far Too Easily Pleased

Walking with you,

Pastor Brian


As I finished 1 Kings and moved into 2 Kings, I recently read through chapter 5. The chapter tells the story of the commander of King Aram’s army, Naaman. For Carmela and I, this story brings back a time in our lives where God used this story to give us a word about obedience.

It was the early 90s and we were serving in ministry in Georgia. At that point, God had blessed us with two boys. They were born a little over 13 months apart and it was almost like raising twins! I don’t remember the exact year, but they boys were about 3 and 4 years old. Philip was our oldest son and Nathan was the younger of the two.

As they grew, it was quite clear that Nathan’s legs were abnormally bowed. Yes, at that age he loved wearing his cowboy hat, his vest and cowboy boots, but his legs were starting to look like he was “born on a horse”. We had concerns and began to pray about what to do. We were living on a limited income and there were a lot of unknowns.

Later, we spent time on vacation with our families in Florida. After all, that’s what you do when you only see them a couple of times a year. While at Carmela’s parent’s house, their neighbor made a comment about Nathan’s bowed legs. She said, “He needs to have braces on his legs and go to therapy.” Her comments were heard because, well, she worked with children as a physical therapist. Her concern added to our concerns.

Well, what should we do? We had been seeking the Lord. Now he put someone in our path who confirmed the need. We knew we should seek the Lord first and wait for his leading.

One Sunday morning a few weeks later, Carmela’s parents had come to see us. It was over a weekend. As I had been in the Word, I was convinced that we should speak with the Senior Pastor and arrange for Nathan to be anointed by the elders following the morning service. I spoke with him and he said they would be happy to, following the service that day. By the way, Carmela’s father was also an elder in his church.

After the singing, the pastor got up to preach. His message, unknown to me, was from 2 Kings 5 – The healing of Naaman. Now I had heard many messages on God’s healing power but this time it was different. In that moment, as I sat there and listened, the Lord spoke to me ‘loud and clear’, “Obey and have Nathan anointed today.” Tears streamed down my face as I listened to the pastor and the Lord that day. It was clear that we must follow the Lord in obedience.

After the service, the elders came forward and my father-in-law joined us. Carmela went and got Nathan from children’s church and brought him to be anointed and prayed for. A sense of peace came over us as we obeyed the Lord and believed the Lord could heal our son.

After we anointed and prayed together over him, nothing instantaneously happened. But we were confident that we had brought him in faith and obedience as the Lord asked. It would be over the next 9 months that we would see God gradually straighten Nathan’s legs. To God be the glory!

As I read through 2 Kings 5, yes it brought back a special memory for me. In the story, Naaman suffered from leprosy. A simple young servant girl spoke to Naaman’s wife. 2 Kings 5:3b (NLT) “I wish my master would go to see the prophet in Samaria. He would heal him of his leprosy.”

After trying to follow through with the King of Israel, Naaman told the King to send Naaman to him. 2 Kings 5:9-11 (NLT) “So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and waited at the door of Elisha’s house.  But Elisha sent a messenger out to him with this message: “Go and wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored, and you will be healed of your leprosy.”  But Naaman became angry and stalked away. “I thought he would certainly come out to meet me!” he said. “I expected him to wave his hand over the leprosy and call on the name of the LORD his God and heal me!”

 Naaman had a way he expected the healing to be done. He did not like Elisha’s response and directive. We find out later, that not until he humbled himself and obeyed ‘the man of God’s directives’ would he be healed.

That was the lesson we learned as well: Humble ourselves and obey what the Lord asks of us. Of course, we also learned that God is the healer!

How often do we readily, humbly obey God even when it isn’t to our liking? Sometimes it doesn’t even seem to make sense to us. But as scripture often illustrates, what God asks does not have to make sense. He simply asks that we humble ourselves and obey what He asks of us.

Walking with you,

Pastor Brian


We are near the end of 1 Kings. Chapter 21 contains one of the last recorded assignments from God that Elijah carried out. Again, we are reading about King Ahab who was amazed at God’s display on Mt. Carmel that resulted in Him bringing rain and an end to a three-year drought. He saw the God of the Israelites on display and yet again, we see Ahab back to his old ways. Of course, with his godless, wicked wife Jezebel still on the scene, living for one’s own desires no matter the cost would again be the way life was lived in the palace. How quickly man forgets God.

