Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Do Not Conform

God chose the Nation of Israel to be his Covenant people.  The goal was for them to live in obedience to Him and He would bless them above all nations.  As the other nations observed their obedience and God's blessings they would worship the God of the Israelites.  However, the nation of Israel continually did not live in obedience.

They continually became the influenced instead the influencer.  Instead of changing the culture the conformed to the culture.  Instead of living in obedience they lived in rebellion.  Instead of conforming to the image of God they conformed to the image of the world.

The sad reality today, is, we see the similar scenario played out in the lives of believers.  Instead of Christians being the influencers we have become influenced.  Instead of conforming to the image of Christ we have conformed to the image of the world.  Instead of living in obedience and receiving the blessings of God we live in rebellion.

1 Peter 1:13-16 
13  Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
14  as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance;
15  but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,
16  because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy."

Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV)
1  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
2  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. 

Are you living a life conforming to CHRIST or the world?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Learn from others

It takes a wise person to learn from his mistakes, but it takes an even wiser person to learn from others mistakes.
~ unknown

As I read Nehemiah 9 today I almost had to laugh.  In fact I may have laughed if I had not been so discouraged at the unbelievable stupidity of the nation of Israel.  As Ezra read the accounts of the nation of Israel it was an amazing reminder of how fickle we as humans can be.  The nation of Israel over and over again turned their back on God.  They would then get themselves in trouble or God would judge them.  They would live in misery, pain, and suffering until they finally decided to humble themselves and repent of their wickedness.

How many times will they continue this patter.  It is as if they are taking advantage of God.  They know God is long suffer, merciful, gracious, and abounding in goodness.  They do what they want to do and then when it gets bad enough they seek God.  

One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  This past week a friend of mine was at a youth camp.  One of the campers decided to try and pick up a copperhead snake.  He got bit and they had to airfreight him out of the camp to a hospital.  Listen to this, you will not believe the response they got from his Mom when they called.  Her response was, let me guess he got bit by a snake.  So apparently this kid has not learned a valuable lesson, DON'T play with snakes.  

Exodus 34:6-8
6  And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth,
7  keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and the fourth generation."
8  So Moses made haste and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshiped. 

Jonah 4:2 
2  So he prayed to the LORD, and said, "Ah, LORD, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm.

Nehemiah 9:17 
17  They refused to obey, And they were not mindful of Your wonders That You did among them. But they hardened their necks, And in their rebellion They appointed a leader To return to their bondage. But You are God, Ready to pardon, Gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, Abundant in kindness, And did not forsake them. 

God had revealed his character to Moses.  The nation of Israel knew God was gracious, long-suffering, merciful, and would forgive.  I am thankful God is a God of mercy, and grace, and forgiveness.  However, I don't want to take advantage of his grace, mercy, and forgiveness.  I want to walk worthy of the grace that has been given to me.  

How about you?
Do you want to learn from the mistakes of Israel?
Learn from the mistakes of others.  
Live in fellowship with the Lord.  
Walk with Christ every day. 
Worship everyday.  
Surrender everyday.
Live in Obedience everyday.

Repent if you need to.

Repentance can be defined as a heartfelt sorrow for sin, a renouncing of that sin, and a sincere commitment to turn from it and walk in obedience to Christ. 
~ Robby Gallaty 

1 John 1:9
9  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Understand, Rejoice, and Obey

Read the Word.

1. We must understand the Word of God (Neh. 8:1-8)

The Bible is not a "magic book" that changes people or circumstances because somebody reads it or recites it. God's Word must be understood before it can enter the heart and release its life-changing power. Note that six times in this chapter you can find "understanding" mentioned (vv. 2-3, 7-8, 12-13).

Ezra was the ideal man to conduct this outdoor Bible school. He was a priest and scribe who "had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel" (Ezra 7:10). He had come to Jerusalem about fourteen years before Nehemiah had arrived and had already sought to bring the people back to the ways of the Lord (Ezra 7-10).

2. We must rejoice in the Word. (Neh. 8:9-12)

As Ezra read and explained the Word, the assembly's first response was one of conviction and grief. They mourned over their sins, "for by the law is the knowledge of sin" (Rom. 3:20). The law can't save us; it can only convince us that we need to be saved and then point us to Jesus Christ the Savior (Gal. 3:24). The Jews had just observed the annual Day of Atonement, and the Lord had dealt with their sins (Lev. 16); so they should have been rejoicing in His forgiveness. On the Jewish calendar, the Feast of Tabernacles (Succoth) follows the Day of Atonement, giving God's people an entire week of happy celebration (23:26-44). The sequence is important: first conviction, then cleansing, and then celebration.

The Word of God brings conviction and leads to repentance, but it also brings us joy; for the same Word that wounds also heals. "Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; for I am called by Your name" (Jer. 15:16, nkjv). "The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart" (Ps. 19:8). "Your testimonies I have taken as a heritage forever, for they are the rejoicing of my heart" (119:111, nkjv).

It isn't enough for us to read the Word or receive the Word as others expound it; we must also rejoice in the Word. "I rejoice at Your word as one who finds great treasure" (Ps. 119:162, nkjv). In Bible days, people sometimes hid their wealth in jars buried in the ground (Matt. 13:44; Jer. 41:8). If a farmer plowing his field suddenly discovered a jar filled with gold, he would certainly rejoice. There are great treasures buried in God's Word, and you and I must diligently "dig" for them as we read, meditate, and pray; and when we find these treasures, we should rejoice and give thanks.

Do you delight in God's Word? Would you rather have God's Word than food (119:103; Luke 10:38-42), or sleep (Ps. 119:55, 62, 147-148), or wealth? (vv. 14, 72, 137, 162) If you delight in His Word, God will delight in you and share His best blessings with you.

