E-Message Bible/Commentary

"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." --- Psalm 119:105

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Keep Me From Harm
Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying "Oh that you would bless me indeed and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from hurt and harm!" (1 Chronicles 4:10)

It is good to pray God's protection around yourself at all times. Others might pray for you, but don't rely solely on their prayers. Speak to God often about the plans He has for you. Upon arising each morning, thank Him for the day, and dedicate your activities to Him. Invite Him into everything you do. Pray that He will put you in the path of the right people and you will do only what is pleasing to Him. It is good to pray God's protection around you because you do not know what dangers lie ahead.

On my way home a few nights ago after teaching a New Testament class at a local university, my belief in the power of God's protection around me was heightened after experiencing a close encounter with death. I drove behind a pickup truck loaded with planks for a while, and the second I changed lanes I saw through my rearview mirror the planks sliding off the truck. If I had delayed changing lanes for one second, the planks would have gone straight through my windshield and out my rear window along with my head and other body parts.

What made me change lanes when I did? It was God's power and protection because I meditated on Him before the danger came and had already prayed that He would keep me from harm!

How Your Territory Can Be Enlarged
Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, "Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my territory!" (1 Chronicles 4:10a)

I get my inspiration for these E-Messages when I see or hear something that makes me think theologically. Over the Thanksgiving holiday I saw and heard quite a bit that made me think theologically. One such incident involves a story my sister Linda from Hyattsville, Maryland told.

Linda related and demonstrated how she had seen the matriarch of an Indian tribe dance. At first the woman danced extremely slow standing in one place while barely moving. People began to throw money at her feet. Then she began to dance on the money. As she expanded her circle, the money kept increasing, and she picked up her pace to almost being in a frenzy. This went on for an extended period of time, and by the time she had finished, her circle had been enlarged to the maximum, and every inch of it was covered with bills that her feet had touched.

What's theological about that? What's the life application? Nothing or not much happens when we stand still. As soon as we begin to move in the direction God wants us go, things quickly happen toward helping us meet our goal(s). Notice, when the matriarch danced close to where she stood, the money came in slowly because she was dancing slowly. When she picked up the pace and began spinning around, two things happened.  Her circle became larger and she received more money at a rapid speed.

Do you want your territory to be enlarged? Do you want more prosperity? Begin moving where you are and then pick up the pace.

Careful Obedience
When all the work Solomon had done for the temple of the Lord was finished, he brought in the things his father David had dedicated and placed them in the treasuries of the temple. (2 Chronicles 5:1)

Solomon and his workers carefully followed God's instructions for building the temple. As a result, the work was blessed by God Himself. If God inspected your work, would He find it complete in every detail? Would He bless it because you have not cut corners? Would He bless it because you have been careful in your obedience to follow His instructions to the letter?

Adam and Eve were not careful in their obedience and brought sin into the world. (Genesis 3:24) Nadab and Abihu were not careful in their obedience and they were struck dead. (Leviticus 10:2) Moses was not careful in his obedience and he was not allowed to enter the promised land. (Numbers 20:12) Saul was not careful in his obedience and God ended his reign on the throne. (1 Samuel 15:16-26) Uzzah was not careful in his obedience and he died instantly. (2 Samuel 6:7) Uzziah was not careful in his obedience and he became a leper. (2 Chronicles 26:19)

There is always a punishment associated with disobedience. Don't ever think God turns His head and forgets your disobedience and unrepented sin. Repent now and ask God to forgive you for those sins you have committed...even the ones you have swept under the rug. If not, punishment is still in store for you

When . . . If . . . Then
When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, 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." (2 Chronicles 7:13-14)

How many times have you quoted part of this scripture starting with "if my people . . ."? If you have ever done so, try never to do it that way again. When you do so, you miss the first one-third of the sentence. The emphasis should be on all three words in this conditional promise: "when" "if" and "then" and not merely on "if" and "then."

This complete sentence (I Chronicles 7:13-14) must be considered in order to get the proper meaning. Israel had turned away from God, so God gave this promise to Solomon. God said WHEN He shut up heaven and does not send rain, there would be a drought. He said WHEN He commands the locusts to eat up all the land, or WHEN He sends pestilence among His people, the land could be healed. How? It could be healed only IF Israel would do four things: (1) humble themselves; (2) pray; (3) seek God's face; and (4) turn from their wicked ways. It would only be THEN that God would hear from heaven and do two things: (1) forgive their sin; and (2) heal their land that had been destroyed by the drought, locusts and pestilence among them.

