All the King's Choices

The Danger of Disobedience, 28 July 2019

The Danger of Disobedience
Series—All The King’s Choices
2 Kings 25:1-21

Big Idea:
Our actions have consequences, and disobedience can be dangerous…even deadly.

Every parent’s favorite verse can be found in the book of Ephesians, where Paul writes,

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. (Ephesians 6:1)

Paul repeated the command when writing to the church in Colossi:

Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. (Colossians 3:20)

Of course, obedience is not only for children. Jesus said plainly,

“If you love me, keep my commands. (John 14:15)

Do you love Jesus? Prove it…by your obedience.

We’ve been looking at various kings in our series “All The King’s Choices.” Last week during our study of King Josiah, we noted

Humbly Obeying God’s Word is the true path to success and satisfaction.

God blessed the (few) good kings of Israel and Judah, but the fate of those who rejected God was quite different as we’ll see today. God warned them, as far back as Moses in Deuteronomy chapter 28. Quite simply,

Our actions have consequences, and disobedience can be dangerous…even deadly.

Before we look at today’s text, I want to set the scene for you. You may remember when God led the people into the Promised Land, he gave them occupancy on one condition: their obedience. As we have seen, most of the kings were evil, leading to their downfall. Nebuchadnezzar has come against Judah, the southern kingdom of the Jewish people. He invaded in 605 BC, taking more than 3000 captive including Daniel. Eleven years later, he took 832 captives back to Babylon. He takes Jehoiachin captive and in 2 Kings 24:17, we’re told of King Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon,

He made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, king in his place and changed his name to Zedekiah. (2 Kings 24:17)

Nebuchadnezzar was quite the king! He replaces one king with another and then changes his name. I can’t even imagine ruling over another king!

Do you remember good king Josiah from last Sunday? Zedekiah is the third and final son of Josiah’s to rule Judah, yet he was nothing like his godly father. Zedekiah reigned for ten years with self-interest, indecisiveness, brutality, and self-preservation which led him to form an alliance with Egypt to rebel against Babylon. Chapter 24 is filled with the evil ways of not only Zedekiah but Jehoiakim and Jehoiachin before him.

It was because of the LORD’S anger that all this happened to Jerusalem and Judah, and in the end he thrust them from his presence.

Now Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon. (2 Kings 24:20)

2 Kings chapter 25 begins in 586 BC.

So in the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign, on the tenth day of the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched against Jerusalem with his whole army. He encamped outside the city and built siege works all around it. The city was kept under siege until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah. (2 Kings 25:1-2)

The details of the date show reveal the importance of this event. This is the beginning of the end for the holy city of Jerusalem.

By the ninth day of the fourth month the famine in the city had become so severe that there was no food for the people to eat. (2 Kings 25:3)

It got so bad that parents ate their own children (Lamentations 2:20; 4:9-10)!

Then the city wall was broken through, and the whole army fled at night through the gate between the two walls near the king’s garden, though the Babylonians were surrounding the city. They fled toward the Arabah, but the Babylonian army pursued the king and overtook him in the plains of Jericho. All his soldiers were separated from him and scattered, and he was captured. (2 Kings 25:4-6a)

This scene seems so distant from the world in which we live. Of course, there are many wars raging around the world right now, but the warfare methods were obviously more primitive than the high tech battles of today. There was a wall around the city of Jerusalem—there is a newer one there today—and the wall was penetrated. The people were starving, the king and his army flee the city, the soldiers are scattered, and king Zedekiah is captured. It wasn’t enough that he rebelled against God…he revolted against King Nebuchadnezzar, his boss.

This is not a good day, yet it was avoidable. It was all the result of disobedience. In fact, Jeremiah predicted Jerusalem would fall, yet the people just hated the prophet for speaking the truth.

Our actions have consequences, and disobedience can be dangerous…

King Zedekiah is captured and then

He was taken to the king of Babylon at Riblah, where sentence was pronounced on him. They killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes. Then they put out his eyes, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon. (2 Kings 25:6b-7)

Can you imagine anything worse?

I’ve been told the hardest thing in the world is to lose a child. I know some of you have had that experience and my heart grieves for you.

This king not only loses a child, he loses his sons. Furthermore, they are killed in front of him. If that’s not bad enough, then they put out his eyes, bind him, and carry him to Babylon. The last thing Zedekiah ever saw was the execution of his sons!

One of the most common questions is why bad things happen to good people. There’s little wonder why bad things happen to bad people, or at least disobedience people. This invasion didn’t just happen. This was not an ordinary war. It was the result of rebellion and defiance against Almighty God by Zedekiah and most of his predecessors.

Sometimes people blame God for their pain and suffering, and in this case it would be justified. God allowed this catastrophe to happen, but it wasn’t because He was being mean. He was being just. His wrath is real because He hates sin. He despises disobedience. Is anybody listening? Clearly King Zedekiah wasn’t listening.

But there’s more!

On the seventh day of the fifth month, in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard, an official of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. He set fire to the temple of the LORD, the royal palace and all the houses of Jerusalem. Every important building he burned down. (2 Kings 25:8-9)

Again, we’re told the exact day, one which would live in infamy. The holy temple where the presence of God dwelled was destroyed by fire along with virtually every building in the city, including the king’s palace which stood for nearly 400 years.

I’ve read about the Great Chicago Fire and it was nothing like this! This wasn’t just any city. It wasn’t any temple. Jerusalem was leveled! False prophets said it could never happen, but they couldn’t have been more wrong.

On a side note, I wonder what God thinks of our nation. After all, our money says, “In God we trust,” but it seems like we trust money more than God. We are not Israel and the promises made to the Jews in the Old Testament do not apply to us, but it seems like God has been exceptionally merciful with our country. Some say it’s because we’re friends with Israel. Maybe it’s because there remains a remnant of USAmericans who
are obedient to God’s commands to love Him, love their neighbors as themselves, and make disciples. I’m not certain, but I do know no place is beyond God’s blessing or judgment. I’m reminded of Psalm 139:

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you. (Psalms 139:7-12)

This is comforting…for the one who is faithful to God. It is quite frightening for the one who is running from God.