3. We must obey the Word. (Neh. 8:13-18)

Obligation and appreciation are certainly strong motives for seeing the Lord, but celebration is even stronger. When we obey the Lord and serve Him because we rejoice in Him, then our service will be a delight and not a drudgery. The old Bible commentator Matthew Henry wrote, "Holy joy will be oil to the wheels of our obedience." To the believer without joy, the will of God is punishment; but to the believer happy in the Lord, the will of God is nourishment (John 4:34). The Jews still had work to do in their city, and they needed the joy of the Lord to give them the strength to do it.

"When I think upon my God," wrote composer Franz Josef Haydn, "my heart is so full that the notes dance and leap from my pen and since God has given me a cheerful heart, it will be pardoned me that I serve Him with a cheerful spirit."

Did the blessings of the celebration last? Yes, for a time; but then the people became careless again, and the leaders had to bring them back to the Word of God.

But the failure of the people is not an argument against special times of Bible study or celebration. Someone asked evangelist Billy Sunday if revivals lasted, and he replied, "No, neither does a bath; but it's good to have one occasionally!"

From time to time in the history of the church, God's Spirit has burdened people to pray, search the Scriptures, and confess their sins; and from these sincere spiritual exercises, He has seen fit to bring fresh life to His people. It happened in Nehemiah's day, and it can happen again today.
Can God begin with you?

"If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land" (2 Chron. 7:14, niv).

Bible Exposition Commentary (BE Series) - Old Testament - The Bible Exposition Commentary – History.

Friday, July 14, 2017

God Gets The Glory

During the building program, Nehemiah learned of social injustice among the Jewish population.  The number of workers needed for rebuilding Jerusalem's wall was immense.  The danger of attack required an equal number of men for military service.  The economic strain created by the diversion of so many able-bodied workers from the regular labor force created an opportunity for corruption.

Some Jews took advantage of other Jews to increase their profits.  Nehemiah knew that the wall would not be completed unless the needs of the people were met.  But more importantly, he knew that the rebuilding of the "spiritual city" would never be completed unless he faced the issues at hand.

Despite external opposition and internal problems, the people continued to build the wall.  Finally the work was finished.  It had taken 52 days.  From the beginning, Nehemiah had put the matter of rebuilding Jerusalem's wall into God's hands.  God's people had determined that the best answer to their opposition was to keep working and to fulfill God's will.  As they did so, neighboring nations saw God's power at work in them.  

When God's people accomplish God's work in God's strength, God gets the glory.

~ Robby Gallaty (Foundations, page 151)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Stand Firm

British critic and author Thomas Carlyle called ridicule "the language of the devil." Some people who can stand bravely when they are shot at will collapse when they are laughed at.

Shakespeare called ridicule "paper bullets of the brain," but those bullets have slain many a warrior.

When the enemy laughs at what God's people are doing, it is usually a sign that God is going to bless His people in a wonderful way.

The people of God, will almost always face opposition.  The oppositions comes from a lot of different places.  The biggest opposition is Satan himself.  Satan does not want believers to be active for God.  Satan does not want the church to be unified and focused on the mission to reach the lost for Christ.  Satan does not want the people of God to live committed, surrendered, victorious lives.  Jesus told us that He came to give us life and to give us life more abundantly.

Satan does not want men who have a mind to work, a heart to pray, and the courage to stand.  

I wonder today if you feel as if you are being attacked by Satan?
I wonder today if you have let the negative words of people get you down?
I wonder if you have let the busyness of life and discouragement keep you from fighting for your family?
I wonder if you are living in the victory that is yours through Jesus?

Today as I read the story of Nehemiah and these men who had faith to STAND FIRM in the face of opposition I am again challenged to stand firm for CHRIST.

These men were willing to fight for their homes.
These men were willing to fight for their faith.
These men were willing to fight for their God.

We need men who will STAND FIRM and fight.

1 Corinthians 15:58
58  Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. 


Adam Green sent me this video the other day.
Take time to watch it and ask yourself, am I willing to fight?


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Build that Wall

The book of Nehemiah picks up where Ezra left off in the historical records of the restoration of Jerusalem.  Under Ezra's spiritual leadership, the Jews began to renew their allegiance to the Lord.  Just 13 years later, Artaxerxes allowed another Jewish leader, Nehemiah, to return to the city.  Nehemiah appeared with an ambitious goal: to rebuild the city's wall.

Nearly a century had passed since the first Jewish exiles returned to Jerusalem.  In that time, they had constructed the temple and various other, mostly private, structures.  Yet even so, the defensive wall that surrounded the city remained to be rebuilt.

The true problem was not a broken-down city.  The true problem was broken-down people who had a  disconnected relationship with God.  Nehemiah was called to rebuild a city and a community of people in shambles.  Because of the exile, Jerusalem was in need of both physical and spiritual renewal.  

The same is true of our broken world.  There are hurting and helpless people all around us - people who need the hope of Christ.  When we let this reality sink in, like Nehemiah, we are compelled to step up and make a difference.

~ Robby Gallaty (Foundations, pg. 149)

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Be Committed

Chapter Eight.
From Victims to Victors

Esther 8 (In which the good news of a new law brings hope and joy)
Haman was dead, but his murderous edict was still very much alive. Long after wicked people are gone, the consequences of their evil words and deeds live on. Even today, innocent people are suffering because of guilty people who lie in their graves.
Unless something intervened, within nine months the Persians would attack the Jews and wipe them off the face of the earth. There were about 15 million Jews among the estimated 100 million people in the empire. Therefore, the odds were definitely against God's people. Of course, God's people have always been a minority; and "one with God is a majority." The Lord had brought Esther and Mordecai to the kingdom "for such a time as this," and they were prepared to act.

Chapter Nine.
God Keeps His Promises

Esther 9 and 10 (In which the tables are turned, and then the tables are spread)
Seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive." That was God's counsel to the Jews through the Prophet Jeremiah (Jer. 29:7, nkjv); and for the most part, they obeyed it. It wasn't the Jews who had declared war on the Gentiles, but the Gentiles who had declared war on the Jews!
"D Day" arrived for the Jews, the day appointed by Hainan's decree for the slaughter of God's chosen people in the empire. But Mordecai's decree had changed that "D" from "destruction" to "deliverance." The Jews had permission to resist their enemies and had been given nine months to prepare for the encounter. The people in the empire who hated the Jews were hoping for victory, but "the tables were turned and the Jews got the upper hand over those who hated them" (Est. 9:1, niv).

