Archive for December, 2010

Resting at the River's Edge Logo 2010-2011

“When satan brought his ‘A’ game, what did Jesus do? He quoted Scripture.”
Pastor Dan Caudill

When my pastor made this statement in his sermon last week, he had my attention. He was  preaching from one of my favorite passages:

14But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
– 2 Timothy 3:14-17

Usually I jump right into verse 16, but there are some interesting things to note in verses 14 and 15:

  • Paul is writing to Timothy – a leader in the church. Continuing in God’s Word is important, no matter how long we’ve been a Christian or how spiritually mature we may be.
  • Studying Scripture makes us “wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” – I take this to mean that as we continue in God’s Word, we learn more and more about “such a great salvation” (Hebrews 2:3).

Then we get to the good part. All Scripture is “God-breathed.” How cool is that? When we read God’s Word, we know that what we’re reading has been infused with God’s Spirit – His wisdom, love and character. No wonder it so often speaks to our hearts and our needs.

But if we don’t read it…

  • We miss His special message to us
  • We don’t learn more and more about our great salvation
  • We can’t expect to be prepared for the attacks satan will send our way

If Jesus’ defense against satan’s “A” game was Scripture (Matthew 4:1-10), can there be a better one? The problem is, if we’re not regularly reading (and memorizing) Scripture, there’s no way we can bring our “A” game when satan comes with his. And while topical studies are good, there is no substitute for reading Scripture as it was written – as complete books or letters. Reading an entire book or letter helps us learn the whole thought the writer was trying to communicate, not just a portion that relates to the topic we’re interested in. (Sometimes what we most need to hear are the topics we’re not interested in studying.)

The exciting thing is that anyone can read the entire New Testament through in a year by only reading one chapter a day five days each week. The longest chapter is eighty verses – most are less than half that. Fifteen minutes each day will put you in a position to hear God’s special messages for you throughout the year, learn more about our great salvation and be better prepared for satan’s attacks. I can’t think of a better deal!

Our Resting at the River’s Edge goes a bit further. We’re in the second year of a reading plan that has us reading through the Old Testament in two years and the New Testament each year. We’ll begin 2011 by re-reading three foundational books of the Old Testament – Genesis, Exodus and Deuteronomy. After that, our Old Testament reading will be new territory – we’ll cover the books we didn’t read last year. Our New Testament reading will begin in the gospel of Matthew. What follows will unfold in months to come.

So let me encourage you, readers, to read along with us. If you can’t find time to do both the Old Testament and New Testament, simply follow along in the New Testament. My blogs often come from my daily reading. As God whispers in my ear, I often share it with you. So as you read along with us many of my blogs will reinforce what you’ve been reading. Of course the best benefit, is that as you read, you’ll experience the fantastic benefit of hearing from God.

The recommended reading schedule for January is below.

To download a PDF of January’s recommended reading plan, click here.

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First, a confession! I stole the headline from a blog about giving yourself permission to do those things you tell yourself you’re going to do “someday.” I immediately thought of the new Living Life on Purpose groups I’m organizing. The groups aren’t about giving ourselves permission, but rather about helping ourselves lead the Godly lives He wants us to live.

Accountability groups and partners were a big thing in the 80’s and 90’s. A Purpose group is more of an encouragement and idea group than an accountability group. Yes, we’ll each set our goals, but the meetings won’t be so much about confessing sins as sharing our victories and failures in an environment of encouragement and support, then asking everyone for their ideas about how to better meet your goals. Of course we’ll pray for one another. It will be a perfect environment for us to follow Paul’s advice to the Thessalonians:

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up
1 Thessalonians 5:11a

Purpose groups may meet in person, or they may meet “virtually” – over the phone and/or via our computers. If you’ve never participated in a virtual group before, don’t let that keep you from joining us. I’m a member of a virtual group for business and it works wonderfully.

My prayer for the Purpose groups is that they help group members move from “someday” to “action” in the area of their life that is more important than all other areas – their relationship with God. If you’re considering joining us, comment on the blog, post a message on facebook, or e-mail me.

Let’s make 2011 the year we grow closer to God!