The whole Babylonian army under the commander of the imperial guard broke down the walls around Jerusalem. Nebuzaradan the commander of the guard carried into exile the people who remained in the city, along with the rest of the populace and those who had deserted to the king of Babylon. But the commander left behind some of the poorest people of the land to work the vineyards and fields. (2 Kings 25:10-12)

Nearly every person is taken to Babylon. Only the poorest remained to maintain the land. We’re still not finished!

The Babylonians broke up the bronze pillars, the movable stands and the bronze Sea that were at the temple of the LORD and they carried the bronze to Babylon. They also took away the pots, shovels, wick trimmers, dishes and all the bronze articles used in the temple service. The commander of the imperial guard took away the censers and sprinkling bowls—all that were made of pure gold or silver. (2 Kings 25:13-15)

These were sacred tools used for worship, removed before the temple was burned into a pile of rubble.

Jerusalem has been turned into rubble nearly thirty times throughout history. After each destruction, it is rebuilt upon the remains of the past cities. This is why archaeology is such a challenging task. Many ancient cities are buried twenty, thirty, or more than forty feet underground! There are actually cities on top of cities on top of cities!

The bronze from the two pillars, the Sea and the movable stands, which Solomon had made for the temple of the LORD, was more than could be weighed. Each pillar was eighteen cubits high. The bronze capital on top of one pillar was three cubits high and was decorated with a network and pomegranates of bronze all around. The other pillar, with its network, was similar. (2 Kings 25:16-17)

There was so much copper they couldn’t weigh it! That’s incredible!

The commander of the guard took as prisoners Seraiah the chief priest, Zephaniah the priest next in rank and the three doorkeepers. Of those still in the city, he took the officer in charge of the fighting men, and five royal advisers. He also took the secretary who was chief officer in charge of conscripting the people of the land and sixty of the conscripts who were found in the city. (2 Kings 25:18-19)

The religious, military, and government leaders are taken as prisoners, but it would get even worse!

Nebuzaradan the commander took them all and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah. There at Riblah, in the land of Hamath, the king had them executed.

So Judah went into captivity, away from her land. (2 Kings 25:20-21)

There has rarely been a greater tragedy in the history of the world. And it was all the result of simple disobedience by the king and his subjects.

Our actions have consequences, and disobedience can be dangerous…even deadly.

I know you’re not a king. You probably wouldn’t be an evil king if you ever were to become a king or queen. This story happened thousands of years ago. How could this possibly be relevant to us in Toledo in 2019?

I’m glad you asked!

God never changes. He has always hated sin. He has always loved His children. He has always been omnipresent…everywhere at once. He has always been omnipotent…all-powerful. He has always been omniscient…all-knowing. He’s God!

Because we can’t see Him, sometimes we forget He’s here, with us, watching us. He’s not out to get us, but He does want us to get Him, to know Him, to obey Him, to love Him. He’s a good, good Father, but good fathers know they can’t let their kids run wild and do whatever they choose. They need guidance. They need discipline.

Whether it is an individual or a nation, He wants obedience. He knows what’s best for us. He can be trusted.

Countless research studies have shown most USAmericans believe in God, but what does that really mean? Satan believes in the existence of God (he used to work for Him), but he doesn’t trust God. He doesn’t follow God. He doesn’t humbly obey God.

Author Ruth Haley Barton (
Invitation to Silence and Solitude) gets to the point when she writes,

When it comes right down to it, many of us do not believe that God's intentions toward us are deeply good; instead we live in fear that that if we really trusted him, he might withhold something good from us.

Most of the kings of Israel and Judah rejected God, His wisdom, His commands, and His Word. They did so at their own peril.

I love you, church. I want what’s best for you. I want you to be successful. I want you to experience deep satisfaction. Lasting contentment will never come from your stock portfolio, car collection, job title, education, or even relationships. It only comes from loving God and loving others as we love ourselves. It comes from listening, reading, knowing, and obeying God’s Word. It comes from following Jesus…with our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

The message today is simple:
obey God!

We’ve all sinned. We’ve all messed up. So repent, do a 180, get rid of the sin, flee from the enemy and run to Jesus. His arms are wide open. No shame. Don’t wait another day. The Almighty is a God of justice, but He’s also filled with grace. Zedekiah had many chances to repent and God would’ve extended mercy, but he refused to obey God and suffered terribly.

Last Sunday I was overjoyed when more than one person told me they’re sick and tired of their sin. They said enough is enough! I praise God for their courage and obedience, because

Our actions have consequences, and disobedience can be dangerous…even deadly.

Most of us have no idea how harmful sin is in our lives, and we’re usually clueless about how our sin affects others…usually the ones we love the most.

On the flip side,

“Obedience is the burial of the will and the resurrection of humility.” – John Climacus

Humbly Obeying God’s Word is the true path to success and satisfaction.

You can say all you want to about our president or governor, Baby Boomers or Generation Z, the rich or the poor, the bottom line is one day you and I will stand before Almighty God and be judged for how we lived this one, precious life we’ve been given. I know it’s old school, but trust and obey God. You’ll never regret it!

You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.

Humbly Obeying God’s Word, 21 July 2019

Humbly Obeying God’s Word
Series—All The King’s Choices
2 Kings 22:1-20; 23:1-3, 21-25

Big Idea: Humbly Obeying God’s Word is the true path to success and satisfaction.

Success. It’s a word we hear almost every day. We see successful people on television. We hear successful people on the radio and on podcasts. We read books by successful people…who tell us how to be successful! We’re told the importance of being successful because, after all, what’s the opposite? Failure? Who wants that?

