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Posted By Nan

2 Chronicles 10:1-19
Once again, I apologise for the gap in blogs. An unexpected accident put me out of commission for a few weeks but I am better now and able to continue with the blog. During this time I have been restless and frustrated at my inability to complete tasks I want to complete. But this has been a time of learning to sit quietly with circumstances and wait on God. A wonderful lesson to learn as I write this blog series.
In my last blog I mentioned my sadness at Solomon’s failure to follow God in his later years. Here is the consequence of this being played out in his son Rehoboam. As I read this chapter, I considered this to be an excellent example of how not to follow God. So that is going to be the emphasis of this blog.
Rehoboam had gone to Shechem to be crowned King in the wake of the death of his father, Solomon. Towards the end of Solomon’s reign, as he turned away from God, he forced people into labour for him. Initially it had been for a wonderful purpose as he built the temple, but in latter years it had been for increasingly personal wishes of Solomon with his Royal Palace and other endeavours. The people found the burden placed on them to be hard. The people now came to Rehoboam and asked him to ask less heavy labour from the people in exchange for their faithful service to Rehoboam. Rehoboam, wisely, asked the people to come back in three days. This allowed him to consider what they had said and to seek advice from his advisors. He first consulted those who had advised Solomon during his reign. These men were old and had accumulated much wisdom. These men advised Rehoboam to be kind to the people and respond favourably to their request. This would result in their loyalty to Rehoboam. But Rehoboam did not like the advice they gave and asked the young men he had grown up with. Their response was to be hard on the people and increase the load placed on the people. Instead of following God, Rehoboam followed his friends and gave the people the harsh response suggested by them. It resulted in the splitting of the 10 tribes of the Northern Kingdom from the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin in the Southern Kingdom of Judah.
We read in these verses that Rehoboam’s stupidity was God’s doing to fulfil His promise to Solomon that he would take the kingdom away from Solomon’s son. But if Rehoboam had been a man with faith in God I suspect the outcome would have been different. God knew Solomon would raise sons without faith in God so the outcome was bad.
When we are faced with a decision it is wise to do as Rehoboam did and take time to consider a response. But our consideration should be one of seeking and listening to God. Rehoboam gave the response that suited him. He had been raised in Solomon’s royal family and was enjoying the power being King brought. He was not going to be told to do things by the people. He was going to rule as he liked. He lacked the wisdom to understand that a leader cannot rule without the support of the people. He definitely did not seek God, or he would have answered as the old men advised. Sometimes, the answer God asks us to give is not the answer we want to give. It requires a lot of humility and swallowing of our pride to do as God asks. Following God is not easy, but it is the right path and it leads to peace. Peace does not necessarily look like a stroll through a sun drenched meadow beside a gently trickling stream. It may well look like a battle across a headland battered by a wild storm and strong winds. . Peace is there despite the external circumstances or the turbulent emotions we may be experiencing. Peace is inside us in our assurance that God is with us. In the assurance that God has His plans and He is guiding us. May you know God’s peace and wisdom in your path following Him.

