#178: The King Who Achieved Much but Died of Pride

Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known

He should have known better. He was well educated. He had all the wisdom of the wise men available to him. He had wise counselors. At the very least, he should have learned from the bad example of his father. But he didn’t.

2 Chronicles 26:16, Pride

Pride, the sin that is so common to man, caused his downfall. Some 200 years before, Solomon wrote this stern warning to leaders, Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).

Ahaziah should have had that Proverb written in big letters on a piece of parchment hanging on the wall behind his desk.

Ahaziah was only 16 years old when his father, the king of Judah, foolishly engaged in battle with the Israelites and was taken captive. Ahaziah whose name meant “Jehovah has helped” was made king of Judah. As king, he changed his name to Uzziah which means “Jehovah is strength.”

A Successful Starting Point

Uzziah started out great. As a young king, Uzziah did right in following the Lord (2 Chronicles 26:4), and sought God throughout the life of his counselor Zechariah (26:5), and the Lord gave him success:

  • He was an accomplished military leader.
    • Uzziah was able to recover the city of Elath.
    • He went on to secure military victories over the Philistines, Arabians, and the Ammonites.
    • He built up a well-trained army and equipped them with weapons and armor.
    • Uzziah built war machines that could shoot arrows and catapults that could hurl large stones.
  • He was a builder.
    • In addition to the war machines, Uzziah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem to protect the city.
    • He built cities in the territories he conquered and settled them.
    • He built towers in the fields and stationed guards to protect the farmers and herdsmen
  • He increased economic trade
    • The city of Elath gave the people of Judah a major seaport for trade.
    • The Philistine lands he conquered gave the people of Judah additional trade routes and seaport trade.
  • He supported agriculture.
    • Uzziah built cisterns for water.
    • He assigned people to work the fields, vineyards, flocks, and herds.

A Dangerous Turning Point

Over time, Uzziah became strong because of the Lord’s blessing on him and his fame spread throughout the land.

In arrogance and pride, Uzziah decided he wanted to not only be a king but also to be a priest ministering before the Lord. Only Levites were allowed to be priests and Uzziah was not a Levite.

The high priest and 80 other priests stood before Uzziah and bravely told him not to enter the temple to offer incense to the Lord.

Uzziah was furious with the priests and was intent on offering incense to the Lord when the Lord suddenly struck him with leprosy. The priests rushed him out of the sanctuary of the temple.

A Sad Ending Point

Uzziah lived the rest of his life in isolation with leprosy. He was not allowed in public. He had no access to the temple or even the palace of the king. His son, Jotham became king and ruled over Judah.

When Uzziah died, he was buried in the royal cemetery but not in the tombs of the kings of Judah.

Lessons for Leaders

Uzziah should have been humbled by the Lord’s blessings on his life and the people of Judah. The Lord blessed him with military victories, new territories, and the opportunity to rebuild the economy and infrastructure of the kingdom of Judah.

Instead of being humbled and gracious for the Lord’s blessings he became arrogant and prideful. He became so full of himself that he even angrily rejected the warnings of the high priest.

Then, when God struck him with leprosy he never repented of his actions. His stubborn pride caused him to live the rest of his days in isolation, cut-off from the very people the Lord had given him to lead as king.

Success is often followed by prideful arrogance and ambition. We forget it was the Lord who blessed us in the first place, and we think we achieved our success based on our own effort.

Solomon was right, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Do you know leaders who pridefully believe their success accrues only to their efforts? Did their pride bring about their fall?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Dependence on God

 

#177: Pray and Trust God. Has it Really Come to That?

Life is full of setbacks, trials, and disappointments. That light at the end of the tunnel? It’s another train.

Pray and Trust God

People we care about and trust will turn against us. People will ridicule us and lie about us. All manner of evil people will oppose us hoping to prevent us from fulfilling God’s call on our lives.

It is, in this fallen world, an unfortunate fact of life.

What are we to do in the midst of trials and tribulation?

Our natural inclination (at least mine) is to take the bull by the horns and continue on my path under my own power. I find myself following the motto, “If it is to be it is up to me.”

But what happens when we charge off on our own? We leave God behind!

Sometimes I’m a painfully slow learner but I’ve discovered leaving God behind is never a good idea.

To keep the train metaphor going, sometimes I’m the engine and God isn’t even part of the train. Sometimes I’m the engine and I invite God along but I put Him last. I’m in trouble when I’m the engine and God is the caboose.