Satisfaction is another thing we seek. We hope it comes from being successful! Yet we know people who are successful are not always satisfied in their fame or fortune or whatever made them a success.

Is it possible to be successful and satisfied? If so, how?

This morning as we continue our series “All the King’s Choices,” we’re going to look at king who began his reign at the age of eight…and who humbly obeyed God’s word. I believe…

Humbly Obeying God’s Word is the true path to success and satisfaction.

Last week we looked at the good king Jehoshaphat who obeyed God and was blessed, but made one critical mistake in making alliances with the evil king Ahab which proved to be costly not only to him but also to his descendants. In 2 Kings chapter 21, we read of the death of King Amon, an evil king. Then in 2 Kings 22 we read,

Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. His mother’s name was Jedidah daughter of Adaiah; she was from Bozkath. He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and followed completely the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left. (2 Kings 22:1-2)

He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD. That’s what I want to be said of me. If you read through all of the kings, you’ll see Josiah is the exception, not the rule, tragically. He begins his reign at the ripe old age of eight! The book of 2 Chronicles tells us he began to seek after the LORD when he was 16. Fortunately, Josiah had good advisors.

In the eighteenth year of his reign, King Josiah sent the secretary, Shaphan son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, to the temple of the LORD. He said: (2 Kings 22:3)

“Go up to Hilkiah the high priest and have him get ready the money that has been brought into the temple of the LORD, which the doorkeepers have collected from the people. Have them entrust it to the men appointed to supervise the work on the temple. And have these men pay the workers who repair the temple of the LORD— the carpenters, the builders and the masons. Also have them purchase timber and dressed stone to repair the temple. But they need not account for the money entrusted to them, because they are honest in their dealings.” (2 Kings 22:4-7)

King Josiah, at age 26, tells his secretary to tell the high priest to go to the ATM, get a load of cash, and start fixing the temple! He’s the fourth and final king of Judah who made reforms, and his changes were more extensive than those of Asa, Jehoshaphat, and Hezekiah.

The temple of God had not only fallen into disrepair, it had been desecrated by Manasseh who used it for pagan images and altars. It was a mess!

Money had been collected for some time to repair the temple and now they had enough to get to the task.

Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the LORD.” He gave it to Shaphan, who read it. Then Shaphan the secretary went to the king and reported to him: “Your officials have paid out the money that was in the temple of the LORD and have entrusted it to the workers and supervisors at the temple.” (2 Kings 22:8-9)

This is written hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus and much of the writings we call the Bible (which is simply a collection of books). The Pentateuch—the five books of Moses—was available. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy are known as the Book of the Law because Moses wrote them to guide the people of Israel. It is also known as the Mosaic Law. These books—the first five in our Bible—are loaded with history, instructions, and stories. Most likely, this is what was discovered by Hilkiah.

It's hard to imagine the evil of previous kings, not only desecrating the temple but also destroying copies of the Book of the Law.

Evidently the Book of the Law was lost and, therefore, was not read or understood. The high priest finds it while they’re beginning to restore the temple.

Then Shaphan the secretary informed the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read from it in the presence of the king. (2 Kings 22:10)

This is a big deal! The existence of these sacred writings was known, but since it was lost, nobody knew its contents. For the first time in this generation, God’s Word—His will, commands, and plan—could be discovered.

When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes. He gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Akbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the king’s attendant: “Go and inquire of the LORD for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the LORD’S anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.” (2 Kings 22:11-13)

The king realizes the people have been disobedient and changes must be made immediately. It had obviously been some time since God’s Word had been read and understood, and now Josiah fears the anger of the LORD for the disobedience of the people.

Ignorantia juris non excusat

This Latin phrase means “ignorance of the law excuses not.”

God had punished evil kings for their disobedience, and now Josiah wants to put the nation on a new path, a new direction. He wants them to repent—to turn, to do a 180—and humbly obey God’s Word. The king knew

Humbly Obeying God’s Word is the true path to success and satisfaction.

Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Akbor, Shaphan and Asaiah went to speak to the prophet Huldah, who was the wife of Shallum son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe. She lived in Jerusalem, in the New Quarter. (2 Kings 22:14)

This woman seems to be highly regarded for her gift of prophecy. Why the priest didn’t consult other prophets such as Jeremiah, Zephaniah, Nahum, or Habakkuk is unknown. What we do know is this woman plays an important role in the spiritual revival lead by King Josiah.

She said to them, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Tell the man who sent you to me,

‘This is what the LORD says: I am going to bring disaster on this place and its people, according to everything written in the book the king of Judah has read. Because they have forsaken me and burned incense to other gods and aroused my anger by all the idols their hands have made, my anger will burn against this place and will not be quenched.’ (2 Kings 22:15-17)

God’s not happy, and if God’s not happy…!!!

You might know the first of the ten commandments is to have no other gods. The second is to have no idols. The people had violated both. Sin has its consequences and the wrath of God was coming for the nation, though it would come after Josiah died.

Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the LORD, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says concerning the words you heard: (2 Kings 22:18)

Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people—that they would become a curse
and be laid waste—and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I also have heard you, declares the LORD. Therefore I will gather you to your ancestors, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place.’ ”

So they took her answer back to the king. (2 Kings 22:19-20)

This is great news for Josiah!

Humbly Obeying God brings His blessing.

Who wants God’s blessing? It doesn’t happen automatically. God loves us all, but He can express His love—looking out for our best interest—a number of ways. When we obey, that often looks like blessings. When we disobey, that could mean loving discipline. In this case, God blessed Josiah with His mercy because he humbly obeyed God.

Then the king called together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. He went up to the temple of the LORD with the people of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests and the prophets—all the people from the least to the greatest. He read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant, which had been found in the temple of the LORD. The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the LORD—to follow the LORD and keep his commands, statutes and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book. Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant. (2 Kings 23:1-3)

Josiah wastes no time in proclaiming God’s covenant to people. They respond.

