KEY VERSE: “And king Rehoboam made in their stead brasen shields, and committed them unto the hands of the chief of the guard, which kept the door of the king’s house” (1 Kings 14:27).
Few things give more sense of fulfillment and pride than to watch your children improve on your attainment in life. Indeed, it is the prayer of every well-meaning parent that their children should conquer more grounds than they did. On the other hand, when children fail to measure up or even squander their parents’ fortunes, it brings disappointment and shame to parents and other concerned people. Such wasted heritage often attracts negative public comment.
One of the most pathetic cases of wasted heritage recorded in the Bible is that of Rehoboam, the son and successor of King Solomon. He had the best opportunities in life, as the grandson of the godly King David and son of Solomon (the wisest and richest man). His formative years coincided with the period when Solomon maintained a robust relationship with God. He had an opportunity of excellent education. Sadly, his seventeen years reign as king of Judah recorded nothing but unimaginable decline. Judah descended into gross idolatry and moral decay as vile as sodomy. Her sins estranged her from God and rendered her vulnerable.
Rehoboam yielded easily when Shishak, king of Egypt, attacked Jerusalem. Shishak carted away the treasures of the temple and of the king’s house, including the shields of gold that Solomon made. To replace the looted golden shields, Rehoboam made shields of brass – pitiable counterfeit! This was a manifest symbol of departed glory.
Many Christians, churches and whole denominations have surrendered the golden shields of the “faith of our fathers” and have shamefully made for themselves shields of brass. It often starts by gradual compromise that morphs into outright backsliding. Did you have the privilege of rich godly heritage? What have you made of it? We can learn from Rehoboam’s case and avoid descending from gold to brass.
BIBLE IN ONE YEAR: TITUS 1 – 3
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: We lose all if we fail to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”
And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, called by God as High Priest “according to the order of Melchizedek,”
When Jesus died and rose again, He became our High Priest. But notice that Jesus’ priesthood is “according to the order of Melchizedek”. Why the Melchizedek priesthood?
The Melchizedek priesthood gives to man (whereas the Aaronic priesthood takes from man). We see this when Melchizedek gave bread and wine to refresh a tired Abraham after his battle with the enemy kings. (Genesis 14:14–20) So if Jesus’ priesthood is according to the Melchizedek order, then it is one in which we can come boldly into His presence to receive from Him! (Hebrews 4:16)
Moreover, the first word from Melchizedek’s mouth was “Blessed”—“Blessed be Abram…” (Genesis 14:19) The Melchizedek order is just that—blessings. In other words, Jesus’ priesthood is one which blesses and never curses us!
So are we conscious of Jesus our High Priest giving to us every day? Are we alert to all His blessings coming from heaven toward us on earth?
Now, it is easy for us to believe God for His blessings in creation. For example, we have no difficulty believing that the sun will rise every morning. But while we have no problems believing the work of creation, we have problems believing the work of redemption. We sometimes find it hard to believe God for healing, provision, favor, protection or restoration—blessings that Jesus died to give us. We don’t really believe that every day, the Lord will take care of us, keep our bodies healthy and provide for all our needs.
Yet, creation is fallen. It can be a blessing as well as a curse. Sometimes, a storm arises, and powerful winds and rains destroy thousands of homes and lives. Sometimes, dark clouds hide the sun and make the whole day gloomy.
My friend, we can’t put our trust in creation, but we can certainly put our trust in redemption. And unlike creation, the blessings of redemption are all good! The work of Jesus is not subject to the weather or anything else. The work of redemption is as sure as Jesus Himself. He died and rose again to be our High Priest who daily showers us with blessings!
Thought For The Day
Jesus’ priesthood, which is according to the order of Melchizedek, is one which blesses and never curses us!
“Who is my neighbor?” a lawyer asked Jesus (Luke 10:29).
The lawyer had made the mistake of trying to catch the law’s author contradicting the law by asking how he should inherit eternal life. The author turned the tables by asking the lawyer what he thought the law said.
The lawyer then summarized the law in these two commands: We must love God with all we are (Deuteronomy 6:5) and love our neighbor as ourselves (Leviticus 19:18). The author agreed and said, “Do this, and you will live” (Luke 10:28).
But the author’s agreement pricked the lawyer’s conscience. So the lawyer sought to “justify himself” by asking, “Who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29). The author answered with the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30–37).
The Neighbor We Wouldn’t Choose
One observation from this application-rich parable is this: The neighbor we’re called to love is often not one we choose but one God chooses for us. In fact, this neighbor is often not one we would have chosen had not God done the choosing.