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While getting dressed for work this morning, I heard a news report about Christians travelling to Bethlehem to celebrate Christmas. God used that news story to interrupted me and change my attitude. Today, the day we celebrate the birth of our Savior, I want to make Him the focus of every minute of my day.

I have to work all day. We are quite busy and I’m catching up on looming deadlines. Still, I want Him to be at the center of it.

I’ve not been looking forward to this evening. Just about the time I get home from work my husband leaves. He’ll leave for work about 6pm tonight and he’ll get home about 8am Christmas morning. I’ve thought of several things I could do on Christmas Eve, and haven’t settled on any of them. My natural inclination is to stay home alone – following the principle of inertia. And that holds a bit of sadness for me. On the other hand, going out holds a bit of stress for me. Which will I choose? I don’t know yet. But God whispered to me this morning that it doesn’t matter – what matters is that I keep my focus on Him.

Interestingly, when I started writing this blog, I had tremendous peace in my heart. But what preceded the first paragraph you’ve read here were three paragraphs I deleted. They explained about some of the challenges in my life over the past month. I deleted them because by the time I typed “While getting dressed for work this morning…” my peace was gone and depression was creeping in. In the act of writing about how God put it in my heart to keep my focus on Him today (and everyday), I shifted my focus to the cares of this world. Ugh! Our enemy is so deceiving sometimes!

God has impressed on me over and over again this holiday season the need for me to allow Him to shine through me as I spend time with family and friends. (I blogged about it here.) I think we (God and me) are working up to that being the theme of 2011. Christ in me, my hope of glory. Christ in my mind while I accomplish my work. Christ in my heart when I am prone to depression. Christ on my lips when I am tempted to answer wrongly. Christ my focus as I take each step of the journey He has for me.

Today, the day we celebrate the birth of Christ, I am reminded that He made it possible for me to exchange my less-than-what-I-want-it-to-be life for a life in Him that is beyond my expectations in joy and purpose. Today, the day we celebrate the birth of Christ, I want Him to be my focus even while my mind, heart and hands are required to be doing other things.

Merry Christmas, readers! May Christ be in your heart and minds today, and may He bless the works of your hands mightily!

Here’s a “dessert” to today’s blog…

Today’s Resting at the River’s Edge was such a blessing to me. The birth of Christ is the backstory. Revelation provides the story’s climax:

6Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
“Hallelujah!
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.


7 Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.


8 Fine linen, bright and clean,
was given her to wear.”
(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)


9Then the angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”

10At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

11I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. 12His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:

KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
Revelation 19:6-16

Hallelujah!

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A number of years ago “worship wars” were causing great discord and even church splits. Would churches continue to primarily use hymns in worship? Would they move to more contemporary worship music? Would it be a combination of the two? Disagreements over how to lead the congregation in corporate worship became knock-down, drag-out battles.

It seems to me that the issue isn’t nearly as divisive as it used to be, but perhaps it’s just that I’m in a place where I love the music we worship to, miss what we don’t include, but am happy to find few people arguing about it. I wish I had found this quote during the height of the wars. C.S. Lewis wrote the following about his worship experience in his (Anglican) church:

I disliked very much their hymns, which I considered to be fifth-rate poems set to sixth-rate music. But as I went on I saw the great merit of it….I realized that the hymns (which were just sixth-rate music) were, nevertheless, being sung with devotion and benefit by an old saint in elastic-side boots in the opposite pew, and then you realize that you aren’t fit to clean those boots. It gets you out of your solitary conceit.
(from his book of essays God in the Dock)

Now that’s a Godly perspective about worship in a corporate setting! Lord forgive my conceit and bless the saints.

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I was leaving for a meeting this morning – a meeting whose outcome was anything but certain.

We had done a really good job on many projects for a client, but for reasons apart from our performance my client’s boss’s boss was considering giving future projects to another vendor. This client represents a significant portion of our business, so to lose future effort would not be a good thing for our company. So for the last few days I’ve been pulling together information, preparing charts and printing e-mails that documented how much the client liked working with us and what a great job we’ve been doing for them. The effort was encouraging. As I prepared to leave for the meeting, I knew our company had served the client well, but I was insecure about the outcome. I so wanted to go into the meeting positively, but sometimes it was a bit difficult not to be defensive.