Our humble obedience can influence others.

(so can our disobedience!)

Sure, Josiah was the king and had just a bit of influence on the people, but notice that last sentence. All the people pledged themselves to the covenant.

I don’t think Josiah used force. He humbly obeyed—submitting himself to the LORD—and set an example for all the people to follow. He understood the source of true wisdom and the people were drawn to his humility and obedience. Are you known for your humility and obedience to God?

If we skip ahead, we see

Humble obedience requires action.

We must not merely agree with statements in a book, we must repent, turn away from our sin, and live God-honoring lives.

The king gave this order to all the people: “Celebrate the Passover to the LORD your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.” Neither in the days of the judges who led Israel nor in the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah had any such Passover been observed. But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah, this Passover was celebrated to the LORD in Jerusalem. (2 Kings 23:21-23)

Josiah didn’t just put an end to the idolatry that preceded him. He threw a massive party! Imagine the biggest New Year’s Eve in New York City times the Super Bowl Champion’s parade times…you get the idea! The king give orders to celebrate to the LORD, to reestablish the Passover, to remember what God did through Moses to lead the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt. This was Israel’s oldest feast, and 2 Chronicles (35:18) tells us people from both kingdoms—Judah and Israel—celebrated together in a massive feast!

Furthermore, Josiah got rid of the mediums and spiritists, the household gods, the idols and all the other detestable things seen in Judah and Jerusalem. This he did to fulfill the requirements of the law written in the book that Hilkiah the priest had discovered in the temple of the LORD. Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the LORD as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses. (2 Kings 23:24-25)

Humble obedience requires action. He didn’t ignore the false gods and the idols. He cleaned house. He dealt with sin. Household gods were purged. No other king more faithfully observed the Word of the LORD, including David and Solomon!

Perhaps there’s some sinful things in your life that need to be destroyed. Maybe it’s unhealthy entertainment. Uncontrolled anger. Greed. Gossip. It could be a relationship which is not glorifying to God. Perhaps it’s bitterness and unforgiveness. It might even be a sin of omission, failing to do something like generosity, compassion, or time with God. Whatever it is,
get rid of it! Today! Now! Tell a trusted friend to help you with the change.

The cause and effect between obedience and blessing could not be clearer.

So What?

The implications of this story should be obvious for us. Sure, we live in a different era. We are not kings. But the truth remains.

Humbly Obeying God’s Word is the true path to success and satisfaction.

Let’s unpack that statement.

Humbly. Humility is a rare character trait today. It doesn’t mean thinking less of yourself, but rather thinking of yourself less. The thing about God is He’s God…and we’re not! We sometimes want to be god. We sometimes act like we’re god. Comparing ourselves to God is like…ridiculous! This is the Creator of the universe!

God loves us. He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for us. But we’re not gods. We’re not in His league! We must always posture ourselves in humility before God.

Obey. Obedience is God’s love language. Talk is cheap, but obedience is real. Jesus said

“If you love me, keep my commands. (John 14:15)

Does that need any interpretation?!

God’s Word. This is not speaking of our leather-bound 66-book volume called the Bible. It didn’t exist at the time of this writing. The people had portions of what we call the Old Testament…on scrolls. As we learned today, those scrolls were sometimes lost or hidden.

God’s Word can include the Bible, but it also includes the promptings of the Holy Spirit. The real Word is Jesus.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)

Jesus is the Word of God. It’s stated again in Revelation:

He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. (Revelation 19:13)

We don’t worship the Bible. We worship Jesus. The Bible is how we learn about Jesus and God’s commands for our lives, but Jesus is the Word of God.

Humbly Obeying God’s Word is the true path to success and satisfaction.

I’m not pushing religion on you. There’s no guilt or shame. I simply want to encourage you to trust God and obey. There’s no greater wisdom. There’s no great power. There’s nothing more timeless.

I’m making an assumption that you trust God, at least you trust His wisdom more than your own. At least sometimes!

Countless research studies have shown most USAmericans believe in God, but what does that really mean? Satan believes in the existence of God (he used to work for Him), but he doesn’t trust God. He doesn’t follow God. He doesn’t humbly obey God.

Author Ruth Haley Barton (
Invitation to Silence and Solitude) gets to the point when she writes,

When it comes right down to it, many of us do not believe that God's intentions toward us are deeply good; instead we live in fear that that if we really trusted him, he might withhold something good from us.

Most of the kings of Israel and Judah rejected God, His wisdom, His commands, and His Word. They did so at their own peril. Josiah, on the other hand, trusted God, humbly obeyed Him, led the people to do so, and God blessed them as a result.

As I said last week, God’s blessing doesn’t always mean we’ll be happy and comfortable, but it does mean we’ll experience His presence and power, His peace, and His joy, even in the midst of life’s storms.

I love you, church. I want what’s best for you. I want you to be successful. I want you to experience deep satisfaction. Lasting contentment will never come from your stock portfolio, car collection, job title, education, or even relationships. It only comes from loving God and loving others as we love ourselves. It comes from listening, reading, knowing, and obeying God’s Word. It comes from following Jesus…with our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.

Choose Wisely, 14 July 2019

Choose Wisely
Series—All The King’s Choices
2 Chronicles 17:3-13; 18:1; 21:1-6; 22:1-12

Big Idea:
Our daily choices create the future for us…and sometimes others, too.

Choices. We love choices…until we don’t!

One of my undergrad degrees was in marketing, and since college I’ve been fascinated by brands, products, and the ways in which companies sell their goods and services. A quick walk through any Meijer, Super WalMart, or Kroger Marketplace store would be enough to convince you that we love choices. Do we need dozens of different toothpastes, types of milk, brands of orange juice, or varieties of pop?

