With each passing day it seems these teachings are becoming more timely. This is the fourth part of a ten part series I filmed before leaving the US this last time. I hope you enjoy, but I pray you are edified.
Thanks for watching, and commenting. With the New Year afoot, I will withold from any longwinded posts until after 2012 is in our rearview. God bless you all, and may He keep you safe in His embrace.
I’ve tried to stay away from this topic. I really have. Among the handful of divisive topic within Christendom, the topic of the timing of the rapture seems to top the list, or at least run neck and neck with the once saved always saved doctrine.
I’ve bitten my tongue more times than I can count, I tried to find distractions and other things to take my mind off of what I’ve been seeing, but to no avail. I guess something just doesn’t go away if you ignore it long enough.
In the past three weeks I’ve gotten no less than twenty e-mails encouraging me to get my affairs in order, find someone to take care of my cat, (a cat which I don’t have, but I think they were just generalizing to make a point) because the rapture was happening. This time it was for real because they felt it, and we all know how reliable feelings are in regards to God’s timing on any given matter.
And so, patiently as always, I would write back to these individuals, give them scriptural references as to why I did not believe they knew the timing of the catching away, and all I got in return were threats that if I didn’t get on board and believe in the rapture, I’d get left behind just to be taught a lesson.
Now hold on just a minute. Since when is a man’s salvation predicated upon believing in the rapture and not believing in Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, who came and lived and died and rose again?
We’re starting to tread dangerous ground here, and the more the world comes undone, the more shrill the voices of those who cry rapture will become. By my count, just from the people who have contacted me, we should have been raptured no less than twenty times in the last three weeks. And yet we’re still here, still having to go to work and earn a living and feed our families and serve our God and be living epistles of the love of Jesus in us.
In between visiting my family and my wife’s family over Christmas, I got a little quiet time and started meditating upon the book of second Peter. I went through it verse by verse, wrote down impressions and thoughts, and when I came upon the verses talking about the scoffers who would come in the last days asking where the promise of the Lord’s coming was, I began to wonder if these scoffers would be justified in their scoffing to a certain extent.
If we keep asking family, friends and neighbors alike to watch our pets and feed our goldfish ‘cause we’re about to go on a one way trip to heaven every few days, chances are they will eventually start rolling their eyes, and shaking their heads in pity.
It’s not about the rapture, it’s about Jesus!
Believe me when I tell you I am as desperate to get to heaven as you are. It is the goal. It is the prize. It is the crown we receive as ones who having been good and faithful servants are welcome into their Father’s rest.
Desiring something and convincing ourselves that what we desire will manifest itself if we desire it hard enough are two different things. Just because I want to leave this mortal coil behind and be with my Lord does not mean I can will Him into appearing on the clouds before the time God has established.
If we believe God at His word, and come to terms with the truth that no man knows the day or the hour, then we will not live lives of distraction and failed expectations, but labor ceaselessly until that blessed day when Jesus does return.
Matthew 24:36, “But of that day and hour no one knows, no, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.”
Prayers of the Old Testament The Prayer of Elisha continued...
We are not doing anyone any favors by twisting and distorting Scripture in the hopes that our pews and offering baskets will be fuller. The day will come and it is soon approaching when those to whom we have preached a counterfeit gospel and a counterfeit Christ will call us to task for not having prepared them spiritually, and for not having told them the truth while they still had time to draw closer and grow in God.
Elijah looks upon Elisha, and I can picture him shrugging his shoulders as he spoke to him. It wasn’t Elijah that called Elisha it was God who called him. Elijah was just the vessel by which Elisha was called, and having done his part, his answer is neither out of place or exceedingly unfeeling.
Is it man who has called you or is it God who has called you?
If it is God who has called you, why do you feel the need to explain your calling to men and get their approval?
1 Kings 19:21, “So Elisha turned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen and slaughtered them and boiled their flesh, using the oxen’s equipment, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and followed Elijah and served him.”
Most people I meet who want to be in ministry but have never been called to it, confide that they would do more for God if they could maintain their safety net. Essentially, they would be more willing to step out in faith if there was no faith required to do the work of God.
If you want to know how a man’s ministry will play out, look to see how it began. Elisha took his livelihood – having been a plowman who plowed with his oxen – slaughtered his livelihood, boiled the meat, and gave it to the people to eat.
There was no half measure to Elisha’s commitment. There was no notion of a safety net, or having something to come back to if serving Elijah didn’t pan out.
If God has called you then God will provide, supernaturally if need be. This is why it’s so important to know it is God who has called you. Some men get carried away because someone in the Sunday school class they taught told them they should have been a preacher, others look to the opulence to which some evangelists have become accustomed and pursue ministry for the selfsame reason, and others still see it as a safe career choice with a nice retirement from their chosen denomination.
Of all the reasons men enter ministry, it is only those whom God has called that stick to it during the hard times, and the trying times. The hirelings pack up and move on as soon the going gets tough, because they were never in ministry for the right reasons to begin with.
Elisha made a conscious decision to do away with every safety net, burn every bridge, and devote himself fully to his calling. There was no going back for Elisha, and knowing this, he focused all his effort on fulfilling his calling and being a vessel of honor in the hands of God.
Not surprisingly, Elisha performed more recorded miracles than anyone in the Bible other than Jesus.
The takeaway for us in having glimpsed Elisha’s calling, is that once we are called of God, and are certain we are called of God, we commit to the calling to which we have been called wholeheartedly, without reservation, and without delay.