God needs to be first in my life’s journey.

One of my favorite Bible characters is Nehemiah. Nehemiah is an inspiration to me because he faced all kinds of trials and never lost sight of God’s call on his life.

Let’s look back at Nehemiah to see how he responded to some of the problems he faced in rebuilding the city of Jerusalem.

Devastating News. Nehemiah received devastating news about the condition of the city of Jerusalem and the people living there.

Nehemiah’s Response. Nehemiah grieved, fasted, and prayed for several days (Nehemiah 1:4).

Ridiculed. Enemies of the Jews ridiculed them for attempting to rebuild the city of Jerusalem.

Nehemiah’s Response. Nehemiah prayed and the people worked even harder to rebuild the city wall.

Outright opposition. Incensed at the progress on the wall, their enemies plotted to fight the Jews to stop the work.

Nehemiah’s Response. Nehemiah prayed and posted guards to protect the workers (Nehemiah 4:9).

Slandered. Nehemiah’s enemies spread lies about him saying he was planning to rebel against the king.

Nehemiah’s Response. Nehemiah denied the slanderous attacks and prayed (Nehemiah 6:9).

Attempt to Discredit. Nehemiah’s enemies tried to trick him into running and hiding and thus discredit him in the eyes of the people.

Nehemiah’s Response. Nehemiah refused to be intimidated and prayed (Nehemiah 6:14).

Not all of Nehemiah’s problems came from his enemies. Some of his problems came from the very people he was trying to help.

People neglected their offerings. Nehemiah discovered the Levites had not received their offerings from the people, so the Levites had left to work their own fields.

Nehemiah’s Response. Nehemiah rebuked the city officials, called the Levites back their duties and prayed (Nehemiah 13:14).

People working on the Sabbath. Nehemiah discovered the people were treading grapes, bringing goods into the city, and selling food on the Sabbath.

Nehemiah’s Response. Nehemiah rebuked the people, stationed guards at the city gates to stop the import of goods on the Sabbath, and prayed (Nehemiah 13:14).

Intermarriage with Gentiles. Nehemiah found out some of the Jews had married Gentile women. One of the men was the son of the high priest who had married the daughter of one of Nehemiah’s enemies.

Nehemiah’s Response. Nehemiah rebuked the people who married Gentile women, removed the guilty priest from leadership, and prayed (Nehemiah 13:29).

The Common Denominator

Nehemiah dealt with some tough situations! He received devastating news about his people. He was ridiculed, he was opposed at every turn, and he was slandered. His enemies even tried to convince him to run and hide for his life. If all the external issues were not enough, Nehemiah also had to deal with his own people not obeying God.

Throughout all these trials and tribulations Nehemiah never lost site of the work God had called him to do. With great courage, he persevered against every external and internal challenge.

What sustained him you ask? How was he able to keep his focus on the work God had given him? Did you notice the recurring theme in each of the situations that confronted Nehemiah?

He prayed and trusted God.

The best way to deal with the challenges we face in life is to come to God in prayer. Yes, folks, it’s come to that. We need to pray and trust God. When we do, what we will find is that light at the end of the tunnel is God directing our path.

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. Why do you think we sometimes try to deal with life’s challenges on your own power, without God?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Dependence on God

 

 

 

 

 

 

#175: Responding to the Rabshakeh Who Tries to Destroy You or Your Organization

Last week we looked at six different tactics someone might use to destroy you as a leader or your organization (Click here to read):

Rabeshakeh Organization
  • He will tell you you’re not good enough.
  • He will try to convince you the Lord doesn’t care about you.
  • He will try to convince you he is acting on behalf of God.
  • He will try to bring enmity between you and your organization.
  • He will spread lies about you.
  • He will try to convince your organization things will be better if they will just follow him.

We illustrated each of these tactics through the story of King Hezekiah of Judah (2 Kings 18-19).

The Rabshakeh came to Jerusalem and stood outside the city gates and gave a long speech to all the leaders and others who could hear. He said they could never withstand an attack. God would not protect them, and in fact, he claimed the Lord had sent him to destroy them. Then he tried to pit the people against their leaders. He claimed Hezekiah was deceiving them. And finally, he promised great rewards and comfort if they would just surrender.

Let’s look back now at King Hezekiah to see how he dealt with the Rabshakeh.