Aldi thinks not! If you’ve ever been there, you have almost no choices to make. If you want peanut butter or granola bars or ice cream you don’t have to spend hours deciding which one to purchase. You usually have one option!

Life, of course, is far more complicated than a trip to the grocery store. We make decisions from the moment we wake up in the morning until we begin to drift off to sleep. We make choices about what we wear, eat, and drink. We have to decide how we spend our time and money. Our cell phones are loaded with apps inviting us to spend time reading, writing, and playing.

No wonder we’re so busy and stressed!

One of the most important things I told my children was, “You are your friends.
Choose wisely.” Today we’re talking choices in our series “All The King’s Choices” and my simple message to you is make wise choices, because

Our daily choices create the future for us…and sometimes others, too.

The Bible is packed with historic stories of people who made good and bad choices. It’s easy for us to see the good from the bad because we have the benefit of looking back at their lives and the consequences of their actions. If only we could get a sneak preview of the outcomes of our choices!

Our daily choices create the future for us…and sometimes others, too.

Today we’re going to look at a few passages from the book of 2 Chronicles, found in the Old Testament or what we might call the Jewish Bible. It tells the story of several kings, beginning with Solomon.

If you’ve ever read the books of Kings and Chronicles, you’ll almost certainly see a pattern emerge. The pattern goes something like this:

God blesses the kings who follow God.
God does not bless the kings who ignore God.

Unfortunately, most of the kings of Israel ignored God…and they paid dearly for their disobedience. You would think with the history of these kings recorded, new kings would want to learn from the predecessors.


They often responded the same way we tend to deal with tragedy.

“It will never happen to me.”
“I’m different.”
“I’m special.”
“You don’t understand.”

The older I get, the more I see this story repeat itself. We’re tempted to see ourselves as the exception to the rule.

“If you don’t get to bed soon, you’ll be sorry in the morning.”
“Be careful who you date because they might become your spouse someday.”

Here’s one I still struggle with:

“Make sure you leave a few minutes early in case there’s traffic.”

We all learn from mistakes: ours or the mistakes of others. In the book of 2 Chronicles, we see Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, the southern kingdom which was vulnerable to attacks by the northern kingdom of Israel.

In chapter 17, it says,

The LORD was with Jehoshaphat because he followed the ways of his father David before him. He did not consult the Baals but sought the God of his father and followed his commands rather than the practices of Israel. (2 Chronicles 17:3-4)

Was Jehoshaphat a good king or a bad king? A good one. He followed the ways of David who was a man after God’s own heart. He sought God rather than idols. He followed God rather than the people. What’s the result?

The LORD established the kingdom under his control; and all Judah brought gifts to Jehoshaphat, so that he had great wealth and honor. His heart was devoted to the ways of the LORD; furthermore, he removed the high places and the Asherah poles from Judah. (2 Chronicles 17:5-6)

An Asherah pole was a sacred pole or tree that was used to worship the pagan goddess Asherah. The Israelites were drawn away from their worship of the one true God to the worship of the false gods of other nations after they entered the land of Canaan.

In other words, Jehoshaphat cleans house and reinstitutes the worship of YHVH, the LORD God almighty.

In the third year of his reign he sent his officials Ben-Hail, Obadiah, Zechariah, Nethanel and Micaiah to teach in the towns of Judah. With them were certain Levites—Shemaiah, Nethaniah, Zebadiah, Asahel, Shemiramoth, Jehonathan, Adonijah, Tobijah and Tob-Adonijah—and the priests Elishama and Jehoram. They taught throughout Judah, taking with them the Book of the Law of the LORD; they went around to all the towns of Judah and taught the people. (2 Chronicles 17:7-9)

Teaching was extremely important, especially before technologies like the printing press, to say nothing of the Internet!

What is the result of the king’s obedience to God?

The fear of the LORD fell on all the kingdoms of the lands surrounding Judah, so that they did not go to war against Jehoshaphat. Some Philistines brought Jehoshaphat gifts and silver as tribute, and the Arabs brought him flocks: seven thousand seven hundred rams and seven thousand seven hundred goats. (2 Chronicles 17:10-11)

That’s a lot of animals!

Jehoshaphat became more and more powerful; he built forts and store cities in Judah and had large supplies in the towns of Judah. He also kept experienced fighting men in Jerusalem. (2 Chronicles 17:12-13)

God blesses those who follow Him.

This makes sense, right? We see it in history, but we also see it practically. When children obey their parents, they are often rewarded in some way…allowance, more trust and freedom, acts of appreciation. Disobedient children, on the other hand, are punished.

Paul wrote,

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7-8)

This does
not mean followers of Jesus will always be happy and that God-haters will always be miserable. But our choices have consequences, sometimes immediate, sometimes into the future, and sometimes eternal.

Jehoshaphat was a good king who followed God. He commanded the judges to be just (what a concept! 19:6-9). He trusted God for victory in chapter twenty. But like all but one person in the Bible, he wasn’t perfect. He’s a prime example that

Godly people can make unwise choices.

King David is another example.
Solomon is another example.

In many ways, we see Jehoshaphat indeed following his forefathers. The next chapter begins…

Now Jehoshaphat had great wealth and honor, and he allied himself with Ahab by marriage. (2 Chronicles 18:1)

This was what my dad used to call a “no no.” Ahab was not a godly king. His wife, Jezebel, threatened to kill Elijah the prophet who we discussed last week. The people of God—then and now—are to never make alliances with the ungodly. We are to love them. We are to introduce them to Jesus. But we must be careful about lasting partnerships with those who have a different worldview. Paul also wrote,

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14)

This verse is often used to discourage Christians from marrying non-Christians, which seems to fit, though the context shows its application much broader.

Do you remember what I told my kids? “You are your friends.
Choose wisely.” This is true in marriage. This is true in business. This is true in family.

