Footsteps . . .

Text Box:

Vol.5, No. 11 – April 5, 2020

Leadership in a Time of Crisis . . .

The Lord was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the earlier ways of his father David. He did not seek the Baals. –2 Chronicles 17:3

With a few exceptions, our nation’s leaders have not done well in a second four-year term. Following Ronald Regan, the performance longer term for most presidents has been dismal.

Jehoshaphat serves in office some 35 years; a winner most of those years. It is said of him that he walked in the first ways of his tribal head father, David, and sought not to follow the worship or philosophy of the Baals.

Who was Baal you ask. A Cannaanite god that throughout the history of Israel is an invalid god, a thorn in the flesh. He was actually the “weather god” (so I guess we can understand why the thorn in the flesh part). This god is the end of all gods for rain, thunderstorms, and all that accompanies those weather patterns. Baal was the “go-to” god for times of crisis, struggle, and discomforts of the people. People worshipped at his altars. For every instance of a dry and thirsty land, the cry was, “we need to call upon Baal.”

Baal was a multi-purpose god. He (or she, depending upon the current culture of the day) was also the god of fertility, the giver of abundance; whether it might be in crops, physical reproduction, or other accompanying phenomenon. He/she is also the consort with the wicked and sexually gratifying Asherah. The gods of co-partnerships.

Jehoshaphat stands solidly and vigorously against sin. His heart was courageous in the ways of the Lord. And furthermore, he took the high places and the Asherim out of Judah (17:6).

Thus, after three years in the driver’s seat, he begins a nationwide religious education program. (I wonder how naïve people in our culture would have to be to endorse a religious education program that would accept just any religion other than Christianity. Wait. It is already here is it not?) Jehoshaphat handpicked sixteen men of Judah, trained them, and sent them throughout the nation with copies of The Book of the Law of the Lord. This leader wanted the people of the nation of Israel to know God and to know the Holy Scriptures. (Again, I do not think this would go well with the culture mindset of our present age.)

This was quickly followed by a public works program. It probably did not include building a wall to hold back intrusion from non-citizens, just enemy soldiers. More than likely, it did not include public works for other nations. (It would be interesting to read the full implication of our recently passed “Family” bill by congress to see how many other non-COVID-19 items are included.)

The question might be raised, from where did the money come? How did he pull this off? From the people. Therefore, the Lord established the kingdom in his hand. And all Judah brought tribute to Jehoshaphat, and he had great riches and honor (17:5). Beyond his own borders, the Philistines brought him presents and annual tribute. (We just borrow it and obligate future generations to pay it off.)

Guess what. Even the Arabs donated 7700 rams and 7700 male goats on an annual basis. Jehoshaphat experienced the joy of being right with God. Experience shows that when the religious life consists of a conscious yielding of small things, and a withholding of strength, life is increasingly tedious.

Life Application

It is one thing to surrender individual dollars; it is quite another thing to consecrate our wealth. It is one thing to build altars here and there on the road; it is quite another thing to consecrate the journey. If our self is kept back from the Lord, our religion will be a procession of reluctance and irritations. –J. H. Jowett

Nations are not won with religious tolerance, a plane load of money, or military aid to corrupt administrations. God has a plan to change people in their souls. We can be a part of His plan without compromising our beliefs, without striving to always be “politically correct.” We do, however, need to be fully correct in biblical truth (1 Peter 3:15).

Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. –Psalm 37:4

Leadership in a time of crisis is always available—if we would but ask our Almighty God!

Who else commands all the hosts of heaven, who else could make every king bow down, who else can whisper and darkness trembles, only a Holy God!

What other beauty demands such praises, what other splendor outshines the sun, what other majesty rules with justice.

What other glory consumes like fire, what other power can raise the dead, what other name remains undefeated, only a Holy God!

Who else could rescue me from my failing, who else would offer His only Son, who else invites me to call Him Father, only a Holy God!

Come and behold Him, the One and the Only, cry out sing holy, forever a Holy God, come worship the Holy God! —Only a Holy God

God knows . . .

Vol.5, No. 10 – March 29, 2020

Leadership in a Time of Crisis

2 Chronicles 16:9

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward Him. You have done foolishly in this, for from now on you will have wars. 2 Chronicles 16:9

Great beginnings do not guarantee great finishes. Being fast out of the gate is not the same as breaking the finish tape. It is amazing how backward our culture is regarding this bit of wisdom in today’s COVID-19 situation.

Paul mentions this in Galatians. You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from Him who calls you. –Galatians 5:7-8 But then, we hit the same stumbling, do we not?

King Asa blew it (and then blew it bigger). It is interesting how we seem to hold others to a greater expectancy that we hold to ourselves. We were going swimmingly, until someone else cut in on us; deflected us from a true course. We are the victim, of course. What detours us? It certainly cannot be our fault; can it? Really???

King Asa met with little drops of poison (it does not take much). Three small spots of mildew that spoil his bread. Three tiny cracks in his armor. It brings him down.

How did it begin? With ease and self-satisfaction. There are two phases. Phase one, All Judah rejoiced over the oath, for they had sworn with all their heart and had sought Him with their whole desire, and He was found by them, and the Lord gave rest all around (15:15).

Then phase two kicks in, And there was no more war until the thirty-fifth year of the reign of Asa (15:19).

There was rest in the kingdom, and there was no more war. Twenty years of rest and peace. Positives that turned negative. There was time to forget what God had done; weeks, months, and years to get comfortable and secure. Muscles and energy get soft; flabby and atrophied.

How can you possibly look back at what God has done . . . and not stare!