The Jew and the Samaritan wouldn’t have chosen the other as his neighbor. What made them neighbors was one man’s unchosen calamity and another man’s chosen compassion, but only in response to an unchosen, inconvenient, time-consuming, work-delaying, expensive need of another.
The shock of the parable is that God expects us to love needy strangers, even foreigners, as neighbors. But if this is true, how much more does he want us to love our actual, immediate neighbors, the ones we have to put up with regularly? Sometimes it is these neighbors we find most difficult to love. As G.K. Chesterton said,
We make our friends; we make our enemies; but God makes our next-door neighbor. . . . [T]he old scriptural language showed so sharp a wisdom when [it] spoke, not of one’s duty towards humanity, but one’s duty towards one’s neighbor. The duty towards humanity may often take the form of some choice which is personal or even pleasurable. . . . But we have to love our neighbor because he is there — a much more alarming reason for a much more serious operation. He is the sample of humanity which is actually given us. (Heretics, chapter 14)
The idea of loving our neighbor is beautiful to think about so long as it remains an idealized, abstract concept. But the concrete reality of loving our neighbor, that all-too-real, exasperating person that we would not have chosen and might prefer to escape, strips the beauty away — or so we’re tempted to think. In truth, the beauty of idealized love is imaginary and the beauty of real love is revealed in the self-dying, unchosen call to love the sinner who “is actually given us.”
The Family We Didn’t Choose
Our very first neighbors are in our family. We don’t choose them; they are given to us. We are thrown together with them, warts and all, and called to love them, often with the kind of neighbor-love Jesus had in mind. Chesterton again:
It is exactly because our brother George is not interested in our religious difficulties, but is interested in the Trocadero Restaurant . . . [and] precisely because our uncle Henry does not approve of the theatrical ambitions of our sister Sarah that the family is like humanity. . . . Aunt Elizabeth is unreasonable, like mankind. Papa is excitable, like mankind. Our youngest brother is mischievous, like mankind. Grandpapa is stupid, like the world. (Ibid)
Many wouldn’t have chosen their families if the choice had been theirs. That’s why families are laboratories of neighbor-love, because families are a microcosm of the world.
The Community We’d Like to Un-Choose
If we are old enough and live in a region where we have options, we do choose our church community. But we don’t get to choose who else joins that community.
Invariably, after some time, our church community takes on similarities to our family. We must live with leaders who disappoint us and fellow members who see the world differently. Besides their irritating temperamental idiosyncrasies, they have different interests, ministry priorities, educational philosophies, and musical preferences than we do.
“Doing life” with them doesn’t end up looking or feeling like the community of our dreams — our idealized abstract concept. Perhaps we need a change, to find a different church where we can really thrive.
Perhaps. If the defects of the church community include things like ethical or doctrinal unfaithfulness, a change may be exactly what is needed for us to thrive.
But if our restlessness is due to the disillusionment of having to dealing with difficult, different people and defective programs, then perhaps the change we need is not in church community but in our willingness to love our neighbors, the ones God has given us to love.
This has always been God’s call on Christians. The early church was not all Acts 2:42–47. It was also Acts 6:1 and 1 Corinthians 11:17–22. Those first-generation churches were comprised of Jews and Gentiles, masters and slaves, rich and poor, people who preferred different leaders, people who strongly disagreed over nonessentials — people very much like the people in our church. It was hard doing life together then, like it is now (most likely it was harder then). That’s why we have 1 Corinthians 13 and Romans 12.
The distinguishing mark of the church has never been its utopic society but its members’ love for each other (John 13:35). And according to the Parable of the Good Samaritan, the glory of this love shines when it is costly and inconvenient.
“Go and Do Likewise”
If we ask with the lawyer, “Who is my neighbor?” we may not like Jesus’s answer. It may explode our dreams of love and community. Because instead of loving the neighbor we wanted, the soul-mate we would have chosen, Jesus may point us to the needy, different mess of a person in front of us — the one we feel like passing by — and say, “There is your neighbor.”
Perhaps he or she will be a stranger. But most likely he or she lives in our house, or on our street, or is a member of our church.
The parabolic Samaritan loved the wounded Jew as himself. And Jesus says to us what he said to the lawyer: “You go, and do likewise” (Luke 10:37).