Chapter Ten.
God Uses People 

But the important message in this chapter is that God continued to use Mordecai to help the Jewish people. The Jews were aliens in a foreign land and subject to all kinds of harassment and abuse. Mordecai saw to it that they were treated with fairness. The last words of the book are variously translated. The Authorized Version says "and speaking peace to all his seed," suggesting that he encouraged the Jews and kept them at peace with one another. The niv reads "and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews." This implies that there were still forces at work in the empire opposing and threatening the Jews, but Mordecai represented them at court and protected them. "He did his best for his people, and was a friend at court for all of them" (TLB).

The exciting drama of Esther is over, but the blessings go right on. 

God preserved the Jewish nation so that we today can have a Bible and a Savior. Now it's our job to tell the whole world about this Savior and seek to win as many as we can to the Lord. We are the King's couriers, and we dare not fail.

Esther reaches across the centuries to join hands with believers today, and to say to the church: 
Be Committed!

~ Bible Exposition Commentary (BE Series)

Friday, July 7, 2017

If I Die I Die - That's surrender

Chapter Three
An Old Enemy With a New Name

Esther 3 (In which an evil man challenges the throne of Almighty God)
For four years, things have been peaceful in Shushan. Esther has reigned as queen, and Mordecai has tended to the king's business at the gate. Then everything changed, and all the Jews in the empire found themselves in danger of being killed—just to satisfy the hatred of a man named Haman. 

The Book of Esther is one of five Old Testament books that the Jews call "The Writings" or "The Five Megilloth." (The word megilloth means "scrolls" in Hebrew.) The other books are Ruth, Ecclesiastes, The Song of Solomon, and Lamentations. Each year on the Feast of Purim, the Book of Esther is read publicly in the synagogue; and whenever the reader mentions Hainan's name, the people stamp their feet and exclaim, "May his name be blotted out!" To Jews everywhere, Haman personifies everybody who has tried to exterminate the people of Israel. This chapter explains to us why Haman was such a dangerous man.

Chapter Four.
A Day of Decision

Esther 4 (In which the queen goes into her counting house and counts the cost)
There were perhaps 15 million Jews scattered throughout the Persian Empire. Because of Haman's enmity and the king's stupidity, all of them were now appointed to die, unless they pulled up stakes and left the kingdom. But if they did that, where would they go? Even their own land of Israel wasn't safe because it was under the rule of Ahasuerus. Since the Persians ruled "from India to Ethiopia" (1:1), there were very few accessible places to which the Jews might flee.

In the Empire, the responses to Hainan's decree were varied. Haman and the king completely ignored the plight of the Jews and sat down to a royal feast. Meanwhile, the people of the capital city were perplexed and didn't know what to do (3:15). Secluded in the royal harem, Queen Esther knew nothing about the danger that she and her people faced. While the Jews in the various provinces began to fast and mourn (4:3), only one man, Mordecai, was able to do anything about the peril; and he immediately began to act.

From the human point of view, everything was against Esther and the success of her mission. 

  • The law was against her, because nobody was allowed to interrupt the king. 
  • The government was against her, for the decree said that she was to be slain. 
  • Her sex was against her, because the king's attitude toward women was worse than chauvinistic. 
  • The officers were against her, because they did only those things that ingratiated themselves with Haman. 
  • In one sense, even the fast could be against her; for going three days without food and drink would not necessarily improve her appearance or physical strength.
 But "if God be for us, who can be against us?" (Rom. 8:31, kjv)
The answer of faith is—"Nobody

~ Bible Exposition Commentary (BE Series) - Old Testament - The Bible Exposition Commentary – History.

The story of Esther reminds me that God uses people to accomplish His plan and His purpose.  Esther was willing and available to be used of God even if it cost her life.

How about to today?
Are you willing to surrender everything for the will and purpose of God to be accomplished in you and through you?

Esther 4:16 
16  "Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!" 

God wants to accomplish His will and His plan and He wants to use you.
As you read the words of Esther ask yourself if out have that same faith and courage in God?

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Queen Says NO!

The Queen Says "No!"

Esther 1 (In which a family disagreement grows into a national crisis)

Let's begin by getting acquainted with the king. His Persian name was Khshayarshan, which in Hebrew becomes Ahasuerus and in the Greek language, Xerxes. His father was Darius I, and his grandfather was Cyrus the Great; so he came from an illustrious family. Ahasuerus ruled over the Persian Empire from 486 to 465 B.C. The empire was divided into twenty "satrapies," which in turn were subdivided into "provinces"; and the king was in absolute control.
Like most monarchs of that day, Ahasuerus was a proud man; and in this chapter, we see three evidences of his pride.

Esther 2 (In which Esther becomes the king's wife, and Mordecai gets no reward for saving the king's life)

"God is preparing His heroes," said A.B. Simpson, founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, "and when the opportunity comes, He can fit them into their places in a moment, and the world will wonder where they came from." Dr. Simpson might have added that God also prepares His heroines, for certainly Esther was divinely prepared for her role as the new queen. God is never surprised by circumstances or at a loss for prepared servants. 

He had Joseph ready in Egypt (Ps. 105:17), Ezekiel and Daniel in Babylon, and Nehemiah in Susa; and He had Esther ready for her ministry to the Jews in the Persian Empire.

~Bible Exposition Commentary (BE Series) - Old Testament - The Bible Exposition Commentary – History.

The events described in the book of Esther cover a 10-year period during the reign of Xerxes.  He was an arrogant ruler, and when his queen refused to put herself on display at a lavish and drunken banquet, the king deposed her and launched an empire-wide search for a replacement.  The quest for a new queen lasted four years.  