Then follows the fodder for failure. There is the compromise with Benhadad, king of Syria. There is a covenant between me and you, as there was between my father and your father. Behold I am sending to you silver and gold. Go, break your covenant with Baasha, king of Israel, that he may withdraw from me (16:3). Let’s renew our pact. So Asa prefers to rely on Syria, rather than rely upon God. Asa, in chapter 15 appears in the strength of reliance upon a reliable God; now in chapter 16, he appears in the weakness of self-reliance.

Finally, Asa fails in a personal crisis. Diseased in his feet (Gangrene? Or maybe a novel virus?), he does not seek out God; he instead relies upon the local witch doctors. Wow. In the last two years of his life he is shipwrecked, put on the shelf by Almighty God. His earlier faith no longer gives him meaning, because of his present unbelief. Sad. Horrible.

Life Application

There is that within us that runs to accept great challenges, often because they flatter us and bring us celebrity and recognition. We recoil at those tasks where there seems little to gain, everything to lose. Asa concludes his life politically correct, but spiritually he is in disaster.

There is a true statement: Few lives end well. Not that they die (they all do), but something within dies while they live. God allows us to live in order to fulfill His expectations, but too many sit on their rusty dusties, instead of living.

Perhaps we are recognizing we are depending upon ourselves, or on scientists, or doctors, or the philosopher next door, rather than depending on the One whose thoughts are higher than our thoughts, whose ways are higher than our ways.

Therefore, let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. –1 Corinthians 10:12

Leadership in a time of crisis is always available—if we would but ask our Almighty God!

Keeping on . . .

Text Box:

Vol.5, No. 09 – March 22, 2020

Leadership in a Time of Crisis

But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded. 2 Chronicles 15:7

We know that Asa is a hard-hitting person with commitments, charisma, and dogged perseverance.

The Chinese have a punchy expression: kin-chin. Man must not have proud air, but must instead have proud-bone. Now, to be accurate, proud-air is ego and pride; proud-bone is a genuine sense of self-respect. Commitment is a foundation stone for success in leading a nation; true for Asa with the nation of Judah. We need to observe how it plays out.

A messenger from Almighty God speaks up. The call is for commitment. Azariah, son of Oded, is to meet with Asa. Hear me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin. The Lord is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you, but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you (15:2). There is a powerful message—including points, text, illustration, and application (15:2-7). There is a short declaration, a 135-word challenge. Get it done, or else.

Asa, the leader appointed by God, cleans up. If one’s heart is committed to God, that heart will not shrink from making necessary changes; however radical and disturbing, and regardless of the clamor or blowback from others.

Asa takes courage, placing destruction upon the repulsive idols. Even, Maacah (15:16), the queen mother, Asa removes due to her making a detestable image for Asherah. Read the history of the repugnant pole, its image, its emblem of the fertility goddess. Obscene, repulsive, and disgraceful. Asa cuts down the image, crushes it, and burns it in the garbage dump at the brook Kidron.

The queen mother dismissed, in a show of holding to what God expects of His people, occurring regardless of public scandal. There is no attempt at a cover up, nor are there secret meetings to keep the information away from the nation. Asa displays unusual public integrity, unlike many political figures in our present world.

The people of God sign up. There is joy in a godly commitment. Revival breaks out in the land as her inhabitants gladly, and unitedly, sign up anew a covenant of loyalty. There appears a theme in the voice of the people: Seek the Lord. It was top priority; so much so that multitudes of Israelites traveled from the northern kingdom to join in fullness and with great enthusiasm.

All Judah rejoiced over the oath, for they had sworn with all their heart and had sought Him with their whole desire, and He was found by them, and the Lord gave them rest all around (15:15).

One man, Asa, made a difference. Asa is fully committed to the idea that military preparedness is more easily and readily created than national righteousness. Vigorous foreign policy is a poor substitute for godly moral values at the administrative level.

Should our culture be such a culture.

Life Application

If one man can effectively keep moving forward with doing what is right for the nation, can one who reads these words do likewise? Just one making a commitment. Just one relationally bounded to Almighty God. Just one. Would you be that one?

The writer of the Chronicles makes three points:

  1. The people of God speak up
  2. The people of God clean up
  3. The people of God sign up
  4. The people of God seek the Lord

How are we doing?

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people. –Proverbs 14:34

Leadership in a time of crisis is always available—if we would but ask our Almighty God!

On a Personal Note: These last weeks have been a time when believers have had great opportunities to spread the fame of Jesus in our world. Much of that “spreading” has come in checkout lines (boy have they been long!). Some of that “spreading” has been to those gathered in restaurants (Donna and I were interviewed for CBS-TV46 (Atlanta). I took the opportunity to express where my sure hope lies, and also to express my concern for those in our world who are in fear or dying without Christ. Please do not miss your opportunities that God places in front of you to speak of the Lord Jesus.

Here are some great Bible verses for you to be familiar with as you venture out into our crisis-filled world:

  • Deuteronomy 31:6
  • Lamentations 3:55-57
  • Psalms 23:4, 27:1, 34:4-6, 46:1-3, 56:3, 91:15
  • Isaiah 41:10, 43:1-2
  • Luke 12:25-26
  • John 14:27
  • Philippians 14:27

God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. –2 Timothy 1:7

Please remember the ministry God has called you to for serving:

There will be people in your church and community needing help financially, physically, transportation, and for the essentials of life — do not neglect them.

There will be continuing needs in your church to do the ministry the body has committed itself to do — it takes your contribution financially, and that of time — do not neglect them.

There will be unprecedented opportunity to share the gospel — God never crosses your path with someone by accident — do not neglect them.

There will be people that want to go to church and cannot during this crisis time — do not neglect telling them they can join others in the church live stream of services.

There will be moms stretched with caring for the children — do not neglect your opportunities to help in care ministry.

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