So as I walked out the door, Phil knew I needed to re-focus. He stopped me and reminded me that my confidence wasn’t in the information and charts and testimonials I had in my briefcase. My response was to immediately quote one of my favorite verses:

Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.

Psalm 20:7

He looked at me again – “Sandy, those charts are your chariots, and those testimonials are your horses.” Hearing him interpret the verse so bluntly made it more real. The charts I had prepared were just charts. They might impress or they might frustrate or hold a totally different message for my client’s boss’s boss. The testimonials were what my clients think of my work, but what do I know about what their bosses think of their opinions? Every level of management has a different responsibility, different goals and therefore, a different perspective. The same information can be viewed as good by one level of management and not-so-good by the next.

With that uncertainty, I’m glad that I can trust God – because there is certainty with Him. Not certainty that I’ll get the future effort with this client, but certainty that God will provide and that He uses all situations to grow me into the person He wants me to be.

Where is your trust today? My challenge today was business related. Perhaps yours relates to your health or the safety (or salvation) of your children or parents. Perhaps it is something I can’t even imagine. The specifics aren’t what’s important – what’s important is where you place your confidence. Our circumstances can cause us to scramble a bit to convince others (and ourselves) that we’re up to the challenges they present. Preparing well is important, and the preparation for my meeting helped it to go more-or-less smoothly. But God is the One who gives us favor with others, brings healing, protects, saves and holds all things in His hands – He is the One (and only One) in whom our confidence is secure.

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12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:12-14 (NIV)

I’d like to direct your thoughts to beyond the big event in front of you – beyond Christmas. I know. The season has a way of wrapping itself around us and demanding our constant attention. Preparing, decorating, gathering, shopping, giving, receiving, baking, greeting, cleaning, and then doing it all over again. Who can push their vision to beyond all that without being purposeful about it? I know I can’t.

But I also know that when this season is over there is a new year in which to pursue the wonderful things of God. And I want to begin that new year with purpose, not simply exhausted, limp and just hoping for some rest. So I am beginning to lift my eyes above the fray of this wonderful season to say “Lord, what’s next? 2010 is coming to a close, how can I serve you in 2011?”

I am praying about starting several “Living Life on Purpose” groups (or “Purpose group” for short) in 2011. I participate in a couple of groups known in the business world as “mastermind” groups. They are small groups of people who meet monthly to encourage and help each member achieve greater success in their business life. I want to carry that concept into the rest of my life because what we’ve experienced is that the mastermind group meetings regularly bring our goals into focus and helps us make progress toward them. What’s best is that this happens in an environment of encouragement and support, not hold-your-feet-to-the-fire accountability. I’d like to see that in my spiritual life as well.

Our life with Christ is a tremendously exciting, sometimes arduous, journey. It is truly the journey of a lifetime. The enemy’s desire is to sabatoge us along the way and he does that by taking our focus off the goal. Quite frankly, I think we make it easy for him! My husband said it well in a small group many years ago: “We are too easily distracted by bright, shiny objects.” For some the bright, shiny object is the newest thing in town – the new organization to belong to, new church to atttend, new store to explore, new computer (or computer game) to obsess over, new activity to participate in, new habit to develop, new diet to embrace, new television series to become a fan of, new project to throw yourself into, yada, yada, yada.

I don’t want to make it easy for satan. I want to make his job as hard as possible. In fact, I want to make his job impossible. With Christ in me and my focus continually on Him, how can satan win? He can’t. The secret is to keep that focus on Christ and what He wants for my life. Daily Bible reading and prayer help us keep that focus daily; regular church attendance helps keep that focus weekly; a monthly Purpose group will help me keep that focus monthly on those goals that are more longterm.

Here’s the plan: Each month the group gets together for for an hour or hour and a half. During that time, each member will share his or her successes and blessings, then ask for ideas about how to improve in areas that aren’t moving forward. Other group members will offer encouragement and ideas. Each group member has about ten minutes in which everyone’s attention is focused on helping them meet their goals in the coming month. Of course, we’ll close praying for one another.