Esther was brought before him as a his new queen.  Esther's unusual story is a part of Scripture and matters to us today because it is a clear picture of God's providential protection and care of HIs covenant people.  Esther was a Jew who God placed in a position to influence the destiny of His people and nations at a time when they would  need an advocate.  

Even in our most trying situations, God is always at work for our long term good, even if in the short term, it is not clear how He's dong so.  He wants His people to trust Him wholeheartedly and confidently even in the midst of radical, unexpected change.

- What is one unexpected situation you are currently facing?
- Based on reading Esther 1-2, what are some applications you've learned that will help you know you can trust God completely during this situations?
- How should this change the way you respond to it?

~ Robby Gallaty (Foundations pg. 145)

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Who Me?

Who Me?

It seems as if our natural response is to deflect the message from ourselves and project it on to someone else.

It seems like it is so much easier to point out the sins of others.  It seems as if it comes more naturally to hear a message or read a passage of scripture and think of someone else.  It is much more difficult to read a passage and acknowledge that it is me, myself, and I that have sinned. 

As Americans we celebrated our nations Independence yesterday, as we do every year on July 4.  One of the most read passages of scripture in America this past Sunday morning was 2 Chronicles 7:14.  I have not done research on this, but this is my assumption based on years of being in church.  Let me give you the verse in case you have not read it.

2 Chronicles 7:14

14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

This verse was a direct answer to a direct prayer of King Solomon.  God gave an answer in an IF/THEN promise to the nation of Israel.  If they (Israel) would repent then God would forgive and heal.  Along with my assumption that this verse was read in many American churches this past Sunday is another assumption.  The assumption is that most people read that verse and think, YES if those wicked people out there would repent then our country would not be in the mess we are in.  However, I believe that we all share in the SIN.  We are all guilty.  We as believers have not taken a stand.  We have been far to passive.  We have given in.  We have joined in.  We have as much guilt if not more guilt.  I need to repent.  Yes, ME, MYSELF, and I.  I need to humble myself, pray, seek God, and turn from my sins.  You need to examine your life.  I will go ahead and assume again and say YOU need to repent.

In our reading today, Ezra repented.  He owned the sin of his nation and he repented.  His repentance lead others to repent as well.

Like both Nehemiah (Neh. 1:4-10) and Daniel (Dan. 9), Ezra identified himself with the people and their sins and spoke to God about "our iniquities" and not "their iniquities." Israel was one covenant nation before God, and the sins of one person affected all the people. For example, when Achan disobeyed God at Jericho, God said to Joshua, "Israel has sinned" (Josh. 7:11, nkjv, italics mine). The same principle applies to the local church (1 Cor. 5:6-8). Unless sin is dealt with, the whole assembly becomes defiled.

Like the publican in our Lord's parable (Luke 18:9-14), Ezra was too ashamed to look up to heaven as he prayed. The inability to blush because of sin is a mark of hypocrisy and superficial spiritual experience (Jer. 6:13-15). "Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush" (Jer. 8:12, niv). Words and actions that would have made earlier generations blush in shame are today part of the normal "entertainment" diet of the average TV viewer. When a nation turns sin into entertainment and laughs at what ought to make us weep, we are in desperate need of revival.

Guilt always shuts a person's mouth before God (Rom. 3:19). Sinners can give Him no logical reason for their sins and no acceptable excuses. Ezra not only confessed their sins but admitted that God had treated them far better than they deserved. He knew that God could easily destroy the remnant and start again with another people (Ex. 32:10; Num. 14:11-12), but, like Moses, he asked God to be gracious and forgiving.

Nobody could stand in His presence; nobody could speak in His presence. They were a guilty people, some of them because they deliberately broke God's law, and others because they allowed the offenders to get away with their sins. But God is righteous, and a righteous God must punish sin.
Before we try to untangle the problems of life, we must take time to seek God's face in prayer. This is not a long prayer. It can be read aloud very deliberately in only a few minutes, but it has tremendous depth. Charles Spurgeon used to say that it was the strength of our prayers, not the length of our prayers, that was important; and he was right. When you pray from a burdened heart, with a mind that's saturated with God's Word, then God will hear and answer.

~Bible Exposition Commentary (BE Series)

Today as you read Ezra and see the response of the people may YOU respond in the same manner.  May you and I repent of our sin and turn to God.  May we acknowledge that we are guilty before God.  We are in need of his grace, mercy, and forgiveness.  We are in need of repenting and turning back to God for our apathy, laziness, lack of passion and compassion for those who are not believers.  I am so quick to JUDGE and point fingers and push blame on others, but MAYBE IT IS ME!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Peace Today Hope for Tomorrow

Peace today and Hope for tomorrow

Zechariah was one of God's prophets appointed to deliver His messages tot he Jews who returned to Jerusalem after the exile.  One of the reasons God sent Zechariah at this time was to encourage the people to continue their work on the temple even in the face of opposition.  

Through a series of eight night visions to Zechariah, God revealed His purposes to His people.  He would restore their cit and their relationship with Him, and eventually, He would give Israel final victory over its enemies.  These verses also contain God's promise of a Messiah and His promise to put out the Spirit of grace and prayer on the people of Jerusalem.  

These prophecies point ahead to Jesus - the One who was pierced on the cross for the sins of mankind and the One through whom final victory against sin and death is accomplished.  Zechariah also prophesied regarding the coming of the Holy Spirit, which took place after Jesus' resurrection and ascension.  

As believers, we can rejoice that salvation in Christ brings peace today and hope for eternal peace tomorrow.  Salvation is made possible through the suffering of the Messiah.

- Robby Gallaty (Foundations pg. 142)

Friday, June 30, 2017

God Works Through The Preacher

God Works Through The Preacher (that peaches the WORD)

From 530 to 520, the Jews concentrated on building their own houses and neglected the house of the Lord. The Lord chastened His people to encourage them to obey His commands (Hag. 1:6), but they refused to listen. What means did God use to get the work going again?