Memorise: And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook: and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there. 1st Kings 17:4
Read: 1st Kings 17:2-6, Bible in one year: Genesis 45-46, Romans 1:1-17
Our God is awesome, and His ways are beyond finding out. Nobody can box God into a pattern or regimen. He can use anything He chooses to achieve His purpose on earth. God uses those who are lowly placed, and He also uses the rich. Luke 8:1-3 tells of some wealthy women who ministered to Jesus from their resources. Mary Magdalene and other women blessed by the Lord resolved to serve Him with the resources they had. Are you rich or wealthy? Do you serve the Lord with your substance? Experience has shown that those who have little are the ones who dare to give their all to God. This was the case with the widow who dropped her mites (Mark 12:41-44). Usually, the rich only give a fraction of what they have because they believe they are giving something big. However, God does not judge the size, He judges by proportion. Hence, the poor can give more than the rich in the sight of God, even if what they give is not as much as what the rich have given in quantity. Justifying why the widow’s gift was more than what the rich gave, Jesus in Mark 12:44 said:
“For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.”
Moreover, not only can God use humans to accomplish His purpose, He can also use animals. In 1st Kings 17:2-6, God sent ravens to deliver food to His servants, and they obeyed. We have equally seen Him use birds too. When we began to build the Redemption Camp in those early years, there were some trees that provided shade which I instructed the workers to preserve. Some little birds came in their hundreds of thousands to perch on these trees. Whenever they descended on them, there would be no leaves left on the trees the following day. They were also very noisy. I wondered if they were demonic birds. Some of my children who had guns would enter their midst and fire some shots; yet, they refused to go away. Some birds were hit by the fired bullets and dropped dead, but the rest stayed on. At some point, it appeared the more they were killed, the more they multiplied! The situation became unbearable. I therefore called on God to help us one morning. That evening, several eagles came and began to eat them up. Within hours, there was not a single one of them left. God has not stopped using birds! If He needs to send birds to meet your needs, He will do so; but you need to show Him that you can serve Him with all He has given you. How faithfully have you served God? To what extent can you risk your life and all He has given to you for His service?
God can mobilise all of His resources to satisfy the needs of those who can give Him their all
Memorise: Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. Ephesians 4:28
Read: Ephesians 4:25-29, 25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.
26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
27 Neither give place to the devil.
28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
Although God loves the sinner, He hates their sins. For example, because God hates stealing, He commanded us not to steal (Exodus 20:15). In spite of God’s commandment however, there is still so much stealing going on at workplaces these days. One way employees steal from their employers is by inflating the cost of items they are sent to buy in order to make some profit for themselves. If you were sent on an errand and you have some money leftover, it is your duty to return that money to the one who sent you. Today, many people corner such money into their pockets. =N=2000 for petrol and he buys =N=1500 worth, pocketing the rest. It is also wrong for you to ask for a bribe from your clients or customers before carrying out a task you are paid for. If you do so, you are stealing from your organisation’s reputation, goodwill and position as a credible workplace. What the organisation stands to lose is far worse than what you stand to gain from such a bribe. Are you a thief?
On the other hand, some employers are cruel, exploitative and they steal from their employees. If you detain your employee beyond the normal closing hours and you fail to pay them the stated amount for extra hours of work done, you are a thief. If you pay your workers below a liveable wage, you are exploitative. If you fail to pay salaries when due, it is cruel. If you take advantage of your staff by paying them peanuts just because there are no jobs around, you are exploiting them. If you fail to keep promises made to your staff, you are a thief. Organisations that fail to give their staff at least one day off from a week of work are cruel and exploitative. If you are using your workers without caring about their welfare, family and even the time they have to serve God, you are cruel. When you fail to promote hardworking staff at the pre-agreed time, you are a thief. An employee who goes into an extra-marital affair with a member of staff is exploitative and is a thief. There are some employers or top company executives who recruit young ladies only after they agree to sleep with them. This is cruel, exploitative and amounts to stealing. Are you cruel to your staff or are you stealing from them? Do you exploit your employees or subordinates? As a pastor, are you abusing your ecclesiastical authority over the inheritance of God under your care? It’s time to repent of these before the judgement of God comes knocking.
Examine your relationship with your employer or employee(s). Carry out restitution on any act of cruelty, exploitation or stealing. Bible in one year: Genesis 41:37-42:38
37 And the thing was good in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of all his servants.
38 And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is?
39 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art:
40 Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou.
41 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt.
42 And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph’s hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck;
43 And he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried before him, Bow the knee: and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt.
44 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.
45 And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphnathpaaneah; and he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On. And Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt.
46 And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land of Egypt.
47 And in the seven plenteous years the earth brought forth by handfuls.
48 And he gathered up all the food of the seven years, which were in the land of Egypt, and laid up the food in the cities: the food of the field, which was round about every city, laid he up in the same.
49 And Joseph gathered corn as the sand of the sea, very much, until he left numbering; for it was without number.
50 And unto Joseph were born two sons before the years of famine came, which Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bare unto him.