Even though this was a conditional promise for Israel, does this conditional promise apply to us today? Does God say, "When...If...Then" to us? Yes, God does! The basic concept behind God's promise to Israel can be applied to our own situations. 

God tells us WHEN we sin, He will send circumstances our way. IF we meet His conditions, THEN He will heal what ails us as well. It might not be land. It could be home, work, church, community, relationships or finances.

If you want to be renewed or restored from unpleasant situations right now, apply this "When...If...Then" principle.

National Day of Prayer
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, forgive their sin and heal their land.(2 Chronicles 7:14)

Today, May 3, 2007, has been designated National Day of Prayer focusing on the above scripture found in 2 Chronicles 7:14. The background for this scripture involves the rebellious nation of Israel. As punishment for their sins, God withheld rain making it impossible for crops to grow. Without crops there was no food, and without food, the people would perish. However, God gave them a way of escape. Second Chronicles 7:14 can be explained this way with emphasis on the healing of the land for the entire nation. Notice the "If...Then" condition of this scripture.

IF . . . the condition
my people . . . corporately
who are called by my name . . . the nation of Israel then; the church today
will humble themselves . . . submit to His will
and pray . . . ask for His intercession and divine intervention
and seek my face . . . desire His sovereignty
and turn from their wicked ways . . . confess and repent [End of the "IF" condition]
THEN will I hear from heaven . . . God's commitment
forgive their sin . . His response
and heal their land . . . that's His promise to restore the means for crops to grow again.

Surely, the emphasis was on the healing of the land at the time these words were originally spoken. Today, the emphasis might be on whatever needs to be fixed in order for God to bring healing in the bad places of our lives both corporately and individually.

On this National Day of Prayer, "Let us pray . . ."

Do-It-Yourself Fame
And David became more and more powerful because the Lord Almighty was with him. (1 Chronicles 11:9)
King Saul's power and fame decreased because he wanted all the credit for himself and ignored God. In contrast, King David's power and fame increased as a direct result of his consistent trust in God. Those who are concerned about building a name for themselves risk losing the very recognition they crave.

Like David, we should be concerned more about righteousness, honesty, and excellence, and leave the fame and glory to God.

When We Think Our Punishment Is Unjust
When they came to the threshing floor of Kidon, Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the ark because the oxen stumbled. The Lord's anger burned against Uzzah and he struck him down because he put his hand on the ark. So he died there before the Lord. (1 Chronicles 13:9-10)

You probably have read the story about the death of Uzzah and wondered why he was struck down because he put his hand on the ark to keep it from falling. Many think it was a good thing to keep the ark from falling; however, there is more to that story.

God had given specific instructions about the care and transport of the ark. Only the priests could handle it. And then only after they had offered sacrifices for themselves and their families. (Leviticus 16). The ark was to be lifted by the priests, not with hands, but with acacia poles that went through the rings on the four corners. The priests were to carry the ark on their shoulders, or they would die. (Numbers 4:15, 7:9)

Uzzah was a priest and had grown up in a priestly family as a descendant of Aaron. So he knew God's commandment concerning the ark, but he exchanged God's commandments for his own convenience and allowed the ark to be carried on a wagon driven by oxen instead of being carried on poles on the priests' shoulders. No sacrifice was offered before the transport of the ark.  Surely God's anger burned when Uzzah touched the ark, but if all the other commandments had been followed, the touching would have been unnecessary.

Uzzah's good intentions could not make up for his carelessness. The throne of God was not lifted high on the shoulders of priests as it should have been. God's presence was lowered to a wagon driven by oxen like the pagan Philistines had done (I Samuel 6:10-11). This whole scene angered God, but He acted only when the ark was touched as it began to fall.

We tend to look at the last thing we do and attribute that to our unjust punishment. However, our disobedience started when we first violated God's instructions. God might be withholding His judgment from you right now; however, you might be just one touch away from God's wrath.