God used preachers of the Word (Ezra 5:1-2). 
It was by the Word of the Lord that the world was created (Ps. 33:6-9), and by that same Word the Lord governs His creation and His people (Ps. 33:10-11). Church history shows that when God wants to arouse His people to do His will, He calls people to proclaim the Word of the Lord.

The preaching of Martin Luther brought about what we call "the Reformation," a movement that transformed not only Germany but the entire Christian world. The preaching of John Wesley produced a spiritual awakening in Great Britain that swept many into the kingdom of God. Historians tell us that the Wesleyan Revival helped to rescue England from the kind of blood bath that France experienced during the French Revolution.

Never underestimate the power of the faithful preaching of God's Word. Charles Spurgeon, the famed British Baptist preacher, said, "I cannot help feeling that the man who preaches the Word of God is standing, not on a mere platform, but on a throne."

Haggai began his ministry of the Word on August 29, 520 (Hag. 1:1), and five of his messages are recorded in the book that bears his name. A month or two later, he was joined by a young man named Zechariah, a priest whom God had called to be a prophet (Zech. 1:1). These two men delivered God's Word to the leaders and the remnant, "and they [the Jews] prospered through the prophesying [preaching] of Haggai, the prophet, and Zechariah" (Ezra 6:14).

Any work of God that isn't built on the Word of God will never prosper. Moses' success as the leader of Israel came from his faith in and obedience to God's Word (Deut. 4:10). Joshua's success in conquering the enemy in Canaan was based on his devotion to the Word of God (Josh. 1:8). When we obey God's Word, we can expect "great reward" (Ps. 19:11). If we want to know the power of God, we must also know the Word of God (Matt. 22:29).

~ Bible Exposition Commentary (BE Series) 

This commentary reminds me of the HUGE responsibility and honor I have to be a preacher of the WORD OF GOD.  As wrestle with this great responsibility and opportunity let me take a moment to encourage to pray for those who preach the WORD to you.

Satan wants to attack preachers.  Satan wants to destroy their life, their testimony, and the glory of God in their churches.  Please take a moment and pray for your pastor.  Please make it a priority to pray for him and his family every day.  Pray for the protection of God in his life and on his family.  Pray for your pastor to be empowered by the Spirit of God as He stands before you and proclaims the Word of God.

I am thankful for the many people who are faithful every day to pray for me and for my family and for God's church.

~ Jon

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

God is in Control

"Thank God He gives us difficult things to do!" said Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest.
The first time I read that statement, I shook my head in disagreement; but I was young and inexperienced then, and it seemed smarter to do the easy things that made me look successful. However, I've lived long enough to understand the wisdom of Chambers' statement. I've learned that when God tells us to do difficult things, it's because He wants us to grow. Unlike modern-day press agents and spin doctors, God doesn't manufacture synthetic heroes; He grows the real thing. "The hero was a big man," wrote Daniel Boorstin; "the celebrity is a big name."
In God's Hall of Heroes are the names of nearly 50,000 Jews who in 538 B.C. left captivity in Babylon for responsibility in Jerusalem. God had called them back home to do a difficult job: to rebuild the temple and the city and restore the Jewish community in their own land. This noble venture involved a four months' journey plus a great deal of faith, courage, and sacrifice; and even after they arrived in the Holy City, life didn't get any easier. But as you read the inspired record, you can see the providential leading of the Lord from start to finish; and "if God be for us, who can be against us?" (Rom. 8:31)

In this passage we see the ability of God to work in and through and situation.

The release of the captives (Ezra 1:1-4)

More than a century before, the Prophet Isaiah had warned the Jews that the people of Judah would be taken captive by Babylon and punished for their sins (Isa. 6:11-12; 11:11-12; 39:5-7), and his prophecy was fulfilled. In 605, Nebuchadnezzar deported the royal family and took the temple vessels to Babylon. In 597, he sent into exile 7,000 "men of might" and a thousand craftsmen (2 Kings 24:10-16); and in 586, he destroyed Jerusalem and the temple and exiled the rest of the Jews in Babylon, except for "the poor of the land" (2 Kings 25:1-21).

In 538, Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, conqueror of Babylon, issued a decree that permitted the exiled Jews to return to their land and rebuild their temple. This, too, had been prophesied by Isaiah (Isa. 44:28). What Cyrus did twenty-five centuries ago reminds us today of some important spiritual truths.

God is faithful to His Word
For at least forty years, the Prophet Jeremiah had warned the leaders of Judah that the Babylonian exile was inevitable (see Jer. 20:4-6; 21:7-10); and he pled with them to repent of their sins and surrender to Babylon. Only then could they save the city and the temple from ruin. The leaders didn't listen—in fact, they called Jeremiah a traitor—and the Holy City and the temple were destroyed in 587-586.
But Jeremiah also announced that the Captivity would be for seventy years (Jer. 25:1-14; 29:10; see Dan. 9:1-2). Bible students don't agree on the dating of this period, whether it begins with the Babylonian invasion in 606 or the destruction of the city and temple in 587-586. From 606 to 537-536, when the remnant returned to Judah, is seventy years; but so also is the period from the fall of Jerusalem (586) to the completion of the second temple in 516. Regardless of which calculation you accept, the prediction and its fulfillment are astonishing. Whether He promises chastening or blessing, God is always faithful to His Word. "Not one thing has failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spoke concerning you" (Josh. 23:14, nkjv). "There has not failed one word of all His good promise" (1 Kings 8:56, nkjv). "Heaven and earth shall pass away," said Jesus, "but My words shall not pass away" (Matt. 24:35).

God is in control of the nations. 
It was the Lord who raised up Nebuchadnezzar—"My servant" (Jer. 25:9; 27:6; 43:10)—to chasten the people of Judah; and then He raised up Cyrus to defeat the Babylonians and establish the Persian Empire., "Who has stirred up one from the east, calling him in righteousness to His service? He hands nations over to him and subdues kings before him" (Isa. 41:2, niv; see also v. 25). The Lord called Cyrus "My shepherd" (44:28) and "His anointed" (45:1), and Isaiah prophesied that Cyrus would liberate the exiles and enable them to rebuild their city and temple (v. 13).