51 And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father’s house.
52 And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.
53 And the seven years of plenteousness, that was in the land of Egypt, were ended.
54 And the seven years of dearth began to come, according as Joseph had said: and the dearth was in all lands; but in all the land of Egypt there was bread.
55 And when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread: and Pharaoh said unto all the Egyptians, Go unto Joseph; what he saith to you, do.
56 And the famine was over all the face of the earth: and Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold unto the Egyptians; and the famine waxed sore in the land of Egypt.
57 And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands.
42 Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons, Why do ye look one upon another?
2 And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt: get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die.
3 And Joseph’s ten brethren went down to buy corn in Egypt.
4 But Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, Jacob sent not with his brethren; for he said, Lest peradventure mischief befall him.
5 And the sons of Israel came to buy corn among those that came: for the famine was in the land of Canaan.
6 And Joseph was the governor over the land, and he it was that sold to all the people of the land: and Joseph’s brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth.
7 And Joseph saw his brethren, and he knew them, but made himself strange unto them, and spake roughly unto them; and he said unto them, Whence come ye? And they said, From the land of Canaan to buy food.
8 And Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him.
9 And Joseph remembered the dreams which he dreamed of them, and said unto them, Ye are spies; to see the nakedness of the land ye are come.
10 And they said unto him, Nay, my lord, but to buy food are thy servants come.
11 We are all one man’s sons; we are true men, thy servants are no spies.
12 And he said unto them, Nay, but to see the nakedness of the land ye are come.
13 And they said, Thy servants are twelve brethren, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan; and, behold, the youngest is this day with our father, and one is not.
14 And Joseph said unto them, That is it that I spake unto you, saying, Ye are spies:
15 Hereby ye shall be proved: By the life of Pharaoh ye shall not go forth hence, except your youngest brother come hither.
16 Send one of you, and let him fetch your brother, and ye shall be kept in prison, that your words may be proved, whether there be any truth in you: or else by the life of Pharaoh surely ye are spies.
17 And he put them all together into ward three days.
18 And Joseph said unto them the third day, This do, and live; for I fear God:
19 If ye be true men, let one of your brethren be bound in the house of your prison: go ye, carry corn for the famine of your houses:
20 But bring your youngest brother unto me; so shall your words be verified, and ye shall not die. And they did so.
21 And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us.
22 And Reuben answered them, saying, Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? therefore, behold, also his blood is required.
23 And they knew not that Joseph understood them; for he spake unto them by an interpreter.
24 And he turned himself about from them, and wept; and returned to them again, and communed with them, and took from them Simeon, and bound him before their eyes.
25 Then Joseph commanded to fill their sacks with corn, and to restore every man’s money into his sack, and to give them provision for the way: and thus did he unto them.
26 And they laded their asses with the corn, and departed thence.
27 And as one of them opened his sack to give his ass provender in the inn, he espied his money; for, behold, it was in his sack’s mouth.
28 And he said unto his brethren, My money is restored; and, lo, it is even in my sack: and their heart failed them, and they were afraid, saying one to another, What is this that God hath done unto us?
29 And they came unto Jacob their father unto the land of Canaan, and told him all that befell unto them; saying,
30 The man, who is the lord of the land, spake roughly to us, and took us for spies of the country.
31 And we said unto him, We are true men; we are no spies:
32 We be twelve brethren, sons of our father; one is not, and the youngest is this day with our father in the land of Canaan.
33 And the man, the lord of the country, said unto us, Hereby shall I know that ye are true men; leave one of your brethren here with me, and take food for the famine of your households, and be gone:
34 And bring your youngest brother unto me: then shall I know that ye are no spies, but that ye are true men: so will I deliver you your brother, and ye shall traffick in the land.
35 And it came to pass as they emptied their sacks, that, behold, every man’s bundle of money was in his sack: and when both they and their father saw the bundles of money, they were afraid.
36 And Jacob their father said unto them, Me have ye bereaved of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away: all these things are against me.
37 And Reuben spake unto his father, saying, Slay my two sons, if I bring him not to thee: deliver him into my hand, and I will bring him to thee again.
38 And he said, My son shall not go down with you; for his brother is dead, and he is left alone: if mischief befall him by the way in the which ye go, then shall ye bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.
24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.
25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.
26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.
27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.
28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.
29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:
31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.
21 After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself.
2 There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples.
3 Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.
4 But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.
5 Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No.
6 And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.
7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea.
8 And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes.
9 As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread.
10 Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.
11 Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.
12 Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord.
13 Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise.
14 This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.