Let me give you an example. Let’s say one of my goals this year is to read my Bible more consistently. Perhaps right now I only read 3-4 days/week. At a typical meeting, I would share what blessings I’ve experienced over the previous month and what positive things I’ve experienced toward my goal. Perhaps I am enjoying my reading more – God is causing Scripture to jump off the page into my heart. Or perhaps I’ll share a specific Scripture that touched me. Then maybe I’ll share that the desire to be more consistent is growing in my heart, but I haven’t quite been able to increase my Scripture reading. Wanting to meet the goal is a step in the right direction because previously it was just something I felt like I should do, now it’s something I want to do. That’s progress! But I need help moving forward. What suggestions do other group members have that might help me? I would then have the benefit of hearing the experience and ideas of three or four other people. My experience is that the ideas that flow in such a group will encourage and motivate me while providing practical suggestions that will help me move toward my goal.

Perhaps you’re reading this and beginning to wonder how you can participate. (I hope you are!) You don’t live anywhere near Norwalk, OH, where I write this blog from. Not to worry! One of the business mastermind groups I participate in is a virtual group. Our meeting is done monthly via phone and computer. I’ll be honest – I don’t know all the ins and outs of the technology yet, but if enough of you are interested in joining a Purpose group with me, I’ll learn it.

So what do you think? Would you like to commit to one and a half hours each month to live life on purpose in 2011? There may be a minimal cost to participate – such as the cost of the phone call or a small cost for a virtual meeting site. Those details will come, but I promise they will not be significant. And of course, if they prove to be our undoing, we’ll find workarounds so that they are not our undoing.

If you’d like to participate, please comment on the blog or send me an e-mail. Give me your name, the city, state and time zone in which you live, your e-mail address and your phone number. I will contact you with more details.

In the meantime, go back to enjoying the Christmas season!

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For this is the secret: Christ lives in you, and this is your assurance that you will share in his glory.
Colossians 1:27b (NLT)

25I have become [the church’s] servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness—26the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. 27To [the saints] God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Colossians 1:25-227 (NIV)

Over the past two months there has been a constant theme in my spirit. I’ve tried to write about it again and again, but have yet been unsuccessful. Perhaps today will be different, and if it is, perhaps it is a message that needed to be put off until closer to Christmas.

The message, friends, is this: If you know Christ, “Christ lives in you” and that inner life, that life within, is your “hope of glory.” He who lives in you is with you all the time. Let me reiterate that. He who lives in you is with you ALL the time.

The implications of that statement are stretching me. Christ is in me and because of that, He goes with me…to every meeting, every event, every gathering. At this time of year, that means (dare I say it)…He is there when I attend those family events that sometimes bring out the worst in me. I mean absolutely no disrespect to my family. My family is a blessing to me. They are the people God has put in my life to love me and encourage me and…help me conform to the image of Christ.

At Christmas (and Thanksgiving and Easter and birthdays and other family-centered events), it’s very easy to fall into family roles. Those family roles do not always bring out the best in us. Well, in me anyway. I’m guessing I’m not unique in that. But God….But God…(I love the buts of God)But God can make me different. In fact, He has made me different. In Christ, I am different from that child and young adult that I am so tempted to revert to at family gatherings. I have become a new creation and that creation carries the living God and the hope of eternity with her everywhere she goes.

The message, friends, is this: If you know Christ, “Christ lives in you” and that inner life, that life within, is your “hope of glory”…for you and those around you. Because when you attend those family gatherings (and gatherings of old friends as well), He goes with you. Christ is in the house because you have attended the gathering. He wants to impact each person in the building. And he probably wants to use you to do it!

How? Here are some ideas that challenge me.

  • By reflecting Him in you instead of reverting back to that child and/or young adult.
  • By showing unexpected kindness.
  • By holding your tongue when you want to argue the same old arguments.
  • By speaking gently instead of criticizing or speaking harshly.
  • By remembering the good things instead of bringing up old hurts and disappointments.
  • By embracing instead of walking away.
  • By smiling instead of scowling.
  • By taking an interest in the lives of others instead of remaining separate.
  • By living as the new creation you have become instead of being fearful of what they will think of you.
  • By loving.

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:4-13 (NIV)

Friends, Christ lives in you and He wants to impact those around you. Let His love shine through at your family gatherings this month.