Posted By Nan

1 Kings 11:1-13
This is a sad story. Here was Solomon, the son of David, a man who loved God so deeply and whose love, poured out in the Psalms inspires us today. Solomon started his reign so well. He loved God, as his father had taught him. When God asked him what he wanted, instead of choosing riches and power, he asked for wisdom to lead the people. His wisdom was legendary, and he walked with God. He even built the temple and dedicated it with sincere praise to God. But he strayed from that path. He grew too fond of the adulation his wisdom earned him. He forgot that his wisdom came from God and instead of humbling himself and thanking God for that wisdom he began to believe he did it himself. All his wealth gave him the idea he could buy whatever he wanted, and he forgot that all those gifts came from God. He coveted many other women, all from royal houses, and he loved the power that came from linking himself to all these kingdoms. He forgot to spend time from God. He became more absorbed with how great he was and forgot how magnificent God is. Even when he did spend time with God it was about singing his own praises and not humbly praising God. He allowed himself to be seduced by the beliefs of his multitude of wives. He started worshipping their gods instead of the one true God. He forgot about God, despite God twice appearing to him. It is one thing for someone who has not had an encounter with God to stray away from Him, but for someone to come face to face with God, not once but twice, that is terrible. He encountered God’s great glory twice. He knew how mighty God was. Yet in his old age he turned away from God. It is like some terrible divorce.
The 20 year old loves God fervently and begs for the wisdom to reign in his father’s place wisely and according to God’s will. He is young and in love with his creator. He continues faithfully serving God. He builds the temple and a royal palace and the then 45 year old again receives a visit from God. God announces He has heard Solomon’s plea of dedication to God and God will answer it. But God warns him that if he or one of his sons fails to walk with God and worships other Gods, then God will tear Israel from the land. But Solomon forgets about his first love. The love he had at 20 that may have been wavering by 45, but remained relatively strong. He disobeys God and takes wives from the kingdoms around him. It is likely the first marriages were strategic ones, but where was his faith in God? He relied on strategic marriages to protect his kingdom instead of God. He kept marrying more and more wives. It is written that he loved them so the marriages were not about strategic alliances any more. The Bible says he married 700 royal wives and had 300 concubines. I do not know if that is a symbolic number or an actual number. Whatever the number was, it was an overwhelming number. He surrounded himself with women who worshipped other Gods. Additionally, God had forbidden the Israelites from marrying these foreign women because they would turn him away from God. Solomon disregarded this. Like the middle aged man who lets his eyes wander away from the wife of his youth to look upon young, desirable women, Solomon let his eyes wander away from the God he had loved so much in his youth and turned to the gods his desirable foreign wives worshipped. He forgot about his close relationship with God and the times God had come to him. He worshipped these women. And he worshipped their Gods.
God became angry with him and cut him off from the promised royal dynasty. It appears Solomon wasn’t even concerned. He did not stop what he was doing. The young man who loved God had tired of that love and chased after other gods.
We are just as vulnerable as Solomon in this regard. So how do we stop a divorce from God happening in our lives? We need to never forget our love for God. We need to communicate with God frequently, as we would with an earthly spouse. We need to spend time with God, not just one day a week at some carefully mapped out worship service, or when times are bad, or when someone sends us an email with a devotion in it. We need to spend more time with God than that. We need to read the Bible and earnestly seek Him. We need to thank Him for everything that He gives us. We need to thank Him when things go well for us, and not attribute our success to ourselves. We need to thank Him for his intervention when things go wrong. We need to be grateful in acknowledging all He has done for us. We need to be humble in recognising that He is mighty and we can do nothing without Him. We need to want to spend time with God, to see it as a privilege and blessing, not a chore. We need to seek Him and seek his insights into our motivations so we can realise when our behaviour is not acceptable to God and hand it to Him to change us. We need to constantly remind ourselves how much we love God. Most of all, we need to have a strong sense of the tragedy of Solomon and be filled with the desire to not repeat that mistake.

Posted By Nan

Joshua 14:6-15, Numbers 13-14.
Caleb was from the tribe of Judah. He was chosen to represent the tribe of Judah when God sent the 12 men to explore Canaan. The men were to explore the land and report on whether the people were strong or weak, numerous or few; whether their towns were fortified or without walls; what the land was like, whether it was fertile or poor quality soil and whether there were trees. They were also asked to bring back some produce from the land so that the people could see what it was like.
The 12 men explored the land for 40 days then they returned. They reported this was a rich, fertile land with abundant crops. However, they noted the people were powerful and lived in large, fortified cities. Ten of the men said it was not possible to defeat the people and possess the land. Caleb told the people they should go and take the land because God would be with them. But the ten men spread dissent amongst the Israelites so they rebelled. Despite following God for so long in the column of smoke, and being supplied with food so faithfully, they still did not trust God or acknowledge His ability to give them victory. Only Caleb and Joshua refused to lose faith in God. They stood in front of the assembled people and tore their clothes in distress at the people’s lack of faith. They reminded the people how God was with them and would give them victory if He commanded it. For their pains the people planned to stone them.
God’s response to this behaviour was to speak to Moses of the contempt the people showed by refusing to believe in Him despite all the signs and miracles He had given them. God decreed that none of those adults alive at that time would live to enter Canaan. Only Caleb and Joshua would be saved. The people were to remain in the desert forty years, one year for each day the 12 explored Canaan. Only then would their descendants be able to enter Canaan. In addition, God struck down the 10 who had initiated the rebelliousness.
The people were shocked at God’s displeasure, but they still did not seek God and His will, but instead decided what God wanted to see. Despite Moses’ warning they would fail, they went out to enter the land and were defeated by the people of Canaan.
If we jump forty years to Joshua 14, we see Caleb receiving his promised inheritance in Canaan. Judah attributed Caleb’s reward of the land as being because he followed God wholeheartedly.
I have mentioned Caleb before in this blog series, and I have spoken of following God wholeheartedly. What about what God described as the contempt those who did not follow Him showed? If following God means having faith in Him and trusting Him, then as God describes it, not following Him is to show contempt. Everytime we don’t wait for God but jump in, like the Israelites deciding to go up and try to enter the land after God forbade it, we show contempt for God. Every time we try to solve something on our own, every time we fail to wait for God’s answer, these are the times we show contempt for God.
The realisation that me doing it my way was showing contempt for God was quite a shock. I had never thought of my actions that way. I wonder if you have? We can look at the Israelites lack of faith and think how silly they are, but are we any better? How much contempt do we show God in our daily walk?
This is a challenge for all of us. Let us today pay careful attention to the times we don’t seek God and show Him contempt. Let us learn to be alert and quick to humble ourselves before God in repentance. Yes, Jesus has paid the price for our sin of contempt, but in following Him we are still required to seek to be the best we can be and acknowledge the times when we are not. God will look more favourably on our willingness to acknowledge our shortcomings then on our pronouncements of how faithful we are.