God can do as He pleases with the rulers of the earth; and He has demonstrated this in His dealings with Pharaoh (Ex. 9:16; Rom. 9:17), Ahasuerus (The Book of Esther), Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:28), Augustus Caesar (Luke 2:1), and Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12:20-24). King Jehoshaphat said it perfectly: "O Lord, God of our fathers, are You not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in Your hand, and no one can withstand You" (2 Chron. 20:6).

People don't have to be Christian believers for God to use them. Whether a mayor, governor, senator, prime minister, ambassador, or president, God can exercise His sovereign power to accomplish His purposes for His people. This is one reason Paul exhorts believers to pray for those in authority, not that our political agenda might be fulfilled, but that God's will might be accomplished on this earth (1 Tim. 2:1-8). "God can make a straight stroke with a crooked stick," said Puritan preacher John Watson; and that's what he did with Cyrus!

The king's decree boldly acknowledged the Lord and called Him "the Lord God of heaven" (Ezra 1:2), a title that's used seventeen times in Ezra, Nehemiah, and Daniel. The decree addressed two kinds of people: (1) those who wanted to return to their land and (2) those who preferred to remain in Babylon. The latter group was urged to give offerings to help finance the expenses of the journey and the restoration of the temple.

The Jews also accepted gifts from their Gentile neighbors (v. 6, niv). When the Jews left Egypt, they plundered the Egyptians (Ex. 12:35-36) and collected the wages the men should have received during their years of slavery. Now the Jews were making their "exodus" from captivity, so they collected wealth from their pagan neighbors and dedicated it to the Lord.

Bible Exposition Commentary (BE Series) - Old Testament - The Bible Exposition Commentary – History.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Eternity is Secure In Christ

In addition to demonstrating a life of faithfulness to God through strenuous circumstances, the Book of Daniel also includes several chapters of prophecy concerning the end times events.

As these prophetic visions of judgment and tribulation unfolded, Daniel prayed for God's forgiveness, repeatedly confessing the sins of the people before Him (Dan 9). Among the specific things God revealed to Daniel was a time of intentional turmoil that resulted in the persecution and death of some of His people.  There is hope, through, and the time of conflict in persecution will come to an end with the vindication of the righteous.  Eternal life awaits those whose names are found written in the book, but eternal shame for those who rebelled against God.  

This eternal life was secured for us through the sacrificial life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  He is the source of ultimate hope and confidence for every believer.  we know that Jesus will come again and make eternal life in presence of God our eternal reality, and until then, we are to live out our mission being His disciples in a lost and hopeless world.

Where is your greatest hope invested?  
It in in a job?
In a relationship?

Ask the Spirit to show you where you are placing your hope and to lead to you hope in Christ above all things.

~ Robby Gallaty (Foundations - page 138)

Monday, June 26, 2017

Take a Deep Breath

I was not aware that this statement needed to be defined until I googled the statement.   Let me share with you the definition according to Miriam Webster of "take a deep breath".

Definition of take a deep breath

  1. :  to breathe deeply :  to take a lot of air into the lungs Take a deep breath and relax.
    There you have it.  So take a moment and practice.  In fact if you google take a deep breath you will see a one minute breathing exercise that plays on a loop. I don't know where this phrase was first coined.  I have heard it said to me when I was upset.  I have also set it to others when they were upset.  I am not sure the advice is ever received very well when someone is very upset and emotional.  It is good advice, but not always well received in the heat of the moment.  Like most things, the way something is delivered has a lot to do with how it is received.  
    Today as I was reading the story of Daniel found in Daniel 5-6 this phrase came to my mind.  Normally when you read these two chapters in progression at the same time you will gravitate to chapter 6 and the miracle God performed in saving Daniel from the Lions Den.  What an amazing testimony of Daniel's faith.  The governors knew He would remain obedient to GOD so they set him up. (6:5) The King acknowledged that God could save Daniel from the lions.  (6:16) Daniel was saved and because of his faith and loyalty the King ordered a new decree.  
    "I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel.  For He is THE living God, and steadfast forever; His kingdom is the one which shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall endure to the end." (6:26)
    Let's take a moment this morning to take a deep breath and look back at chapter 5.
    Daniel 5:23b  The God who holds your BREATH in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified.
    Do you see it?  Daniel was letting the King know that because he worshiped all the false gods and not the one and only true God he would be punished. The King was throwing a party to worship and praise the gods of silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood, and stone.  He had failed to give God the proper place in his life.  I find it interesting that the gods mentioned were the gods that represent wealth, money, and affluence.  This sounds like the gods of America.  This sounds like the gods we so easily worship and give value and priority to.  This sounds like this could be written to us in our culture today.  
    Belshazzar acted as though he was in command and his life would go on for many more years, yet the very breath in his mouth was controlled by the hand of God (5:23). "For in him we live, and move, and have our being" (Acts 17:28). "This night your soul will be required of you" (Luke 12:20, nkjv).
    ~ Bible Exposition Commentary (BE Series) 

    Take a Deep Breath and as you do be reminded that the ability to take that breath was given to you by God.  
    You are not in control.  You are not in charge.  You are not the boss.  Your very existence is only by the grace of God. Your ability to read this is given to you by the God.  The ability to take the deep breath IN and OUT is from God.  
    Take a deep breath and ask yourself...Do I give God the proper place of priority in MY life?

Friday, June 23, 2017


The story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego is one of the most told stories in the Bible, especially to kids.  What and amazing story of faith and courage.  These three young Hebrew boys who were pulled from their home, families, and country show amazing faith.  They stood up to the King.  They had the courage to do the right thing even if it cost them their life.

After they refused to worship the image of the King they were brought before him.  The law stated that whoever did not worship the image would be IMMEDIATELY thrown into the fire.  (3:6)  The King was going to give them another chance.  They told the King we don't need another chance because we have made up our mind.  We are not going to bow and worship the image.  We will only worship the Lord our God.