What was the result of Jehoshaphat’s one poor choice to align with ungodly Ahab? Let’s jump ahead to chapter twenty-one, after his death (sometimes it takes time to see the true effect of our actions).

Then Jehoshaphat rested with his ancestors and was buried with them in the City of David. And Jehoram his son succeeded him as king. Jehoram’s brothers, the sons of Jehoshaphat, were Azariah, Jehiel, Zechariah, Azariahu, Michael and Shephatiah. All these were sons of Jehoshaphat king of Israel. Their father had given them many gifts of silver and gold and articles of value, as well as fortified cities in Judah, but he had given the kingdom to Jehoram because he was his firstborn son. (2 Chronicles 21:1-3)

Naturally, Jehoram is a good king like his dad, right?

When Jehoram established himself firmly over his father’s kingdom, he put all his brothers to the sword along with some of the officials of Israel. Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years. He followed the ways of the kings of Israel, as the house of Ahab had done, for he married a daughter of Ahab. He did evil in the eyes of the LORD. (2 Chronicles 21:4-6)

Did you catch that? Who led Jehoram away from God? The house of Ahab, including Ahab’s daughter that he married. Do you see a pattern?

This expression “evil in the eyes of the LORD” appears 50 times in the NIV translation of the Jewish Bible, many describing various kings, including Solomon, Judah, Nadab, Ahab, and the Israelites.

Perhaps you think God grades on a curve. If you’re pretty good, above average, everything will be ok. The reality is all of our choices have consequences, good or bad, immediate or future. Your past successes and failures are impacting you today, and today’s decisions will be more fully realized tomorrow, in your life and/or the lives of others, including your children and grandchildren.

Last month I met a man in Toledo who was telling me about his son. He said something that shocked me. He said, “I don’t want my son to turn out like me.” The man had made many poor choices in life…though none of them are beyond the power of God to forgive! I appreciated his self-awareness and love for his son. He was able to recognize how his choices affect not only himself but also his offspring.

We’re going to look at one more story which shows us how…

We can make the right choices, even in difficult times.

The people of Jerusalem made Ahaziah, Jehoram’s youngest son, king in his place, since the raiders, who came with the Arabs into the camp, had killed all the older sons. So Ahaziah son of Jehoram king of Judah began to reign. (2 Chronicles 22:1)

Jehoshaphat’s grandson is on the throne. All of his older brothers had been killed, so he became king.

Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem one year. His mother’s name was Athaliah, a granddaughter of Omri. (2 Chronicles 22:2)

He too followed the ways of the house of Ahab, for his mother encouraged him to act wickedly. He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, as the house of Ahab had done, for after his father’s death they became his advisers, to his undoing. He also followed their counsel when he went with Joram son of Ahab king of Israel to wage war against Hazael king of Aram at Ramoth Gilead. The Arameans wounded Joram; so he returned to Jezreel to recover from the wounds they had inflicted on him at Ramoth in his battle with Hazael king of Aram. (2 Chronicles 22:3-6a)

Then Ahaziah son of Jehoram king of Judah went down to Jezreel to see Joram son of Ahab because he had been wounded. (2 Chronicles 22:6b)

Ahaziah leads the people into idolatry and war.

Through Ahaziah’s visit to Joram, God brought about Ahaziah’s downfall. When Ahaziah arrived, he went out with Joram to meet Jehu son of Nimshi, whom the LORD had anointed to destroy the house of Ahab. (2 Chronicles 22:7)

We finally have a “good guy,” Jehu, who follows God’s instructions to put an end to the madness.

While Jehu was executing judgment on the house of Ahab, he found the officials of Judah and the sons of Ahaziah’s relatives, who had been attending Ahaziah, and he killed them. (2 Chronicles 22:8)

This is extreme, right? Thankfully God doesn’t give such instructions today, but remember, God hates sin, so much that he destroyed nearly everyone on the planet in the flood. I’m so thankful we live on this side of the cross, of Jesus.

He then went in search of Ahaziah, and his men captured him while he was hiding in Samaria. He was brought to Jehu and put to death. They buried him, for they said, “He was a son of Jehoshaphat, who sought the LORD with all his heart.” So there was no one in the house of Ahaziah powerful enough to retain the kingdom. (2 Chronicles 22:9)

Next in line was Ahaziah’s son Joash, but he was but an infant.

When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she proceeded to destroy the whole royal family of the house of Judah. (2 Chronicles 22:10)

What a nice lady! She regins as queen for six years…and her life is summarized in only three verses! The author of Chronicles all but wipes her out of the history books!

But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram, took Joash son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the royal princes who were about to be murdered and put him and his nurse in a bedroom. Because Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram and wife of the priest Jehoiada, was Ahaziah’s sister, she hid the child from Athaliah so she could not kill him. He remained hidden with them at the temple of God for six years while Athaliah ruled the land. (2 Chronicles 22:11-12)

Jehoshabeath risked her life to save a life, hiding the infant Joash who would later become king (2 Chronicles 24:1) and maintain the lineage of King David out of whom would eventually come Jesus, the Messiah.

We can make the right choices, even in difficult times.

So What?

I know none of you have the wealth or power of a king, but we all have influence.

Our daily choices create the future for us…and sometimes others, too.

I often wish our choices were as simple as right or left! Every day we’re faced with so many options for how we spend our time, our money, our energy, our thoughts, our technology, our relationships, …

Someone said it takes years to earn trust and seconds to lose it, and that’s so true. Even people who passionately serve God and love others can make one tragic mistake that can impact the rest of their lives…and the lives of others. This is why we all need this reminder…to choose carefully until our last days on earth. Last week we saw the faithfulness of Elijah and Elisha who both made it to the finish line, not perfect, but with their character intact. I desperately want that for you and for me, but it requires daily discipline, alertness to temptation, accountability, and positive influences.