Hezekiah Refused to Be Intimidated

Three top officers of the Assyrian government along with a large army positioned themselves just a few miles from Jerusalem.  The Assyrians had first demanded a large ransom payment in return for not attacking and now they were preparing to attack. When the three officials showed up outside the city gates, Hezekiah refused to meet with them. He had no reason to believe anything they said.

Hezekiah’s First Response

Hezekiah’s first command, before the Rabshakeh even started his speech, was to the leaders and people. He commanded them to say nothing in response to the Rabshakeh but to simply listen and report to him.

When the Rabshakeh’s speech was reported to Hezekiah, Hezekiah went into the Lord’s temple. He then sent two officials to tell the prophet Isaiah about the threats from the Assyrians and asked Isaiah to pray to the Lord to save the people of Jerusalem.

Hezekiah’s Second Response

The Rabshakeh then sent a letter to Hezekiah restating his threats against the people of Jerusalem. He listed all the countries they had conquered as examples of how hopeless it would be to rely on God to save them.

Hezekiah took the letter and went into the Lord’s temple and spread it out before the Lord. Hezekiah prayed over the letter to the Lord asking the Lord to destroy the Assyrians so that all the nations would know that the Lord was the one true God.

God responded to Hezekiah’s prayer through the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah reported the Lord’s answer to Hezekiah saying the Lord himself would do battle against the Assyrians, defeating them.

That night the Lord did indeed decimate the Assyrian army and they returned home to Nineveh in defeat.

Three Important Lessons for Us

There are three important lessons for today’s leaders that we can draw from the example of Hezekiah:

  • Discernment. Hezekiah showed great discernment in not meeting with the Assyrian officials. They had lied about their intentions already. There was no reason to believe they would suddenly start speaking the truth. And as it turns out, Hezekiah was right! The minute they started to speak they spread vicious lies, slandered Hezekiah, and impugned God’s righteousness.
  • Humbled Himself and Asked God to Save Them. After hearing the Rabshakeh’s threats, Hezekiah humbled himself (tore his clothes and put on sackcloth as a sign of mourning) and asked Isaiah the prophet to intercede on behalf of the people and ask God to save them. Hezekiah knew without God’s intervention the people of Jerusalem could not stand against the Assyrians.
  • Prayed Once Again. When Hezekiah received the threatening letter he immediately went into the temple and spread the letter out before the Lord. Hezekiah personally prayed for God to hear his plea and deliver the people from the Assyrians so everyone would know that the Lord was the one true God.

In the face of an insurmountable enemy, Hezekiah refused to be intimidated, showed great discernment as a leader, humbled himself before the Lord, sought the Lord’s wisdom, and prayed for the Lord to intervene, not for his sake but for the glory of the Lord.

The world could use a few more leaders like Hezekiah today!

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. How have you dealt with a modern-day Rabshakeh who tried to attack you or your organization?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal | Dependence on God

#161: Our Passionate Response to Passion Week

Passion Week (also known as Holy Week) is the week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. It is the period of time between Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem and His resurrection.

Risen Passion

As Christians, it is important for us to understand the events of Passion Week and our response to it.

Sunday

Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:29-44, John 12:12-19)).

As He approaches the city, Jesus weeps over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-44).

Jesus visits the Temple (mark 11:11).

Jesus goes to Bethany and spends the night there (Matthew 21:17).

Monday

Jesus leaves Bethany early in the morning to return to Jerusalem. On his way, He curses the fig tree and teaches the disciples about faith (Matthew 21:18-22, Mark 11:12-14).

Jesus cleanses the Temple by driving out the moneychangers (Matthew 21:12-16, Mark 11:15-17, Luke 19:45-46).

Jesus returns to Bethany with the Disciples (Mark 11:19).

Tuesday

Jesus leaves Bethany early in the morning and notes the fig tree he cursed the day before is withered (Matthew 21:20-22, Mark 11:20-26).

As Jesus enters the Temple, His authority is questioned by the chief priests and elders (Matthew 21:23-27, Mark 11:27-33, Luke 20:1-8).

Jesus delivers the Olivet discourse as He is leaving the Temple (Matthew 24:1-25:46, Mark 13:1-37, Luke 21:5-36)

Wednesday

No activity regarding Jesus is recorded in the Gospels. He spends the day and night in Bethany.

The chief priests and elders plot to kill Jesus (Matthew 26:1-5, Mark 14:1-2, Luke 22:1-2, John 11:47-53).