The King is filled with pride.  He declares that no god an save you from me.  (3:15)  They speak of their confidence that God has the power to save them.  They state that even IF he does not save them, He has the power to.

The story of course ends with God saving them.  In fact the LORD is in the fire with them.  The King changes his mind and humbles himself.  He states that all should worship the God of these boys is greater than all gods.  WOW!  What a change of heart.  What an impact these three young men had on the KING and on that nation.

"They were EMPLOYED by the king but they SERVED the KING OF KINGS."

"God didn't protect them FROM the fire, but He did protect them IN the fire."


1.  Don't Compromise. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5, I Corinthians 15:58)
2.  Don't Conform (Romans 12:1-2)

When you take a stand in faith and you don't compromise or conform God will be glorified.

Your TEST can me HIS TESTIMONY and your MESS can be HIS MESSAGE.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Daniel Purposed in His Heart...

Every culture has multiple gods.  Last month as I walked around the acropolis of Athens and Corinth I was reminded of all the ancient gods of Greece.  We saw the ruins of the Temple of Zeus.  We saw all the statues, read the mythology, and walked through the garden of the Kings.

Remember the first commandment?  Thou shalt have NO other gods before me.  The Israelites were surrounded with Polytheistic nations.  The people that influenced the nation of Israel worshiped many gods.  How could Israel fall into worship of these false gods?

Last night in our Wednesday night Bible study we looked at Psalm 86. David was in a desperate time and He cried out to God.  He made some amazing statements about who God is and what He believed about God.

Psalm 86:8
Among the gods there is none like You, O Lord.  Nor are there any words like Your works.

Psalm 86:10
For You are great, and do wondrous things; YOU ALONE ARE GOD.

As believers of the Bible and those who claim to be Christians we are Monotheistic.  We believe in one God.  We believe the LORD is the one and only TRUE God.  The all-powerful one.  The God who is sovereign over all things.

We have not been raised in what we would call a Polytheistic belief system.  However, let's think through this.  We may not claim to worship a god of rain, or water, or the sun.  But do we give our worship, attention, priority, and resources to other things (gods)?  The answer is YES!   We worship, sports, athletes, actors, money, power, prestige, kids, houses, and the list could go on and on.

David made the declaration of who he believed God.  His believe lead to action.  The action was to pursue God.

Psalm 86:11
Teach me your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name. 
Psalm 86:12
I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, and I will glorify Your name forevermore.

What you believe is revealed in your actions.
You say you love God, but what do your actions reveal?
You say God is your priority but look at your schedule?

What does this have to do with our reading of Daniel 1-2 this morning?  Great question.

Daniel was pulled out of his home.  Daniel was a young man in a strange culture without his family.  He was placed into a Polytheistic culture.  A culture that worshiped many gods.  In this new culture he would have to make a choice.  He would have to LIVE out what he believed or he would conform to the image of this world he was now in.  What would he do?  What would you do?  His actions will reveal what he believed about God.

Daniel  1:8a
But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the Kings delicacies, nor with the whine he drank...

Daniel made a stand in the culture.  Daniel purposed in his heart that he would actually live out what he claimed to believe about God.

How about you today?
What gods have taken priority in your life?
What things have you given the place reserved for god?
Your life reveals your gods?

You need to PURPOSE in your heart to FOLLOW God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind.  Will YOU?

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

From Death to Life

From Death to Life

With the fall of Jerusalem, the people of Judah were exiled to Babylon.  The prophet Ezekiel delivered God's messages to His people while they were in exile, and he was in exile himself.  

At the heart of Ezekiel's prophecy is God's deliverance and restoration of His people (Ezek. 36:24-36).  That God preserved a remnant of exiles from the Northern and Southern Kingdoms remind us that He never allowed His people to be completely destroyed.  Even though the ultimate consequence of sin is death, God kept a remnant for His glory and the good of the world.

This restoration was the imagery behind Ezekiel's vision of the valley of dry bones in chapter 37.  Instead of decomposition, God composes.  Instead of decay, God restores.  Through the power and truth of the Word of God and the presence of the Holy Spirit, you and I are becoming more alive each day, much like these dry bones.  

When we become Christians, God raises us from spiritual death.  As our old nature is dying, our new nature is growing, and God is putting His words in our mouths so we can offer a message of hope and life within a world of death and decay.

If the message that brings life from death is the message of the gospel, who is one person in your sphere of influence who needs to hear this message?

~ Robby Gallaty (Foundations, page 134)

Monday, June 19, 2017

Be Encouraged - God Has A Plan

Jeremiah's word of encouragement (vv. 1-14).

Sometime after the deportation in 597, Jeremiah sent a letter to the exiles in Babylon to tell them how to behave in their new land. A man with the heart of a true shepherd, Jeremiah wanted to enlighten them and encourage them in their life in Babylon. Governed by special laws concerning clean and unclean things, the Jewish people would have a difficult time adjusting to a pagan society. Jeremiah wanted them to be good witnesses to the idolatrous Babylonians, and he also wanted them to be good Jews even though separated from their temple and its services. He addressed himself to the needs of three kinds of people.

Those with no hope (vv. 4-6)
The exiles had lost everything but their lives and what few possessions they could carry with them to Babylon. They'd lost their freedom and were now captives. They'd been taken from their homes and had lost their means of making a living. They were separated from relatives and friends, some of whom may have perished in the long march from Jerusalem to Babylon. No matter how they looked at it, the situation seemed hopeless.

How should we handle such a depressing situation? Accept it from the hand of God (v. 4) and let God have His way. It does no good to hang our harps on the willow trees and sit around and weep, although this may be a temporary normal reaction to tragedy (Ps. 137:1-4). One of the first steps in turning tragedy into triumph is to accept the situation courageously and put ourselves into the hands of a loving God, who makes no mistakes.