Posted By Nan

Deuteronomy 17:14-20
This passage is ostensibly about the Israelites reaching a time when they want a leader. God cautions them to make their leader one whom God chooses. This is very important. Because God knew the leader the people needed.
God instructed that the king not be a foreigner. This leader was to be one from among the Israelites. This leader was to remain in Israel and not seek to return to Egypt. He was also not to be like the Pharaohs and their abusive regime.
The leader was not to amass wealth or take on many wives, especially from other countries, because those things and those people would lead him astray and away from God. This is what happened with Solomon. Everything that God instructed the leader not to do is what Solomon did. What God was instructing here was what Jesus spoke of in Matthew 6:19-21, 24. It is not possible to serve two masters. The leader can serve God or the wealth, wives, power and so on, that he has amassed.
It was essential the leader knew God and followed Him. To aid in this, the leader was instructed to write for himself a copy of the law and read it daily so that he may learn to reverence and fear God. So that he may follow God. As part of following God it was essential the leader not consider himself better than the humblest citizen. The leader was also not to change the law and make up his own version of what it is to follow God. His reward for following God would be a long reign for him and his descendants.
You may say this is a lovely instruction and what a shame Solomon did not follow that. But what does it have to do with us now? It has a lot to do with us now. It applies to every one of us. It applies to leaders of countries, to leaders of organisations, to leaders in churches and to us in our daily life.
Our focus in life should be to remember God is our God. In following God we should not make amassing wealth and influence as an essential thing to do. Instead we should see following God as essential. There is a verse in Proverbs that sums this up beautifully. It says:
“Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread or I may have too much and disown you.” (Proverbs 30:7-9)
Do not seek wealth. Do not seek subterfuge or lies to get on in life. Instead seek to be honest and trust God for just what you need. Beware, because if you have too much you are likely to become caught up in that wealth. You will come to rely on it, not God. In time you are likely to forget that God gave it to you. And you will place your wealth and your own power ahead of God.
Be careful to keep God in your mind. As you travel through life you will meet many people who do not believe in God or Jesus. They may believe in other faiths. Accept their beliefs as their own and witness to them when and if God instructs you to do so. Never hide your own faith unless God instructs you to do so. Make sure you are not seduced by their faith to turn away from God. Always spend time with God, refreshing your relationship with Him. Put your relationship with Him ahead of that with others.
Remember not to consider yourself better then others. Humility is important for the follower of God.
Read your Bible daily and prayerfully consider it. Seek God frequently. Make following Him, through Jesus, the path for your life.
A leader should also heed these instructions and it is sad when they do not. But we should also heed these instructions despite what our leaders do.
You are responsible for your decisions. Other people are responsible for theirs. Seek to follow God as closely as you can, despite what others do.

Posted By Nan

Deuteronomy 6:1-7
This passage does not include the word “follow”, but it is important in following God. It speaks of the need to fear God. Not fear as in being afraid, but fear as in having reverential trust in God including a commitment to His revealed will (word). In this world after Jesus walked on the earth, this includes being committed to Jesus.
We need to have reverential trust in God so that God can fulfil His will in us. Without that faith and trust that allows God’s will in our lives, He will not fulfil that will.
Verse 5 is also very important. We are to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength”. There are no half measures with God. We must keep those thoughts constantly in mind. We need to talk about them to each other. We must teach them to our children. Following God carries with it a commitment to make God number one in our lives. To put Him above all else. To do anything else is to not follow God. There is no other way.
Someone suggested to me recently that I should tone down my message because people who do not believe in Jesus will be upset at my saying there is only one way to follow God. My answer to them? There is only one way to follow God. To suggest otherwise is to not follow God.
Following God includes putting concerns at offending others aside and taking the direction God gives to us. There is no other way to God than Jesus. We cannot water that down or avoid speaking of it. The true follower, the one who loves God with all their heart, soul and strength, cannot deny the truth that Jesus is the only way to God, the only way to follow God. When on this earth, Jesus did not water down the message of God in order to avoid causing offence. And neither should we.



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