Judas agrees to betray Jesus (Matthew 26:14-16, Mark 14:10-11, Luke 22:3-6, John 13:2, 27).

Thursday

Preparations are made for the Passover (Matthew 26:17-20, Mark 14:12-17, Luke 22:7-14).

Jesus washes the disciple’s feet and foretells His betrayal during the Last Supper (Matthew 26:20-35, Mark 14:17-26, Luke 22:14-30).

Jesus left with the disciples and went to the Garden of Gethsemane. He left the disciples and going a little further He prayed to the Father (Matthew 26:36-46, Mark 14:32-42, Luke 22:39-46).

Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested (Matthew 26:47-56, Mark 14:43-52, Luke 22:47-53, John 18:2-12).

Friday

Jesus endures three Jewish trials before Annas, Caiaphas, and the Sanhedrin (Matthew 26:57-27:2, Mark 14:53-15:1, Luke 22:54-71, John 18:13-24).

Jesus endures three Roman trials before Pilate, Herod, and Pilate a second time (Matthew 27:2-26, Mark 15:2-15, Luke 23:1-25, John 18:28-19:16).

Jesus is condemned, tortured, and crucified (sometime between 9:00 am and 12 noon) (Matthew 27:27-54, Mark 15:16-39, Luke 23:26-49, John 19:16-37). Darkness came over the land from noon to 3:00 pm. About 3:00 pm Jesus cried out to God and gave up His spirit.

Jesus’ death is confirmed by Pilate. Pilate gives permission to Joseph of Arimathea to bury Jesus. Jesus is buried in the evening. The stone is rolled in front of Jesus’ tomb (Matthew 27:57-66, Mark 15:42-47, Luke 23:50-54, John 19:38-42).

Saturday

Jesus’ tomb is sealed and Jewish leaders request guards be stationed in front of Jesus’ tomb (Matthew 27:62-66).

Sunday

At dawn, Mary Magdalene and Mary went to Jesus’ tomb. An angel of the Lord descended from heaven and rolled the stone away and was sitting on it when the women arrived. The angel told them Jesus had been resurrected and to go and tell the disciples (Matthew 28:1-8, Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24:1-12, John 20:1-13).

As they were going, Jesus appeared to the women (Matthew 28:9-10, Luke 24:10-11, John 20:14-18).

Jesus appears to Simon Peter (Luke 24:34), to two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35), to the disciples including Thomas (Luke 24:36-43, John 20:19-29).

Our Passionate Response

Passion Week is so named because of the passion Jesus demonstrated throughout His final week on earth. He cared so much for us that, despite knowing what lay ahead, He committed Himself to doing the will of the Father.

Jesus submitted to humiliation, torture, crucifixion, and having the weight of the sins of the world placed upon Him. Through His sacrifice as the sinless Lamb of God, we are able to stand before the Lord sinless, adopted into the Father’s family as His children.

How can we be anything less than passionate in our worship of our Lord and Savior?!

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome.

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

The timing and exact order of some events of Passion Week are difficult to determine with certainty so you may have seen events arranged in a slightly different order. Also, I have not attempted to include everything that occurred during Passion Week – only the major events that pertain to the Lord’s eventual capture and crucifixion.

Category: Personal Development | Dependence on God

 

 

 

#158: The Biggest Mistake Christians Make When Planning

Most of the business leaders I know are planners. Depending on their role in the organization their plans may be largely short-term and tactical while others are long-term strategic planners.

Mistake Planning

The same is true for many of the leaders I know in ministry. Some are short-term tactical planners, and some are visionary strategic planners.

I also know some leaders, mostly in ministry, who say they are reluctant to plan because they do not want to run afoul of God’s leading in their life. Their feeling is that making plans is presumptuous and might cause them to ignore God’s leading.

I think the weight of Biblical evidence falls on the side of planners.

Take, for example, the story of Joseph as a young man in Pharaoh’s court found in Genesis 41. The Lord sent a dream to Pharaoh which Joseph interpreted warning of seven years of famine that were to come. Pharaoh asked what should be done and Joseph laid out a fourteen-year plan to collect food during the seven years of plenty in order to survive the following seven years of famine.

The story of Gideon in Judges 6 is another of the many examples in which the Lord gave very specific plans to an individual leader. In this case, the Lord called on Gideon to attack the Midianites. Gideon was given a very specific plan of attack by the Lord and Gideon followed the Lord’s leading exactly.