Boss or Leader?
God is with us; he is our leader. (2 Chronicles 13:12)

Do you know the difference between being a boss and a leader? Consider these ten traits that were passed on to me. Perhaps they will help you in some way.
  1. A BOSS creates fear in a staff. A LEADER builds confidence.
  2. A BOSS says, "I." A LEADER says, "We."
  3. A  BOSS knows how a job should be done. A LEADER shows how a career should be forged.
  4. A BOSS relies on authority. A LEADER relies on cooperation.
  5. A BOSS drives. A LEADER leads.
  6. A BOSS fixes blame. A LEADER solves problems and fixes mistakes.
  7. A BOSS rules over the problem 10 percent of the workforce. A LEADER works alongside the cooperative 90 percent.
  8. A BOSS eventually causes resentment to grow. A LEADER fosters growing enthusiasm.
  9. A BOSS makes work drudgery. A LEADER makes works interesting.
  10. A BOSS sees problems as disasters that will destroy the company. A LEADER sees problems as opportunities that a united staff can overcome and turn into growth.
Are you a BOSS? Or are you a LEADER?

When You Don't Inquire of God
So David inquired of God again and God answered him. (I Chronicles 14:14)

While we might mean to include God into our plans, sometimes we neglect to do so. Our plans fail because of this one thing that has been forgotten. We don't include God in our plans, and we don't inquire of the Lord. Notice in the above scripture, the word "again" indicates that this was not the first time David had inquired of the Lord. He made it a habit to inquire of the Lord.

A young couple couldn't understand how they began fighting after being married for only one month when they were so much in love before the wedding. An executive could not find peace in the job he had been seeking all his life. An elderly couple was most miserable in their new dream house.  What is wrong with all these scenarios? In each case, the individuals received what they thought they wanted, but God was missing out of each story. No one inquired of the Lord. No one sought God's guidance. No one invited God into their plans.

So it is with us. We make all our plans without including God. Then we wonder why the plans don't work. They don't work because of one EGO. That means Easing God Out. If you want all of your plans to be established. Make God a part of everything you do. "Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will be established."
More Than Just Thanks
O give thanks to the Lord! Call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples? (1 Chronicles 16:8)
Does it ever seem that a simple "thank you" to God is not enough to express your appreciation? Two elements of true thanksgiving are found in this scripture:
  1. remembering what God has done; and
  2. telling others about it.
Get into the habit of fully expressing your thanks to God.

What To Do When We Don't Know What To Do
We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you. (2 Chronicles 20:12)

Have you ever been in a situation when you didn't know what to do? And you didn't know where to turn? And worst of all, you didn't know who to trust? Undoubtedly, all of us have been in that position, So what should we do when we don't know what to do?

We should not run to ungodly friends for advice because each one will tell us something different that is not based on the word of God, and we will be more confused than we were at first. However, there are times when godly counselors are recommended. We should not call the physic hotline. We should not read horoscopes for answers. We should not consult ouija boards, palm readers or soothsayers. These will only bring curses on our lives and make matters worst than the original problem. (Leviticus 19:31; Leviticus 20:6) So what should we do when we don't know what to do?

According to the above scripture, the first step is to ADMIT we don't know what to do. There is no need to fumble around pretending we know what to do when we don't. Our admitting to God we don't know what to do lets God know we are letting go and letting God take over. (The sooner we do this, the better it will be for us). Secondly, we should keep our eyes upon God our Father, our Creator, our Sustainer, our Provider. There is absolutely no way possible to keep our eyes upon God and our head hung down at the same time.

Amazingly, what we should do when we don't know what to do is the SAME thing we should do when we know what to do. The solution doesn't change; we just have to be reminded of it.

The answer is simple. When we don't know what to do, let's do these two things in this order:
  1. ADMIT WE DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO. (2 Chronicles 20:12)
  2. KEEP OUR EYES UPON GOD. (2 Chronicles 20:12)

