Tuesday, June 22, 2010

R.E.A.L. Women Devotional - The Great Divide

By the end of Solomon's life, the nation of Israel was not what God had intended. Solomon's disobedience was the beginning of Israel's division. Jeroboam, who Solomon made a special project foreman, had great leadership skills. The Lord told the prophet Ahijah to contact Jeroboam and tell him that He would punish David's line by making him ruler over ten of the twelve tribes and that his line would be destroyed if he failed to obey the Lord. Solomon was not happy about this and tried to have Jeroboam killed. Jeroboam fled to Egypt until Solomon died. After the death of Solomon, his son Rehoboam took the throne. Israel was now divided into two kingdoms. Northern Israel was known as Israel, which was ruled by Jeroboam. Judah and Benjamin stayed in Jerusalem and was known as Judah and ruled by Rehoboam. God preserved Judah because of his promise to David, yet he was not pleased with many of the next succession of kings. From this point on, rebellious kings ruled over Israel and Judah and the nation of Israel was divided and at war with one another. There were a few good kings, but the evil kings out numbered them.

This week reading in 2 Kings 17, the children of Israel were in the midst of war with each other. They were in chaos. The kings couldn't keep it together. For the most part the kings did their own thing and the scripture says, "did evil in the eyes of the Lord."

In 2 Kings 17:29,37-41. It says, "Nevertheless, each national group made its own gods in the several towns where they settled, and set them up in the shrines the people of Samaria had made at the high places."
It sounds so much like living in the United States today. Each state in the U.S. has the option of choosing its own laws. Let's skip down to 37, "You must always be careful to keep the decrees and ordinances, the laws and commands he (God) wrote for you. Do not worship other gods. 38 Do not forget the covenant I have made with you, and do not worship other gods. 39 Rather, worship the Lord your God; it is he who will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies." 40 They would not listen, however, but persisted in their former practices. 41 Even while these people were worshiping the Lord, they were serving their idols. To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their fathers did." This sounds so much like our country today. One of the things that we are fighting to keep is "In God We Trust" on our currency and "One nation under God" in our pledge of allegiance. What our currency should say is, "In Us we Trust" because America really doesn't trust God. Our country is so divided that we should be called the Individual States of America.

Earlier in this chapter, in verse 18, it says, "So the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them from his presence." Only Judah was still in good graces, but they too followed their brother Israel in practices of idol and Baal worship. Eventually, Judah too lost God's presence. It would seem we are headed in that same direction. They say, history repeats itself.

This whole picture of God's chosen people looks much like the Body of Christ today. We are divided by so many denominations. I recently was told by a friend, who is a follower of Jesus in one denomination, was accused by another follower of Jesus who is in another denomination, of being in a cult. Not only is this happening in the Church, but it is happening within churches. People are at war with one another all the time. Sunday after Sunday people show up, to worship the Lord, who are offended with others in their congregation. Sometimes it's even family members who are at war with one another, and yet they come to church expecting to enter the presence of the Lord. It's no wonder the Church is weak today. I once heard T.D. Jakes say that the one thing Satan has better than us, it's that he and his demons are in unity about destroying the Body of Christ. Think about this, he uses us as his weapon to destroy each other, therefore bringing division to the Church.

Jesus said in Luke 11:17, "...
Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall." Jesus did not say in the great commission to go and make denominations of all nations, but to go and make disciples of all nations. (Matthew 28:19) 1 Corinthians 4:20 says, "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power." God's plan for His kingdom is one of power. Power only comes when there is unity. The nation of Israel always won their battles not only being in unity with God, but with one another. Imagine the power of God in the Church if we joined as one. Jesus said that he and the Father are one. One divided by one equals one!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

R.E.A.L. Women Devotional - No More Words

Years ago I read an article by Dorothy Nevill. She said and I quote "The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing in the right place, but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment." This particular article said that women "talk" three times as much as men. Women use at least 20,000 words a day and men only use about 7,000 words. Wow! But having a daughter, I'm not surprised. She talks at least three times as much as my son.

What is it about women and words? As you can see I have many words, that’s why these devotionals are so long. We have this idea that we have the liberty to say whatever we want, and in the Christian vocabulary, we feel we can say it "in love". I recently heard a Christian woman, who in the same breath claimed to be filled with the Holy Spirit, speak horrible words to someone close to me. We don't realize sometimes the words we choose can leave deep wounds and although they heal over time, often leave scars. Why is it we always remember the negative things that are said to us? I wonder how many of those 20,000 words a day are negative and how many are positive. We might be able to cut our word count in half! Ecclesiastes 5:2 & 3 says "Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. 3 As a dream comes when there are many cares, so the speech of a fool when there are many words."

We really need to guard our mouths. We need to speak more "loving words" to one another than words "in love". We need to allow the Holy Spirit to be the filter in which we run our words through before we say them. I heard Joyce Meyer say once that it was interesting that the fruit of the spirit "love" and "self control" book end all the fruit in the middle. Sometimes love and self-control go hand in hand. I would challenge us to begin to look at what words we choose to use. Let us allow the Holy Spirit to bring it to our attention. He will do it in a gentle and loving way.