Let’s start in verse 1 to establish the setting, “Now there was a man named Naboth, from Jezreel, who owned a vineyard in Jezreel beside the palace of King Ahab of Samaria. One day Ahab said to Naboth, ‘Since your vineyard is so convenient to my palace, I would like to buy it to use as a vegetable garden. I will give you a better vineyard in exchange, or if you prefer, I will pay you for it.’” (1 Kings 21:1-2, NLT)  Ok seems fair.  Ahab made Naboth a fair offer for his vineyard.  Going on in verse 3, “But Naboth replied, ‘The LORD forbid that I should give you the inheritance that was passed down by my ancestors’” Basically, Naboth refused to sell because He was honoring the Lord’s Word (Leviticus 25; Numbers 36:7-9). In his heart Ahab was really coveting Naboth’s property. We will see this play out as the story continues.

Ahab returned home angry. He even refused to eat! I kind of picture him stewing, steaming, and pouting because he didn’t get what he wanted. He ‘wanted what he wanted!’

Well, as you would expect, his wife, Jezebel, asks him why he is so upset. Ahab tells her what happened and how Naboth refused his offer to buy the vineyard. Jezebel’s response? Perhaps it was, ‘Now, I am sure you can find another property to buy for your garden.  It’s not the end of the world.’ No, that was not her response. Verse 7, “Are you the king of Israel or not?” Jezebel demanded. “Get up and eat something, and don’t worry about it. I’ll get you Naboth’s vineyard!”

Imagine that. She was as greedy, self-centered, and arrogant as Ahab was! The difference? She was not going to take “no” for an answer. What a pair!

Scripture records in verses 8-14 Jezebel’s scheme that she devised to get Naboth’s land. Interesting what someone will do when they are driven by their selfish, greedy desires. She arranged for false witnesses to accuse Naboth of “cursing God and the king” Of course, the story was fabricated to get Naboth killed and out of their way.

When the news of Naboth’s death reached Jezebel, verses 15-16 (NLT) tell us she said to Ahab, “You know the vineyard Naboth wouldn’t sell you? Well, you can have it now! He’s dead!” So Ahab immediately went down to the vineyard of Naboth to claim it.” 

No hesitation. No questions asked. He took it for his own.

Being fully aware of what was happening, God then said to the prophet Elijah, (vs. 18-19, NLT) “Go down to meet King Ahab of Israel, who rules in Samaria. He will be at Naboth’s vineyard in Jezreel, claiming it for himself. Give him this message: ‘This is what the LORD says: Wasn’t it enough that you killed Naboth? Must you rob him, too? Because you have done this, dogs will lick your blood at the very place where they licked the blood of Naboth!’” Standing for the truth in a difficult situation. God needed Elijah to stand in the gap for the truth and confront the evil of Ahab and Jezebel.

Of course, when Elijah arrived, Ahab had his typical response, “So my enemy you have found me!” Almost like he knew Elijah would eventually come. Elijah conveyed the message of the Lord concerning the destruction of Ahab’s family for the evil they had carried out against Naboth.

As I was reading this chapter, I was actually quite surprised by Ahab’s response – he recognized his sin, mourned, and humbled himself before God. God held off the immediate punishment and spared his family for the moment. The grace of God on display.

There are many things we could learn from this passage. What I want you to take away is, ‘God has the final word… always.’ He is just and will punish sin. A holy God must, or He would not be truly holy. But He will also be gracious if there is confession and repentance. Why? Because He is loving and wants man to come to repentance.

In the uncertain and evil days in which we live. When it seems the world has ‘gone crazy’ and is rebelling against its Creator (when it comes down to it), God is gracious and slow to anger. He desires that man be saved. Possible even in the darkest of times. But if man does not turn to Him, He will still have the final word and sin will be punished. For that we can be sure.

Walking with you,

Pastor Brian


Many of us are familiar with this passage of scripture. You know, the one where Elijah challenges King Ahab and the prophets of Baal. Elijah’s initial meeting with Ahab was interesting. 1 Kings 18:17-18 (NLT) “When Ahab saw him, he exclaimed, “So, is it really you, you troublemaker of Israel?” “I have made no trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “You and your family are the troublemakers, for you have refused to obey the commands of the LORD and have worshiped the images of Baal instead.