Those with false hopes (Jer. 29:6-9). 
The false prophets had convinced the people that the stay in Babylon would be a brief one, perhaps two years (vv. 8-9). Thus, there was no need to settle down and try to resume a normal life, but Jeremiah told them just the opposite. Since they would be there as long as seventy years (v. 10), there was plenty of time to build houses and set up homes. It was important that the exiles have families so there would be people available to return to Judea when the Captivity ended. This small Jewish remnant was holding in its hands the future of God's great plan of salvation, and they must obey Him, be fruitful, and multiply (v. 6).

It would be easy for the Jews to wage constant warfare against their idolatrous Gentile captors, but Jeremiah instructed them to strive to get along with the Babylonians. The exiles were to be peacemakers, not troublemakers, and they were to pray sincerely for their enemies (Matt. 5:43-48; 1 Tim. 2:1-3; Titus 3:1-2). 

It was possible to be good Jews even in a pagan land. Remember, if we reject the wooden yoke of submission, we end up wearing only an iron yoke of subjugation (Jer. 28:12-14). Thus, the best course is to yield ourselves to the Lord and to those who are over us, no matter how badly they may treat us. (See Peter's counsel to Christian slaves in 1 Peter 2:18-25.) To indulge in false hopes is to miss what God has planned for us.

Those who have true hope (vv. 10-14).
True hope is based on the revealed Word of God, not on the "dream messages" of self-appointed prophets (v. 10, niv). God gave His people a "gracious promise" (v. 10, niv) to deliver them, and He would keep His promise. God makes His plans for His people, and they are good plans that ultimately bring hope and peace. Therefore, there is no need to be afraid or discouraged.

In every situation, however, God's people have the responsibility to seek the Lord, pray, and ask Him to fulfill His promises, for the Word and prayer go together (Acts 6:4). The purpose of chastening is that we might seek the Lord, confess our sins, and draw near to Him (Heb. 12:3-13). According to Jeremiah 29:14, these promises reach beyond the Jews captive in Babylon and include all of Israel throughout the world. Jeremiah was looking ahead to the end of the age when Israel will be regathered to meet their Messiah and enter their kingdom (Isa. 10:20-12:6).

Bible Exposition Commentary (BE Series) - Old Testament - The Bible Exposition Commentary – The Prophets.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Cheap Substitutes

During our weekly Bible study last night at church we were discussing Psalm 84.  The first four verses reveal the Psalmist desperation to be with the Lord.  The Psalmist delighted and desired to be in the house of God.  The discussion lead us to talk about our desires, and our appetites.  My Mom used to say, "don't eat that you will ruin your appetite".  Honestly though I always got a new appetite quickly.  Jesus said in Matthew that we are to Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness and if we do we will be filled or satisfied.

This discussion lead us to ask the question, Do we delight and desire to be with the Lord?
Which lead to the next question, what robs or steals our appetite for God?

Today in the reading of Jeremiah 1-3:5 this thought came back into my head.

Jeremiah 2:13 (NKJV)
13  "For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns--broken cisterns that can hold no water. 

Jeremiah 2:13 (ESV)
13  for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. 

Jeremiah 2:13 (NLT)
13  “For my people have done two evil things: They have abandoned me— the fountain of living water. And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all!

Cheap Substitutes.

The nation of Israel had traded living water for broken useless pots that could not even hold water.  I believe we do the same thing.  We exchange our relationship with God for so many other things.

We pursue the things of this world instead of the God of this world.
We pursue the blessings of God instead of the God of the blessings.
We have substituted eternal treasure for temporal pleasure.

This manifest itself in so many ways.  I believe the most effective way to evaluate if you have traded in the living water for broken pots is to check two areas of your life.

1.  Your finances.
2.  Your schedule.

Ask yourself the tough questions.
Evaluate your desires.
Evaluate your family schedule.
Check your life for CHEAP SUBSTITUTES.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

What Do You Love?

What do you love?
What holds the biggest part of your heart?

Love, and the ability to love is amazing.  We have an enormous capacity to love.  I remember when our son was born and I could not imagine I had room to love another child.  How quickly that changed the first time I heard my daughter's voice.  I realized my capacity to love was greater than I thought possible.

With the ability to love so deeply on the earth comes with it dangers.  We can love the wrong things.  We can love things or people in an unhealthy way.  We can love temporary things more than eternal things.  I often wonder why God gave us the ability to love so deeply the things of this world when He  told us to love him above all.

Deuteronomy 6:4-6 
4  "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!
5  You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
6  "And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.  

Luke 10:27 
27  So he answered and said, "'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,' and 'your neighbor as yourself.' " 

Matthew 22:37 
37  Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' 

Mark 12:29-31
29  Jesus answered him, "The first of all the commandments is: 'Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one.
30  And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment.
31  And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."

Today in our reading of 2 Kings 22-23 we read of King Josiah.  He was the king of JUDAH.  He became King at the age of 8 and he was King of Judah for 31 years.

2 Kings 22:2 
2  And he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in all the ways of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.

This doesn't seem like a bid deal until you realize Josiah was not like most of the Kings of Judah or Israel.  Most of the Kings of Judah did not serve God.  Most of them allowed, encouraged, and worshiped false gods.  Josiah destroyed all the false idols and places of worship.  A young man becomes the leader of the Kingdom of Judah and realizes that those who have come before him are not honoring the Lord.  He cleanses the places of worship and encourages everyone to repent and turn back to God.  Unfortunately they don't listen and God's judgment comes upon the nation.

2 Kings 23:25 
25  Now before him there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses; nor after him did any arise like him.

WHAT a statement of who he is and his character.  He loved the Lord with all his heart, soul, and might.  The King, a young man, has the courage to stand against the world.  He stands against all who  loved the things of this world more than they loved God.  
We live in a culture that is very similar.
We have many false gods.
We worship many things more than we worship God.
We fear other gods.
We have given our devotion, our love, our hearts to temporary things.

I pray we will repent and turn to the Lord with all our heart, soul, and might.

So I ask you again, What Do You Love?