The Bible is full of stories of men and women who were planners. The difference between those who were successful and those who failed is the successful planners followed God’s leading in their lives.

James, the half-brother of Jesus, made quite an issue of the importance of planning in chapter 4 of his letter.

James relates the story of businessmen who boast about going from city to city doing business and making a profit. Yet, says James, these businessmen do not even know what tomorrow will bring.

The issue is these businessmen have not sought the will of God, they are not relying on God, and they are not conducting their business for the glory of God. They are completely self-centered, focused on their own abilities and desires.

James says this type of planning is presumptuous because we do not even know what tomorrow will bring. God knows the future. We do not.

We are completely ignorant of God’s plans for us, and that is a good thing!

If, for example, we knew that God was going to make us wealthy and successful might we not become prideful and boast of our lot in life before we had even achieved anything meaningful?

On the other hand, it is a good thing we do not know about the difficulties and trials that lie in our path. We might be reluctant to move ahead, frozen in fear at the prospect of facing the trials of life.

We like to think we control much of our lives. We often act like we are our own God. This kind of attitude is prideful and arrogant. To presume we control the future when we cannot even control the events of the day is foolishness!

Instead, says James, we should plan with a humble heart saying, “If it is the Lord’s will we will do this or that.”

We do not have a right to tomorrow. Every day we wake up to live another day is a gift from God.

We should be planners. It is good stewardship to plan the time in our life. BUT, we should plan humbly, “If it is the Lord’s will.”

Whether you are in business or ministry, the plans you make should come as a result of seeking the will of God, they should rely on God, and they should be for the glory of God. Successful plans start with, “If it is the Lord’s will…”

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Do you usually make plans that start with “If it is the Lord’s will”? Or, do you tend to rush ahead of God making plans without His leading?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Dependence on God

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#155: The Reluctant Leader, A Mighty Man of Valor

Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known

God sometimes calls on the most unlikely people to lead His people. Never was that more true than with Gideon, the youngest son of a farmer whose family was the weakest of his tribe.

Gideon Reluctant Leader

If you want to read his story, you’ll find it in Judges 6-8.

In Gideon’s time, the people of Israel had become evil and God allowed the Midianites to oppress them. The Midianites would invade the land every harvest and steal all the crops and animals, leaving almost nothing for the Israelites to live on.

Gideon struggled to believe that God was calling on him to lead the Israelites, but eventually he came to trust God, he delivered the Israelites from the Midianites and went on to judge the Israelite nation for 40 years.

God Called Gideon

God called Gideon out of obscurity. Gideon was threshing wheat for his father when God reached out and tapped Gideon for a leadership assignment that changed his life. God told him He wanted him to lead the Israelite army.

God Commissioned Gideon

At first, Gideon didn’t believe God could possibly have meant to select him to lead an army since he was young, inexperienced, and from a family of farmers.

In answer to Gideon’s reluctance the Lord reassured him saying, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” Gideon may not have thought of himself as a mighty warrior, but the Lord did!

God Developed Gideon

God didn’t send Gideon out to take on an army right away. First, the Lord told Gideon to go tear down the Asherah poles and the altar to Baal in his father’s house. So Gideon took ten of his servants out at night and did exactly what the Lord commanded. The townspeople were furious and wanted to kill Gideon, but his father defended him and changed his name to Jerubbaal, which means “Let Baal contend” (or let Baal fight for himself).

By obeying God’s command, Gideon proved himself worthy. When Gideon was allowed to test God with the fleece, he finally came to trust God completely, knowing that God would do exactly as He promised.

God Equipped Gideon

When it was time to go to battle God wanted to make sure everyone would know that the battle was His to win. Gideon had assembled an army of 32,000 to go up against a Midianite army that numbered over 130,000 men. God told Gideon to tell everyone who didn’t want to fight to go home. That left 10,000 men. God said that was still too many and he reduced Gideon’s army to 300 men. That’s over 400 Midianites to every one of Gideon’s men.

The right 300 men plus God were all that Gideon needed to ensure victory for the Israelites.

God Led Gideon

God made sure Gideon knew victory was his, by having Gideon sneak into the camp of the Midianites at night. There Gideon overheard a Midianite tell of a dream he had and the man with him interpreted the dream saying, “This is nothing less than the sword of Gideon, son of Joash, the Israelite. God has handed the entire Midianite camp over to him” (Judges 7:14)

Imagine how Gideon felt when he heard his enemies talking about him and how God was on his side against them!