What is somewhat comical, is what Ahab calls Elijah, “troublemaker of Israel”. Elijah’s response is, “No, you and your family are troublemakers.” Remember, Ahab is a wicked, evil king. He kills people for saying the wrong things. Elijah’s bold response must have been quite unexpected. He not only tells them he and his family are the troublemakers. He tells them why: “You have refused to obey the commands of the LORD and have worshiped the images of Baal instead.” (v. 18b)

 Elijah is now taking the ‘bull by the horns’ and gives instruction to Ahab. Verse 19, “Now summon all Israel to join me at Mount Carmel, along with the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah who are supported by Jezebel.” Surprisingly, Ahab does what Elijah tells him. When all the people and prophets were there at Mt. Carmel, Elijah stepped forward and, as they say, ‘draws a line in the sand’. Verse 21, “Then Elijah stood in front of them and said, “How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!” But the people were completely silent.”

Interesting comment. In verse 22, Elijah says, “I am the only prophet of the Lord who is left.” Now if you were to base your decision on who wins this battle on the number of prophets, Elijah would have been soundly defeated. There were 450 prophets of Baal and 1 prophet of the Lord. But because we know the “rest of the story”, we also know that Elijah, the “1 prophet”, wins this altercation. Why? Because victory is not based on what the crowd says or what man-made solutions have been devised. One real and living God, and one man who is willing to trust God, will always win.

What is funny is, there is no real ‘battle of the Gods’ here. We know there is only one real God and all others are made up in the minds of men. Deuteronomy 4:35 (NLT) “He showed you these things so you would know that the LORD is God and there is no other.” Then in John 10:30 (NLT) Jesus declares, “The Father and I are one.”

As the story goes, the prophets of Baal go to great extremes to get their ‘god’ to burn the wood and bulls on their altar. They danced, cut themselves, and shouted from morning until noon. Nothing. No response. Verse 27 is quite daring, “About noontime Elijah began mocking them. “You’ll have to shout louder,” he scoffed, “for surely he is a god! Perhaps he is daydreaming, or is relieving himself. Or maybe he is away on a trip, or is asleep and needs to be wakened!” Oh my!  Elijah is too funny! “Maybe your god is daydreaming… relieving himself… on a trip… or asleep.” They continued to call on their ‘god’ until evening, but no response.

In the meantime, Elijah makes his altar with wood and bulls as well, and then douses it with water. What confidence Elijah has in God! We then read when the altar was ready, Elijah prayed. 1 Kings 18:36b-38 (NLT) “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, prove today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant. Prove that I have done all this at your command. O LORD, answer me! Answer me so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God and that you have brought them back to yourself.” Immediately the fire of the LORD flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull, the wood, the stones, and the dust. It even licked up all the water in the trench!”

God showed up and removed all doubt in the minds of those present, who was really God! Verse 39, “And when all the people saw it, they fell face down on the ground and cried out, “The LORD—he is God! Yes, the LORD is God!” The evidence for the real God was strong and clear!

So, in your ‘day to day’ life, how is your faith in God? Are their times when you get distracted by the troubles of life and this world and lose sight of God? Do you then look for the solutions the world offers and leave God out of the equation? I love this story of Elijah because we see bold, confident faith in God! We see faith in God displayed in how Elijah proceeds in life. We see His confidence in God when the odds seem overwhelming. Let me ask again, how is your faith in God? Are you dedicated to the Lord no matter what? Is it evident to those around you that you have faith in God?

Let me challenge you to reflect on the power of God. Reflect on what your life conveys about what you believe about God. Hopefully, like Elijah, your life clearly shows your faith and trust in the one true and living God!

Walking with you,

Pastor Brian


The country was divided. Opposition had risen against the house of Solomon after he died. Depending on who was king, God was either honored or evil was the rule of the day.

In 1 Kings 16:29 we are introduced to Ahab, son of Omri, who was king of Israel for 22 years. The scripture says in verse 30 (ESV) “And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD, more than all who were before him.” What a great thing to be said of someone and be recorded for everyone to read in God’s Word! If that was not enough, he married Jezebel of Sidon.

