Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Finish the race well

Gleaning from the account of King Amaziah: 
2 Chronicles 25:2 - "He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, but not wholeheartedly."

When Amaziah became king, he continued in his father's pattern. He executed those who had assassinated his father. He kept alive an appearance of attentiveness to God, but his heart wasn't in it. His early successes, which could have inspired humility, instead gave rise to arrogance. He received but rejected God's warnings. He challenged a reluctant Israel to a military confrontation. God ensured a humiliating defeat for Amaziah and Judah. The remainder of Amaziah's reign was a road to destruction. Amaziah's own people plotted and killed their king.

Despite an impressive start, King Amaziah’s end was not so wonderful. In arrogance, he challenged Israel to battle, lost miserably, and saw the temple depleted of its riches. Eventually he was forced from Jerusalem and killed by conspirators. The king had a godly start that ended in misery and defeat.

Noting this king's life, we should be compelled to examine our own lives. Are we offering our service to God with imperfect hearts? The downfall of Amaziah should encourage all of us to examine our service constantly for signs of an “imperfect heart.” Remember that Amaziah did some right things and yet his end was destruction.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Itching ears syndrome

2 Timothy 4:3-4 says "For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths."

Paul has spent a long time reminding Timothy of the value, the necessity and the power of the Word.  In 2 Timothy Chapter 4, Paul is about to close this letter and gives Timothy one more set of reminders regarding the Word. Timothy was seriously told to preach the Word, just as the church today is being told that, because as time passes, more and more people who are in church don't want to hear the whole counsel of God. They take offense when critical biblical truth are being shared from the pulpit. More than ever before, they want to be entertained that leads to a spectator mentality in the church. I am not discounting the fact of deploying creativity in preaching. They are good but not at the expense of not preaching the whole counsel of God.

Many want church to be more like the Grammy Award show, in order to keep their interest. They want to hear messages that make them feel good, that tell them they're okay right where they're at. Lots of people don't want to be challenged to grow or convicted in their hearts. Thus, many will no longer stand for Biblical teaching. This has led to the corruption of the church and the desecration of the true gospel message. So many "Christians" flock to churches and run after the preachers, evangelists and teachers who will preach to them what they want to hear —riches, power, success, and the list goes on. In essence, they have turned away from the absolute truth and have become comfortable with relative truth.

It's interesting that these words of Paul were written thousands of years ago, yet seem applicable today. As a society, we are more interested in entertainment than truth. Apparently, Timothy's day wasn't much different. We are living in a day and time where we see the meaning of these verses more clearly than ever before. Mankind is searching for answers—spiritual answers. But many are eager for the blessings that come with a life dedicated to the Lord but not the self-discipline, not the self-denial, not the self-abasement, not the humility, not the holy or righteous lifestyle. Many want all the benefits without a life submitted to the Lord.

Where do we stand? Do we submit to the preaching of the Word of God regardless how uneasy we feel when confronted with truth? Or, do we search for a more palatable sermon?