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Don’t you realize how kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Or don’t you care? Can’t you see how kind he has been in giving you time to turn from your sin?
Romans 2:4 (NLT)

Perhaps there are times when you can’t think of anything to be thankful for. Life has come crashing down upon you and your “thank you” muscle is at least temporarily silenced. I was reading Dr. David Jeremiah’s book Captivated by Grace and he pointed out how thankful we ought to be for God’s kindness, patience and tolerance. Without it, we’d be toast! Even when life crashes in, in the midst of the sad, discouraging or hurtful circumstances, we can be thankful that our God is a kind, patient and tolerant God.

Jeremiah reminds his reader that God knows our every intention (see 1 Chronicles 28:9). Not only our actions, but our intention. He knows when we’ve done that good deed not to show Christ to the world, but for some personal prestige or gain. He knows when our thoughts are the polar opposite of our actions. As Jeremiah puts it:

“The Spirit of God dwells among the file cabinets of your mind…Truly understanding the implications of that, we would be taken by uncontrollable fear if His character were not kind, patient, and forbearing. Who else could we trust with the contents of those file cabinets? Who else but someone with absolutely perfect, infinitely unconditional love?”
from Captivated by Grace by Dr. David Jeremiah, p. 76

I’m thankful that God is kind. Kindness can sometimes be a rare commodity in this world.

I’m thankful that God is tolerant. The word used means “self-restraint.” God restrains Himself from punishing me as my actions and thoughts deserve.

I’m thankful that God is patient. In some translations, it reads “longsuffering.” Having looked up the word “tolerant,” I thought I’d also look up “patient” as well. I didn’t expect to find anything interesting, but you never know. I was wrong! I found it quite interesting. Strong’s Greek dictionary defines the word translated as “patient” or “longsuffering” as “longanimity.” OK, I didn’t know what that word meant, either. Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary to the rescue again – longanimity means “a disposition to bear injuries patiently.” God is not only patient, He is pre-disposed to bear injuries patiently. That’s quite different from waiting patiently for the light to turn green. He bears injuries patiently. (Hmmm. Makes me consider how I’m doing in that department lately!)

Friends, there is always reason to be thankful, and I am convinced that thankfulness is a key to experiencing the joy that God’s Word promises.

Don’t allow the busyness of the Christmas season to overwhelm you. Each day, be thankful that God is kind, tolerant and patient toward you and your loved ones.

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By guest blogger Phil Hovatter

The fifteenth chapter of the book of Second Kings tells the brief and odd story of the reign of King Azariah of Judah. This man (whose name means “God has helped”) was king of Judah. That’s a pretty significant job. He reigned for 52 years. That’s a very significant amount of time. And yet the book of Kings summarizes his entire life in just seven short verses.

So what does Second Kings tell us about King Azariah?

  • He was the son of king Amaziah, one of the “good” kings of Judah
  • His mother Jecoliah was from Jerusalem. (We can presume from this that Azariah’s dad had married a nice Jewish girl instead of hooking up with a pagan princess for political reasons.)
  • He became king when he was just 16 years old
  • He reigned for a long time – 52 years
  • He “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord,” which is to say that he promoted observance to the Mosaic Law and proper worship of Yahweh
  • He didn’t remove the “high places” in Judah, where the people offered incense to pagan gods
  • And here’s the kicker: “The Lord afflicted the king with leprosy until the day he died, and he lived in a separate house.”
    2 Kings 15:5 (NIV)

Disney gave us the Lion King. God gave Judah the Leper King.

This is one of those passages that makes me scratch my head and wonder what the heck is going on here. Azariah was a good king, the son of another good king. Good kings were in short supply in those days (much as they are in ours). God allowed him to stay in power for over half a century. And yet Scripture is very definite about giving credit to the Lord for afflicting Azariah with leprosy.

Why would God do such a thing? What (if anything) can we learn from this?

First and foremost, bad things happen to good people.
Entire books have been written on this subject, some of them seeking to tap into the ways and wisdom of God, others being total nonsense. But the fact remains that in this fallen world, even “good” people will have to endure some degree of difficulty and trying circumstances.