Full of confidence Gideon returned to camp divided his men into three companies and attacked. The Midianites were so confused by the attack some killed each other while a remnant fled pursued by the Israelites. God led Gideon and the Israelite army of 300 and gave them victory over an army over 400 times their size!

God called Gideon from obscurity, not because of who he was, but because of who God knew he could be. God commissioned Gideon to do a specific work. He developed Gideon and equipped him with exactly the right men to go into battle. Finally, God, just as He promised, led Gideon into battle and brought them the victory.

Through His experience with God, Gideon’s faith grew and he came to fully trust the Word of God.

In the end, Gideon became the fifth judge over the nation of Israel where he guided the Israelites for 40 years. He even appears in the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11:32 described as a man of faith who conquered nations and administered justice.

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. Have you been a reluctant leader like Gideon at some time in your life? If so, did you feel God’s call and His commissioning you to a specific work? Looking back, do you see God’s hand equipping you for the work, and leading you to complete the work He commissioned you to do?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Dependence on God

#148: What Holy Night is This?

I am the kind of singer that King David had in mind when he said, “Make a joyful noise unto the world” (Psalm 100). I cannot, as they say, “carry a note in a bucket.” However, I am a joyful singer, and I am most joyful at Christmas time when I hear hymns like O Holy Night.

O Holy Night

O Holy Night was written in 1843 as a poem by French atheist, Placide Cappeau, at the request of a local parish priest. In 1847 Adolphe Adam, a French composer, added a musical score to Cappeau’s poem. It was later translated into English with some slightly different lyrics by John Sullivan, founder of the Harvard Music Society.

O Holy Night

  1. O holy night, the stars are brightly shining,
    It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth;
    Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
    ‘Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.
    A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
    For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn;

Chorus
Fall on your knees, Oh hear the angel voices!
O night divine! O night when Christ was born.
O night, O holy night, O night divine.

  1. Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming;
    With glowing hearts by his cradle we stand:
    So, led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
    Here come the wise men from Orient land,
    The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger,
    In all our trials born to be our friend;

Chorus
He knows our need, To our weakness no stranger!
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King! your King! before him bend!

  1. Truly He taught us to love one another;
    His law is Love and His gospel is Peace;
    Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother,
    And in his name all oppression shall cease,
    Sweet hymns of joy in grateful Chorus raise we;
    Let all within us praise his Holy name!

Chorus
Christ is the Lord, then ever! ever praise we!
His pow’r and glory, evermore proclaim!
His pow’r and glory, evermore proclaim!

O Holy Night–Verse 1

The first verse of O Holy Night describes the coming of Jesus. His coming should fill us with hope and joy. God loved us so much that he sent his Son, Jesus, that whomever might believe in him might not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16).

The price of our redemption from sin was not gold or silver, but the precious blood of the spotless lamb, Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19). The fact the Father was willing to sacrifice His one and only Son on our behalf indicates how much He loves us.

O Holy Night—Verse 2

The second verse of O Holy Night reminds us the King of kings and Lord of Lords was born as a human infant and placed in a manger. The wise men followed a star and found the baby Jesus laying in a manger and they worshipped Him there.

The wise men worshipped at His feet in the manger. We worship Him at the foot of the Cross. Jesus bore all our sins so we might we might be adopted into God’s family and cry out, “Abba, Father” (Galatians 4:6).

O Holy Night—Verse 3

The third verse of O Holy Night calls us to love one another, to set aside differences that separate us and become one in Christ. His law is love.  Teaching His disciples, Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34).

His Gospel is peace, praise His Holy name. Teaching the Philippians, Paul said, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

As we celebrate this Christmas season, let us remember the reason for the season is a tiny baby who lay in a manger, who lived a sinless life to redeem us from our sins. At the foot of the cross we meet our Savior.

My Christmas prayer for you is that the love of God and His peace will be with you always.

In His Service,

RonRKelleher clear 200 x 123

Join the Conversation

Do you have any favorite Christmas hymns that hold special meaning to you? What are they?

 

Category: Personal Development |Dependence on God

#135: What do you do when God tells you to do something ridiculous?

What do you do when God tells you to do something that seems ridiculous? I mean something that flies in the face of common sense?

Behold I am the Lord

That’s exactly what happened to Jeremiah (the prophet, not the bulldog) in Jeremiah 32-33.