It's A Sacrifice When . . .
But King David replied to Araunah, "No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing." (1 Chronicles 21:24)
EVERTHING you do in the name of God is NOT a sacrifice unless it cost you something. A sacrifice is the giving up of something highly valuable for the sake of someone or something considered to have a greater value. A sacrifice also can be defined as something you give away at a loss. In order for something to be sacrificial, it must be something that you treasure. Otherwise, it's not sacrificial. Giving from your excess is NOT sacrificial because you will not miss it. In order for it to be sacrificial, you must give out of your own need. Having ten suits and giving away one is NOT sacrificial. It is sacrificial when you have only one and you give that one away. The widow gave a sacrificial offering because she had only two copper coins worth only a fraction of a penny, and she gave them away. "Jesus said she gave more than all the others because they gave out of their wealth; but she gave out of her poverty. She put in all she had to live on" (Mark 12:42).
Therefore, it's a sacrifice when you give your self, time, or money even though you don't have much to give. It's a sacrifice when you give willingly and voluntarily without force. It's a sacrifice when what you give demonstrates a commitment to the giver. It's a sacrifice when it comes from true love and obedience. It's a sacrifice when you lay aside your own desires for a greater cause such as following Jesus.
What Did God Say?
Be careful to follow all the commands of the Lord your God, that you may possess this good land, and pass it on as an inheritance as an inheritance to your descendants forever. (1 Chronicles 28:8 NIV)
David told his son, Solomon to search out and follow every one of God's commands to ensure Israel's prosperity and the continuation of David's descendants upon the throne. It was the duty of the king to study and obey God's laws. The teachings of Scripture are the keys to our security, happiness, and justice, but we will never discover them unless we search God's Word and become aware of what God said about an issue.
If God's will is ignored and His teaching neglected, anything we attempt to do, even in the name of God, will end in collapse. Get to know what God said through regular Bible study and through daily reading of your Bible. Then be careful to do everything written in it (Joshua 1:8b).
Thank You, Lord!
And now, our God, we give thanks to you and praise your glorious name. (1 Chronicles 29:13)
God very much delights Himself in being part of your planning. For your plans to be successful from the beginning to the end, you must invite God at the beginning. Do not wait until you encounter problems. When God is included from the beginning, you will find that things will go exceptionally well. Often times either God is NOT invited or He is invited at the last minute. The first rule for anything to be successful is to invite God to be an intricate part of your planning.
Then begin to thank God even before your plans are finished. Thank Him for the results you want. Offer thanks to God continually. To show Him thanks for being invited initially, He will manifest Himself mightily throughout your planning stages. Then at the end all you have to do is reflect on how successful your plans were and simply say, "Thank You, Lord!"

As soon as the order went out, the Israelites generously gave the firstfruits of their grain, new wine, oil and honey and all that the fields produced. They brought a great amount, a tithe of everything. (2 Chronicles 31:5)

Since the new year is just beginning, we will hear a lot about firstfruits (one word, please). What then, is the meaning of firstfruits?

The Feast of Firstfruits took place at the very beginning of the barley harvest for the Israelites. Barley was the first crop to become ripe and ready for harvest in the year, so the beginning of the barley harvest was the beginning of the whole harvest. Bread and other foods were made from barley. Therefore, to give it away was a sacrifice. The very first sheaf (or sheath) of barley to be harvested, instead of being used for food, was taken to the priest, who waved it in front of the veil that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place, symbolically offering it to God.

The offering of the first sheaf symbolized that the whole of the harvest belonged to God, and there were to be many more sheaves to be reaped and brought in from the fields. The first sheaf was the guarantee that there would be a full harvest.

What does all this mean for us who do not live in a farming community? We, too, should give God the FIRST that comes to us. (Examples: your first week's pay, fasting the first month of the year, spending the first hour of the day in prayer, etc.).

Like the Israelites offering the first sheaf of barley to God before they cut anything for themselves, let us offer to God our firstfruits. When we give God our first at the beginning of 2007, God has promised us that we will be blessed and prosperous all year.

When God Withdraws From Us
God withdrew from him, in order to test him, that He might know all that was in his heart. (2 Chronicles 32:31)

We don't like to think about God withdrawing Himself from us especially since He promised to never leave us nor forsake us. It is true God will NEVER leave us, but sometimes He might withdraw from us.

God tests us in many ways. Sometimes through His presence; sometimes through silence; and sometimes through "withdrawing." King Hezekiah knew about God's withdrawal because God withdrew from him in order to test him that He might know all that was in his heart. When the Babylonians came to hear about the miracle God had done in Judah, Hezekiah showed them his riches instead of focusing on God. Because of his foolish focus, God did not protect Hezekiah from the consequences. The Babylonians took Israel's wealth as well as making the Israelites prisoners. The outcome would have been different had King Hezekiah put his focus where it belonged...on God and the work of God in his life.

When we take our focus off God, God will withdraw to test us so we can prove what is really in our heart... our riches or His riches!


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