Jesus’ half brother eloquently described the tragedy of sin:

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. (James 1:13-15)

Sin leads to death.
Desire leads to sin.
Temptation leads to desire.

None of us is exempt. We are all capable of heinous sins. We are in a battle. We need our spiritual armor one (which we talked about two weeks ago). We need godly friends who can guide us into truth and righteousness when the world screams lies of selfish pursuits and pleasures.

Our daily choices create the future for us…and sometimes others, too.

What kind of tomorrow do you want to experience? It begins today.

You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.

Faithful to the Finish, 7 July 2019

Faithful to the Finish
Series—All The King’s Choices
2 Kings 2:1-15

Big Idea:
God is faithful…and blesses our faithfulness.

What is your favorite attribute of God?

I am in awe of God’s power, grateful for His grace, thankful for His love, amazed by His wisdom, …but I think my favorite attribute of God is His faithfulness.

Moses wrote,

He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he. (Deuteronomy 32:4)

The original Hebrew word for faithful here is “emunah,” meaning faithfulness, steadiness, trustworthiness. The same word is used in the book of Lamentations:

Because of the LORD’S great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

My favorite hymn is “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” Although Heather and I have experienced countless storms, incredible pain, and more than a few surprises in life, we’ve found God to be faithful. We’re not always happy. We’ve been disappointed many times. But ultimately God has always proven Himself to be faithful to us.

A different, yet similar, word is used in this psalm:

He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them—he remains faithful forever. (Psalms 146:6)

The Hebrew word here is “emet” which is faithfulness, reliability, trustworthiness truth.
Communion is a reminder of God’s faithfulness as recorded by John:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

The Greek, pistos, used here indicates God is faithful, true, and trusty (it’s a word!).

This is our God! He is faithful!

God is faithful…and blesses our faithfulness.

Faithfulness is growing increasingly uncommon in our contemporary vocabulary. For one thing, faith seems to be in decline, whether that’s actually true or not. Full of faith might only describe the truly zealous.

I looked up the word and definitions include

- Loyal
- Constant
- Steadfast
- Devoted

Is that quality you desire from a friend? A family member? A Father?

Today we’re going to look at two men who were faithful, not only for a season of their lives, but faithful to the finish. They had experienced God’s faithfulness and returned the favor! These two men had similar roles and similar names…Elijah and Elisha. In the book of 2 Kings, we see the prophet Elijah nearing the end of his days on earth. He was faithful to God throughout, and God blesses his faithfulness.

When the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. (2 Kings 2:1)

Faithful servants remain faithful to the finish.

I often say it doesn’t matter who’s winning the game or the race in the final seconds. What matters is the end. The first to cross the finish line is the winner. The team with the most points when the buzzer goes off is the victor.

I’m so tired of hearing about gifted, talented, charismatic pastors who crash and burn before the finish line. They might be best-selling authors, megachurch leaders, or popular conference speakers who talk a good talk, but then self-destruct. Virtually every instance involves money, sex, and/or power. Success in the middle of the race is not enough. We must all finish well.

On more than one occasion I’ve heard people say they only read books by dead authors. They know how they finished!

Elijah’s story begins in 1 Kings chapter 17 in the 9
th century BC. His highlight reel included raising someone from the dead, calling down fire from the sky, and defending the worship of the Hebrew God against the false god Baal. He was so significant that he is mentioned in several books of the Bible and even other religious books such as the Quran and the Book of Mormon. In one miraculous scene, Elijah appears with Moses in the Transfiguration of Jesus in Luke chapter 9.

One of the greatest moments in Elijah’s life occurs in what could only be described as a near-death experience…because Elijah never dies! He’s one of two people in the Bible taken up to heaven before ever dying (the other is Enoch, Genesis 5:21-24). We’ll get to that in a moment.

One of the most important questions my late dad ever asked me is,
“Who is your mentor?” Throughout my life, I had no greater mentor than my dad, and I have missed him for many years.

Who is your mentor? Who are you mentoring?

Among the most humbling moments in my life have been the times young pastors in Burundi asked me to be their mentors. Another e-mailed me this past week.

Who is your mentor? Who are you mentoring?

The question could be plural. Different people can mentor us in different areas of life. For example, you might have someone who is showing you how to be a good spouse, another person modeling parenthood for you, a financial coach, a home-improvement guide, and a person teaching you how to play tennis.

In the days of Jesus, the most outstanding students would leave home and travel with a rabbi for months or even years. These “talmidim” or disciples did more than acquire knowledge. They sought to become like their teacher, eventually becoming teachers themselves.

Centuries earlier, young prophets learned from mentors like Elijah. They would gather in groups and be trained in guilds in places throughout Israel. Elijah knows he’s about to end his ministry on earth and he is with his protégé of seven or eight years, Elisha. The baton pass from Elijah to Elisha is nothing short of remarkable as Elijah embarks on his farewell tour.

Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; the LORD has sent me to Bethel.”
But Elisha said, “As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. (2 Kings 2:2)

Elisha is deeply devoted to Elijah.

The company of the prophets at Bethel came out to Elisha and asked, “Do you know that the LORD is going to take your master from you today?”

“Yes, I know,” Elisha replied, “so be quiet.” (2 Kings 2:3)

Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here, Elisha; the LORD has sent me to Jericho.”

And he replied, “As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went to Jericho. (2 Kings 2:4)

Did Elijah forget Elisha’s devotion? He’s not leaving his mentor!

The company of the prophets at Jericho went up to Elisha and asked him, “Do you know that the LORD is going to take your master from you today?”

“Yes, I know,” he replied, “so be quiet.” (2 Kings 2:5)

Everyone seems to know Elijah’s leaving soon, and they all want Elisha to know. First, the prophets of Bethel. Now the prophets of Jericho.

Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; the LORD has sent me to the Jordan.”