Samaria had been established as the capital city of Israel (Jerusalem was capital of Judah) and in the city Ahab built a temple for the god, Baal. He then put up an Asherah pole as an idol. It is thought that the Asherah was an idol to the goddess of fertility. Clearly the people had turned from the Creator God who had brought them out of Egypt to the promised land. They had resorted to worshipping the created instead of the Creator. The people throughout the area were far away from God.

As I read through this prelude to the introduction to the prophet Elijah, I reflected on the times in which we are currently living. It is clear there are some parallel issues: a divided country at odds with each other, God and His Word being pushed aside, the worship of created things, and so on. What can we learn about God and how He prepares us to stand for the truth in evil days?

Elijah stood on God’s Word facing the opposition. 1 Kings 17:1 (NLT) tells us, “Now Elijah, who was from Tishbe in Gilead, told King Ahab, “As surely as the LORD, the God of Israel, lives—the God I serve—there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word!” Imagine going to the leader who was the extreme opposite of everything you believed and proclaiming God’s Word. It would have been frightening, but ultimately Elijah was standing as an ambassador of the heavenly king who was above all.

Elijah stood before Ahab and delivered the Word of the Lord just as God had asked.

After Elijah spoke to Ahab, the Lord provided a place for him to hide by Kerith Brook. In this time, we see God providing for Elijah’s safety and sustaining his life with food and water. In time, the brook dried up due to the lack of rain. What now? God would use this time at Kerith brook to ‘cut down’ or humble Elijah so that he would fully trust Him. This was part of the training in becoming a man of God.

Have we seen God work in this way in our lives? You know, where He called us to something and then took us through a difficult time where we had to trust Him completely. Yes, God protected and provided for Elijah, but He also wanted to train him to become a true man of God.

As we will see in the story of Elijah, God trains and tests us to build our faith so that we will represent Him well. In the training and testing, we learn who God is, what He can do, and that we can truly trust Him.

Yes, following Jesus will have great challenges. We will face opposition for being a Christian and what we believe. But we are also called to represent Jesus. We are His ambassadors with the message of truth – the gospel. In the hard times that we live in, a line is being drawn in the sand – who is on the Lord’s side? God is calling those who are truly His own to be light in the darkness. He wants us to represent Him well. Why? The days are evil and the hope of God must be displayed!

Walking with you,

Pastor Brian


When just recently reading through this section of 1 Kings, a statement I had heard at one time came to mind – ‘When we make our own rules, we go our own way. That always leads to disaster’. It is what we see in our own lives when we choose to follow our own selfish desires. It is what see when others disregard the law and let their evil desires determine their actions. When we ignore God, His Word, and His ways, our lives will always end up in disaster

Thomas George, our district superintendent, uses a statement he has been proclaiming at pretty much every district gathering in recently times. It goes like this – “You were made by Him, for Him, and for His glory!” It is a reminder of who made us and for what purpose. The problem with man? When we lose sight of that reality, we fall again into sin. And sin leads to nothing but disaster.

Last time I wrote, we saw in 1 Kings 3 thatSolomon loved the LORD and followed all the decrees of his father, David.”  (v. 3a, NLT). Therefore, God spoke to him in a dream and told him to ask for whatever he wanted, and He would give it to him. As we discovered, Solomon asked for wisdom and God greatly blessed him with unusual wisdom. He asked for something that would help him discern right from wrong in governing God’s people. In the next few chapters, we see evidence of Solomon’s great wisdom in dealing with difficult decisions and in the process of building the temple for the Lord.

In chapter 8, we see Solomon summoning the elders to bring the Ark of the Covenant to the temple in Jerusalem and leading the people in songs of praise to the Lord! Later in the chapter we see written Solomon’s prayer of dedication of the temple and later in chapter 9, the Lord’s response. For Solomon, life is great, and he is honoring the Lord with what God has blessed him with.

