Friday, May 31, 2013

Hardly a Role Model




1 Kings 21:25-26 (NIV)
There was never anyone like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, urged on by Jezebel his wife.

I recently met a young girl who said her name was Jezebel.  I thought how sad that her parents must not have known of the Bible character behind her daughter’s name.  It’s hard to find anything redeemable in the life of this wicked woman.

In the account of her life the trouble brought on God’s people began with the marriage of Jezebel and King Ahab.  How he met her is unclear but her character and notoriety is plain.  She came from a Phoenician family of idol worshipers.  Her father’s name was Ethbaal which means, a man of Baal, a heathen foreign god. 

This marriage of Ahab to this heathen woman proves why God commanded the Israelites not to intermarry with the heathens.  Jezebel sought to use her powerful position as the wife of the king to destroy the faith of God’s people. 

She used her beauty and every personal resource to wield power over her husband and destroy everything sacred among God’s people.  She erected temples in various places for the worship of Baal.  Her husband Ahab was reduced to a puppet of a leader submitting to her whims. At one point when Ahab’s request to purchase a vineyard was refused she had the owner of the vineyard wrongfully accused and stoned to death.  In fear the prophets of God were hiding in caves.   

Both Ahab and Jezebel paid for their wickedness dying in humiliation and fulfilling the prophecy of Elijah.  In the end we are left with two important lessons; wicked scheming does not pay and one should never name their child Jezebel.

Psalm 1:6(NIV)
For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
  but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Rahab



By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient. Hebrews 11:31(NIV)

Sometimes we call Hebrews Chapter 11 the Hebrews Hall of Faith because it lists a number of Israel’s heroes who were known for their great acts of faith. One surprise in that list is a prostitute who was commended for her faith. As you might expect, this is highly unusual. Why is her name there? Because she was partly responsible for the first victory of God’s people when they entered the Promised Land.

When Joshua sent spies to search out the land God had given them, they landed at the home of Rahab. There they found protection as she hid them on her roof and turned away those looking for them. In return for her favor, she and her family were spared when God’s people conquered her city, Jericho.

Certainly this is an amazing story. Just think: God used a sinner and a foreigner from the “enemy side” to help the Israelites make their first big advance into the Promised Land. It shows that God is not dependent on the greatness or strength of any person to accomplish His will. Even those who appear to be far from God have a place in His plan.

Even more incredible is the fact that Rahab is listed in Mathew’s Gospel as one of the ancestors in the family line of David, and as a result, she is in the family line of Christ! It’s all part of the wonderful story of God’s redemption. He who was not a sinner was born from among sinful people to provide for them what they could not provide for themselves: the payment for their sin.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Safe in Oklahoma

A message to our friends.  We are safe here in Oklahoma.  This has been a crazy three days of outbreaks and activity.  After a brief run to a local shelter on Sunday afternoon we were surprised to see more activity again on Monday afternoon.  For those just south of Oklahoma City in Moore Oklahoma there are difficult days ahead as a massive tornado ripped through many neighborhoods.  Please pray for these communities as they recover and bury loved ones.  As for me and my family we are all safe and looking for ways to help others in need.  Thanks for your prayers.

More info at:  https://www.facebook.com/doug.brown.14418?ref=tn_tnmn


Friday, May 17, 2013

For Such a Time



“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14 (NIV)

Esther was an amazing woman. She began her life as a political prisoner — an unknown, powerless person living in a foreign land — and ended up being queen of the most powerful nation on earth. More than all of this, she was used by God to change the course for her people, the Jews, who were living in captivity under Persia.

At a pivotal moment in the story, when Esther was unsure of her role, her Uncle Mordecai uttered this suggestion:  “Who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” As the story played out, Esther did indeed save her people from an evil plan by one of the king’s officials. And because of her actions, her position of power was secured. Haman, the one who had hatched the evil plan, was executed on the very gallows he had built for Mordecai.

If Esther had not acted on behalf of her people, they would have faced certain massacre. I can’t help but think that we are like Esther in some ways. Scripture says God has prepared, in advance, good works for us to do.

God’s ways are higher than ours, so we may not understand all that He is doing or how He plans to use us. However, it’s possible that even this week you will find yourself in a “such a time as this” situation. If you do, will you take the opportunity to serve God?

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)

Friday, May 10, 2013

We are Gomer



Yet I will show love to Judah; and I will save them—not by bow, sword or battle, or by horses and horsemen, but I, the Lord their God, will save them. Hosea 1:7 (NIV)

The story of Hosea is one of the craziest stories in the Bible. It begins with God telling his prophet Hosea to marry a promiscuous woman and to have children with her. This is not exactly the best way to begin a marriage and family. You certainly wouldn’t marry someone who is sure to cheat on you. And if you found yourself in a marriage where your spouse had proven to be unfaithful, clear thinking would tell you that adding several children to the mix would be unwise.

It’s hard to understand why God would ask His messenger to do such a thing, yet this isn’t the first time God asked something unusual of one of His messengers. Ezekiel was told to eat a scroll. Jeremiah had to wear an ox yoke every day. And Isaiah was told to walk around naked for three years! Apparently being a prophet of God sometimes came with a bitter pill.

Anyway, back to Hosea. The whole point of the events God put Hosea through was to show His people that they had wandered away from Him. He wanted to give the Israelites a visual for their sin.

Sometimes when I read the story of Hosea, I start to identify with Hosea. Not because my marriage is anything like his, but because he appeals to my sense of respectability and justness. I like Hosea because he is a righteous follower of God even though he has been maligned by the person he loves — Gomer, his unfaithful wife.

But the truth is we are more like Gomer than Hosea.  We are Gomer! We’re the dead weight in the story of our redemption. We bring nothing to the table in regards to our salvation. Sometimes we forget that we are the sinner, and He is the Savior.