I admit I struggle in this area. Especially when life seems really heavy. It's like the pressure squeezes things out of me that would not be normally be said. To some degree that is good as it is releasing the toxins within my heart. But it all depends on "who" am I expressing it to. When we spew these toxins on others, it poisons them too, but when we recognize them and hand them over to the Lord, He can purify them. Take some time regularly to bring your heart to the Lord for purification. Jesus said in Matthew 12:34, "...out of the 'overflow' of the heart the mouth speaks."

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

R.E.A.L. Women Devotional - Divine Design

HGTV is one of my favorite stations. One of my favorite programs is, Divine Design with Candice Olsen. Candice is an interior designer who can take a home from blah and boring to wow and wonderful. The creativity she has and how she can see the finished product before she's even started, amazes me. Sometimes the room she has to work with has much to be desired. I love decorating too, but to be able to be creative on so many levels is truly a gift.

In the chapters 2-4 of 2 Chronicles, I would say is truly Divine Design. The passages talk about Solomon building God's temple in Jerusalem. As we have read, David wanted so much to build a place for God's presence to dwell, but God told David it was for his son to build. Partly because Israel was still fighting with some of the inhabitants of the land and they needed every man for battle. It took 70,000 men to be carriers and 80,000 men to be stone cutters and 3,600 foremen over them to keep the people working. Imagine that construction project.
They didn't even have Home Depot or Lowes to help.

In 2 Chronicles 2:5 &6 Solomon says, "
The temple I am going to build will be great, because our God is greater than all other gods. 6 But who is able to build a temple for him, since the heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain him? Who then am I to build a temple for him, except as a place to burn sacrifices before him?" Solomon went all out for the Lord. The decor inside the temple was more spectacular than anyone could have ever imagined. Solomon had cedar brought in from Lebanon. The colors and precious metals of gold, silver and bronze were carefully selected. In the 21st Century when a 2,000 square foot house costs almost a million dollars, imagine what the market value on this grand temple would have been then. Just a few miles from where I live is one of the most expensive house in the U.S. It's located in Corona Del Mar and the house even has a name. Its called the Portabello because its roof looks like a mushroom cap, yet its built into the side of a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. God's temple overlooked the whole city of Jerusalem.

A short time after this temple was built, it was destroyed. All that work and to lose it must have been devastating to Israel. Later it was rebuilt by Herod and even bigger this time. All in all, God only wants the best for His presence.

After the death and resurrection of Jesus, we became the new dwelling place for God's Spirit. First Corinthians 6:19, Paul tells us that we now are God's temple and the place where His spirit dwells. Think about the work that it goes into building this temple. It all begins as Psalm 139:13-14 says, "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are a wonder, I know that full well." He did his best work of design on mankind. The intricate detail that He put into us is amazing. With all the artificial organs and even cloning, I don't think man could ever have designed mankind the way God has. His plan was for us to live in a place of praise and wonderment of His glory.

Like the two temples that were built, we can destroy our bodies, not only physically, but with negative words, anger, unforgiveness, bitterness, resentment and evil talk. Especially what we as the Body of Christ can do to each other. I have to remember this is God's dwelling place and whatever I have or have done in my life that isn't pleasing to Him, I have to remove. Even in all of Solomon's splendor, nothing can compare to the beauty of the Lord. Solomon may have been a gifted designer, but God is truly the "Divine Designer."

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

R.E.A.L. Women Devotional - Smart Mouth or Wise Lips

"Don't give me any of your lip, don't be a smart aleck, or don't you talk to me with that smart mouth", are just a few of the sayings I was reminded of quite often growing up. These sayings are used when someone is disrespecting someone in authority or is used when someone is a "know-it-all." I can remember seeing classmates talk to teachers with that kind of attitude and could not believe they could get away with it.

As we are going through the life of Solomon, we see that in his early years he was a man of wise lips. Throughout Proverbs he uses the term foolish and wise or righteous in contrast to one another. I'd like to say a smart mouth is the foolish one and the wise lips is the righteous one.

A particular proverb that I try to live by is "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." (Proverbs 15:1) Thumper says it like this in the movie Bambi, "If you can't say anything nice, then don't say anything at all." This is probably more familiar to most than King Solomon's saying.

What is it about the attitude in which we speak that can stir up anger. Unfortunately today because of so much written correspondence, for example email, the reader can get stirred up with anger because of a few words that did not translate well. Personally, I try to put a happy face at the end of many of my sentences so they don't get misinterpreted.

The first twelve verses in the book of James, chapter 3 talk about how dangerous the tongue can be. The book of James would probably be the New Testament's book of Proverbs. It too talks about wisdom and the foolishness of the tongue when it is not tamed. James 3:5 & 6 says "Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.
6The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell."

I ask you today to reflect a bit how you speak to others. Do you speak to others as though you are always right and that you know-it-all? Or, do you choose your words carefully? Proverbs 17:27 says "A man (woman) of knowledge (knowledge is knowing what God is doing) uses words with restraint, and a man (woman) of understanding (knowing what God wants you to do about it) is even-tempered." Don't be a smart mouth. Instead be a person of wise lips.