Then we come to chapters 10 & 11. Just when everything was going great, something started to change. Solomon’s image was known far and wide. With acclaim and great wealth, often comes pride and self-confidence. Or as I mentioned before, ‘making our own rules’, leads to ‘going our own way’. Then chapter 11. Yep chapter 11. It starts, “Now King Solomon loved many foreign women (NLT). You may ask, “What’s wrong with that?” Verses 2 & 3 tell us – “The LORD had clearly instructed the people of Israel, ‘You must not marry them, because they will turn your hearts to their gods.’ Yet Solomon insisted on loving them anyway. He had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines. And in fact, they did turn his heart away from the LORD.” (NLT)  Later in the chapter we see God’s response, “the LORD was very angry with Solomon, for his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice” (v. 9, NLT)

Now sometimes we have done something we were told specifically not to do. The consequences were not too severe. Perhaps we can all remember a time in our childhood when our parents told us specifically not to do something, and we did it anyway. The consequences may not have changed the complete course of our lives. But there have been many other times when the consequences had a much greater effect on our lives and the lives of others. Those are the times when the statement I shared can be clearly seen. Choosing our own way instead of God’s has devastating results.

In the second half of chapter 11, after Solomon turned from God to his own desires (own ways & rules), we start to see the beginning of the division of Israel. Hadad, Jeroboam, and other royal officials rose up and rebelled against Solomon. It took the prophet Ahijah to send a word from God through Jeroboam to Solomon to get his attention. Eventually, the people of Israel were again divided into two separate kingdoms, Israel and Judah. Jeroboam then is made king of Israel and from the advice of his counselors, made idols of gold to worship instead of worshiping the one true God.

All because of Solomon choosing his own way over God’s.

When we lose sight of why we were created – “made by Him, for Him, and for His glory” – the disaster becomes the path that we chose without Him. But praise God it does not have to end there!

Titus 3:4-7 (NLT) “But—When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.”

Rejoice in His grace!

Walking with you,

Pastor Brian


Do you remember the television series “Extreme Makeover Home Edition?” The show aired its first episode in 2003 and by the second season over 15 million viewers tuned in each Sunday night to watch. The basic premise was taking the home of a family who had gone through difficulty or hard times, and totally remodeling it. Led by host Ty Pennington, a team from the community in which the family resided would be assembled and charged with doing the work of transforming the chosen family’s home. When the work was completed, the show ended with ‘revealing’ the work – the finished product!

I enjoyed watching the show each week and thought the effort of bringing people together to help another family in need was commendable.  If I am honest though, at times it also left me wishing for a nicer, newer home!

Here in 1 Kings 3, Solomon has finished establishing his rule. His father, David, had given him wise counsel. We see that in 2:3-4 (NLT) “Observe the requirements of the LORD your God, and follow all his ways. Keep the decrees, commands, regulations, and laws written in the Law of Moses so that you will be successful in all you do and wherever you go. If you do this, then the LORD will keep the promise he made to me. He told me, ‘If your descendants live as they should and follow me faithfully with all their heart and soul, one of them will always sit on the throne of Israel.’”

Initially Solomon follows David’s advice and begins to ‘set up house’ as king of Israel. In the remaining part of chapter 2, Solomon deals with some of those who were trouble for his father. He wants to begin his reign well. Then in chapter 3 we read about the Lord appearing to Solomon in a dream. Let’s pick it up in verse 5:

   “That night the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream, and God said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!”
   Solomon replied, “You showed faithful love to your servant my father, David, because he was honest and true and faithful to you. And you have continued your faithful love to him today by giving him a son to sit on his throne.
   “Now, O LORD my God, you have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around. And here I am in the midst of your own chosen people, a nation so great and numerous they cannot be counted! Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?”
   The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom.”

Wow! Does that surprise you? He did not ask for any material possession. He didn’t ask for a better __________ (you fill in the blank). He didn’t ask for wealth or power. He asked for wisdom.

As I read through this chapter the other day, I reflected on Solomon’s request. We live in a world today that is always telling us we can have more, we deserve more – why? Because having more will make our life better and more complete!

If we look around us though, that message is not true. More possessions, wealth, and power do not truly give us a ‘better’ life. Solomon asked for a more important ingredient for a better life. Verse 9 “Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong.”

 What matters most, when it comes to a better life, is honoring God. And to honor God we need to value Him most by living life guided by His truth. “Lord Jesus, may we find our life in You and Your truth. May we be reminded that the things of this world hold little value in eternity.”

Walking with you,

Pastor Brian