Picture this. The country to the north of you has been conquered by an invading army. This same invader is coming after you next. In fact, they have been marching from town to town mowing down your army as they went. Now they are at the city walls laying siege to your city.

In the meantime, God tells you your cousin is going to pay you a visit and ask you to buy a piece of the family’s land, and God wants you to buy it! Seriously?! Who in their right mind is going to buy a piece of land that has already been taken over by an invading army?

Oh, and by the way, you’re sitting in a prison cell because your king is mad at you!

This is exactly what happened to Jeremiah. Sure enough, Jeremiah’s cousin shows up and wants to sell a piece of the family farm. So what does Jeremiah do? He measures out 17 shekels of silver and pays his cousin (that was about 1-1/2 year’s wages for a laborer). They make out two copies of a bill of sale, have them witnessed, and seal them up in a clay pot for safe keeping.

What did Jeremiah do?

Let’s look at Jeremiah’s response to God telling him to buy this piece of land and see what we can learn from Jeremiah’s example.

He followed God’s direction

It made absolutely no sense for Jeremiah to buy a field from his cousin when it was under the control of an invading army, except for the fact that God told him to! The fact that God told him to was enough for Jeremiah. Whether it made sense to him from a human perspective or not didn’t matter. His God told him to do something and in faith he did it.

Insight for us. Sometimes God will ask us to do something we just don’t understand. It may even seem stupid to us from a human perspective, but we need to obey God in faith!

He brought his questions to God

Once he had consummated the transaction Jeremiah had some doubts and questions for God. He went to God in prayer, praising God for His greatness, remembering all that God had done for His people, and then asking God about the need to purchase this piece of land.

Insight for us. There is never a time when our Father does not want to hear from us. Even if we are angry, hurt, or confused we can bring always lay the burdens of our heart at His feet. Jeremiah boosted his own confidence by recognizing that God was all powerful and that God had always been there for the people in the past. We can boost our own confidence and ease our fears the very same way!

He listened for God’s response

Sometimes we get in a hurry, especially when we’re in a difficult situation. We say a quick prayer and go on with our day. But Jeremiah was used to waiting and hearing from the Lord. This situation was no different. God responded to Jeremiah confirming his promise that in time He would restore the people to the land when it again would be bought and sold.

Insight for us. If Jeremiah had been in a hurry and not stayed to listen for God’s response he would have missed God’s comforting promises. Let’s take the time to wait and listen for God’s response. He has promised to give us comfort and wisdom.

Application

The world scoffs at us for our faith in God, but He has promised to reward us for our faithfulness. Rather than living for the pleasures and approval of man let us keep our hearts and minds trained to God, seeking His pleasure and approval. After all, He is the Lord. The God of all flesh. And nothing is too hard for Him!

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. Have you been called on by God to do something that seemed ridiculous at the time? What happened?

 

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Category: Personal Development |Dependence on God

#131: How Space Mountain is Like Following Jesus

I always liked Disneyland, but after living in Southern California for many years and taking numerous trips to the Happiest Place on Earth with family and friends our visits had slowed.

Space Mountain, Jesus, Following

I hadn’t been to Disneyland in several years that is until my daughter, Rebekah, invited dad along on a father-daughter day at Disneyland in the summer of 2008.

Rebekah, who was a student in college at the time had an annual pass and had become the families’ de-facto expert on all things Disney.

Rebekah planned the entire day; the time we needed to arrive, which fast passes to grab first, and what rides to do in what order.

At some point during the day, she took me to Space Mountain. I had never been on Space Mountain, but it looked cool as we entered the bowels of the mountain.

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#101: People around the World are Struggling and Need God

Christianity Today ran an interesting article that summarized YouVersion’s top 10 most popular Bible verses of 2014 based on 164 million users of the app. Because the app is translated into 1,000 languages, 70% of the world’s population can read the bible in their heart language. And because the base of users is huge it tells a story of what is on people’s minds.

Bible, YouVerse

Summarizing the World’s Bible Readers

We don’t know how many of the people around the world reading the YouVersion app are believers, but from the top 10 verses I’ve drawn five conclusions:

  • People want to know that they can trust God.
  • People want to know how God expects them to live out their lives.
  • People want to know how to deal with difficult situations.
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  • People are generally fearful about their current and future situations and are looking to Scripture for comfort and guidance.

The Top 10 with My Affirmations

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