And he replied, “As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them walked on. (2 Kings 2:6)

Elijah, take a hint! Elisha’s not leaving your side!

Fifty men from the company of the prophets went and stood at a distance, facing the place where Elijah and Elisha had stopped at the Jordan. Elijah took his cloak, rolled it up and struck the water with it. The water divided to the right and to the left, and the two of them crossed over on dry ground. (2 Kings 2:7-8)

That’s amazing, not unlike God’s work in parting the Red Sea or the Jordan River for the Israelites on their journey to the Promised Land, perhaps marking a parallel between Joshua succeeding Moses and Elisha succeeding Elijah. Here the cloak was more than a piece of clothing. It was symbolic of one’s authority. In Elijah’s case, it was powerful.

This is all setup. It’s just a reminder that

Faithful servants remain faithful to the finish.

Where are you at on your life journey? We’ve all made mistakes, but the fact that you’re here today means you have at least a basic interest in following God. I long to be faithful, and I desire that for you, too. That means devoting ourselves to prayer, to the scriptures, to generosity and obedience. Most of all, it means loving others—even our enemies—as we are filled by the Holy Spirit.

It can also be said that

Faithful servants seek God’s power
(for the spiritual battle, not for themselves)

Power is one of the most enticing things on earth. We have a natural craving for control. I used to think it was unique to USAmericans, but it seems people all over the world desire power…and it’s as old as humanity.

Is power good or bad? It depends upon how it’s used.

We all have some amount of power, control, influence. The question is how do you use power for your own pleasure or to serve others.

I confess I have struggled, at times, with the power I have as pastor of First Alliance Church. We’re not a huge church, but we have been a flagship congregation within the Great Lakes District over the years. God has done incredible things in and through the people of FAC. As the lead pastor, I have been granted an amount of power and authority. I don’t pretend to be the most powerful or influential person in our church family, but my position affords me a certain degree of power…to be used for my selfish benefit or to serve others. I strive for the latter, and I hope that’s been your experience!

Last Sunday we talked about the very real war being waged in the heavenly realms, good versus evil. We need God’s power, not to do tricks and impress people, but to bring God’s kingdom into reality here on earth as it is in heaven. We need God’s presence, the fruit of the Spirit, and spiritual gifts to bless others.

Our story continues…

When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?”

“Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied. (2 Kings 2:9)

Elisha knows about the spirit of God given to Elijah. He recognizes the need for supernatural power if he is to serve others as a prophet. This isn’t a selfish request. In the day, the firstborn son received a double portion of the inheritance of his father. Elisha is expressing his devotion to Elijah as his spiritual son as well as his desire for God’s power to serve others.

“You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours—otherwise, it will not.” (2 Kings 2:10)

Elijah couldn’t give the double portion, but he was saying the evidence of the double portion from God would be if Elisha saw Elijah depart.

Now Elisha’s really going to stay close to Elijah’s side!

As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his garment and tore it in two. (2 Kings 2:11-12)

Wow! I’d love to see that scene on Netflix! Elijah goes us in a chariot of fire. Hollywood’s got nothing on that image! Horses and chariots were not merely transportation, but symbols of warfare, with fire and wind being signs of God’s presence, perhaps a storm with lightning and thunder.

For Elisha, the bad news is Elijah is gone. The good news is he witnessed an incredible miracle, which also meant he would be given a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. Now it’s up to Elisha to continue the work started by his mentor, Elijah, whose death he mourned through the tearing of his garment.

Through it all, Elisha was faithful to Elijah…and God.

Faithful servants do the work God assigns them.

God’s love language is obedience. Servants serve. It might be in a school, home, office, or church. It might be a public role or a private one. It might impact one life or millions. When we’re faithful with small things, prepare to be given greater opportunity. Such was the case for Elisha.

Elisha then picked up Elijah’s cloak that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. He took the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and struck the water with it. “Where now is the LORD, the God of Elijah?” he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over. (2 Kings 2:13-14)

The baton—or cloak—has been passed. The transition is complete. The mantle of authority has been transferred from Elijah to Elisha. Just as Joshua parted the Jordan River like Moses, Elisha sees God part it as Elijah had experienced.

The company of the prophets from Jericho, who were watching, said, “The spirit of Elijah is resting on Elisha.” And they went to meet him and bowed to the ground before him. (2 Kings 2:15)

The other prophets were eyewitnesses of the beginning of the powerful ministry of the prophet Elisha, a fruitful work that would continue for about six decades! He would be known for his humility, love for the people of Israel, and, of course, his faithfulness.

So What?

Life is a marathon, not a sprint. How you run the race matters, and how you finish is most important.

God is faithful…and blesses our faithfulness. Elijah and Elisha are both examples of this. A reading of 1 Kings 17 through 2 Kings 13 is a great study of these two godly yet imperfect men, prophets of God. They were blessed by God for being a blessing to others.

It’s unlikely God will call any of us into a ministry which will be remembered for generations, but each day we make choices. We choose to follow God or the world. We choose to use power for ourselves or others. We choose to take short cuts and live for the moment or make sacrifices for the long run, knowing life is a marathon and we want to finish well.

On a personal note, I’m so grateful for your prayers. No child dreams of going to prison, yet there are pastors from Toledo there today. No seminary student thinks about resigning from their church because of moral failure, yet that’s been the story of some of my colleagues. Better men and women than me have fallen before they reached the finish line, and but by the grace of God so go I. I really need and appreciate your prayers, and I know our staff and elders do, too. We’re in a battle and one mistake can be costly. I want to finish well. I want you to finish well.

God is faithful…and blesses our faithfulness. What is your next step? What is God calling you to do? Who do you need to mentor and disciple? Who do you need to mentor you? Discipleship is a multi-generational process that we’re all commanded to participate in. May all who come behind us find us faithful…for the glory of God!

You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.