Everything that the Psalms declare about the Lord being our rock, our fortress, our high tower, our shield, our defender, and our hedge of protection is true. But read the Psalms carefully. All those titles are ascribed to God by people who were facing the worst personal circumstances. It’s from within those times and places of difficulty that we see that the Lord is all of these things for us, and more.

Remember that “Azariah” means “God has helped.” That was the name his Mama gave him. He could have asked to be called by something else that denied that sentiment if he didn’t believe it. You might remember in the book of Ruth that Naomi (“pleasant”) asked people to call her Mara (“bitter”) when the chips were down for her. Her circumstances weren’t pleasant at all and she didn’t want a name that denied her reality. Azariah could have done the same thing, but he didn’t. And in fact, Azariah is known by another name in Scripture. Later on in the same chapter of Second Kings, the writer refers to him as King Uzziah. This name is also used of him by the prophet Isaiah in chapter 6 of his book, where he says that he had his vision of God on His throne in the year that King Uzziah died. “Uzziah” means “my power is Yahweh.”

The Leper King of Judah didn’t wallow in self-pity or accuse God of being unloving or unfair to him. He let God be God and he went on about the business of being king despite his leprosy.

Another lesson we might learn from this passage is that bad circumstances don’t necessarily disqualify us from significant service to God.
The Lord intentionally afflicted King Azariah with leprosy, but He didn’t remove him from the throne. If you’ve read the gospels you have some idea of what the lifestyle of a leper was and what their standing was in the community. “Unclean! Unclean!” The Leper King had to live in another house, but he still fulfilled the duties and responsibilities of ruler of the nation. His son Jotham served as his go-between so that the people could avoid contact with their diseased king.

A prevalent opinion in Old Testament times that we see even in some passages of the New Testament is that disease and affliction is assumed to be a judgment by God on the sin in a person’s life. “Who sinned? This man or his parents, that he should be born blind?” The entire book of Job was given by God to dispel this false notion that calamity only comes as a judgment on sin. Job was the most godly and righteous man of his time, and yet God allowed horrible catastrophes to afflict him.

Afflictions will test your faith, but they don’t mean that you have been disqualified for service.

Lastly, afflictions don’t have to diminish your fruitfulness. In fact, they might enhance them.
While Second Kings gives a very brief sketch of the life of King Azariah, the book of Second Chronicles goes into considerably more detail. The Leper King, forced to live in seclusion from his people, had an illustrious career as king:

He rebuilt the defenses of Jerusalem, modernized the army, and retook Gath. He pushed the borders of Judah to the southern extent of David’s empire, and fortified them. He rebuilt Ezion-geber, the Red Sea port, and got the mines of the Arabah working again, These accomplishments gave him copper products to exchange with lands to the southeast and with Tyre, and trade all through the region flourished. Agricultural lands were developed, and as a result, Judah experienced prosperity unparalleled since Solomon’s day.
New Commentary on the Whole Bible: Old Testament

This is just speculation on my part, but perhaps his seclusion allowed him to focus more on governing the nation and less on the distractions that come from being king. I heard a story recently on Moody Radio about a man who, as a child, was afflicted with a dangerous brain tumor. The tumor was surgically removed, but it destroyed his sense of smell. When he grew up, he became a missionary to a third world country, ministering to people who lived in a garbage dump. The smell was so horrible that no one else ever went there to work with the people who lived there. His affliction uniquely qualified him to be fruitful in ministry to these poorest of the poor.

And let’s not forget Joni Eareckson Tada, a promising high school athlete who severed her spinal cord in a diving accident and became a quadriplegic. God has used her and her affliction to minister to handicapped people around the world. Would she ever have taken this path without first becoming a quadriplegic herself?

So what about you? What sort of adversity or calamity are you facing in your life? Could it be that God is allowing it so that He can work something in you or through you that wouldn’t likely happen if it weren’t for the difficult situation you find yourself in now? We’re called to be witnesses for the gospel and ambassadors for Christ wherever He puts us. How can God use your lousy circumstances to bring about something of eternal value and beauty?

King Azariah could say unequivocally that “God has helped” and “my power is Yahweh,” despite his own personal affliction. He remained faithful and fruitful despite suffering from a catastrophic disease. The Leper King of Judah is one dude that I really look forward to meeting.

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