Another aspect of Elisha’s calling we have a tendency to overlook is that he didn’t start out dividing the Jordan River, healing Naaman, or raising a woman’s son from the dead. He started out serving Elijah.
The first lesson all who are called of God must learn is to serve. No matter how great an anointing one might have, no matter how eloquent, mesmerizing, engaging or deep, if they have not learned to serve it will show in their character, and eventually adversely affect their ministry.
Elisha followed and served until God called him to greater things.
Some of us are called to serve for a year, some for ten, some for forty, but however long we are called to learn the lesson of serving, when we finally graduate, we will be called upon to continue serving others faithfully, humbly and selflessly.
We learn to lead by learning to follow, and we learn authority by learning to serve.
Although many would like nothing more than to bypass their season of serving and their season of following, it is something God has established so we might be ready, mature, balanced, and complete when He does call us to step out on our own.
Although opinions vary on how long Elisha followed and served Elijah, estimates range from six years, to ten years, to twelve years, and some even to twenty years. This was by no means a short term stint, it wasn’t something Elisha did over the summer, it was ongoing, protracted, and time consuming, yet Elisha continued to serve because it was what God called him to.
As obedient servants we perform the tasks and duties to which we have been called. No one said they would be glamorous, no one said they would garner us attention, fame and fortune, all we know is that God deemed them necessary, and appointed us to carry them out.
Knowing God needed it done and He chose you to do it ought to be enough, but for some it just isn’t. As pride continues to flare up at inappropriate times, men begin to think themselves underutilized in the plan of God, followed by a predisposition to drag their feet whenever called upon to labor, and capped off with the inevitable bitterness congruent with believing we deserve a higher profile task than has been assigned us.
What we so often fail to acknowledge is that it isn’t the size of the task God assigns us which determines our reward, but our obedience and faithfulness in carrying it out.
The day was hot and the dust kicked up by the eleven yoke of oxen before him caused the young man to wipe at his eyes and breathe through his nose. He was a plowman, one who plowed the tough and rugged ground until it broke under the constant strain. The young man knew there was nothing glamorous about his career, but without fertile soil one could not plant seed, without seed there would be no harvest, and without harvest men would starve.
For Elisha it was just another day, no different than any other which came before it. Oftentimes those days which change our lives forever start out like any other. There are no trumpeters heralding a change, there are no announcers forewarning us of those moments which alter the course of our very existence. Every day has a beginning, middle, and an end, twenty-four hours which in essence aren’t really hours, but a way by which us temporal beings measure time. This was the day in which Elisha’s life was going to change and he didn’t even know it.
We can’t plan for those days, we can’t prepare for those days, they come upon us suddenly and without warning, and all we have to do is be willing to step out of our comfort zone, and follow after the guidance of the Spirit of God.
Elisha was plowing a field, just one nameless face among twelve other men doing the exact same thing, when out of nowhere a man walks up to him and throws his mantle on him. There was no explanation, the man didn’t forewarn him of what he was about to do, and by reading the words of Scripture, he didn’t even place the mantle upon him gently, but rather threw it.
Instinctively Elisha knew what this meant, because in those days only kings and prophets generally wore such mantles. A mantle during Elisha’s time was symbolic of the owner’s calling, position, and authority.
Elisha’s only choice in this entire unfolding was to either accept the calling, or reject it, pretending as though he did not understand what had just occurred.
Even before we get into our discussion on the prayer of Elisha, there are great nuggets of wisdom we can glean from his calling, and his reaction to his calling.
There are moments in life when God calls us or instructs us to do a specific thing, and rather than comply and obey, we pretend as though we did not fully understand His instructions, or did not clearly hear His voice.
Although God knows we heard and we heard clearly, we attempt to call Him a liar to His face by shrugging our shoulders and saying, ‘I didn’t know you wanted me to do that.’
Elisha’s calling was not what you would call the clearest and most vivid of callings. There was plenty of room for him to pretend as though Elijah’s actions did not compute, and that the mantle being thrown upon him had been an accident.
Elisha, however, had an honest and sincere heart. Having understood what Elijah’s actions meant Elisha left his oxen and ran after him.
There was no delay in Elisha’s reaction. There was no concern for what his fellow plowmen would say, or what his employer would say. A stranger had thrown a mantle upon him, and knowing what it meant Elisha ran after him.
1 Kings 19:20, “And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah, and said, ‘please let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.’ And he said to him, ‘Go back again, for what have I done to you?’”
By all accounts a man like Elijah would be labeled unloving, abrasive, short tempered, and downright mean-spirited by today’s exceedingly sensitive culture. Here was a young man who left his oxen in the field, chased down the man who had thrown his mantle upon him, asked to go say goodbye to his father and mother, and all the fellow said was, ‘go back again, for what have I done to you?’
Why, Elijah didn’t even acknowledge Elisha’s implied honor of him as many would nowadays, because to say ‘I will follow you’ implies one is worthy of being followed.
Nowadays, rather than do their duty and simply walk away, men hold up banners and signs and posters of themselves pleading and begging with people to follow them rather than the One who sent them. If one happens to come along as Elisha did to Elijah, they are quickly made to feel at ease to the point that truth isn’t even spoken in their lives for fear of losing a follower.
The system may have jaded me over the years, this I cannot deny, but it doesn’t make me any less right, and you know it because you’re seeing it. Men love to be praised, adored, followed, and obeyed. Men love to have authority over others, and they exert that authority liberally whenever it suits them.
I know I am in the minority, but I respect Elijah’s reaction to Elisha’s statement.
Elijah knew all he had done was what God had told him to do, and now the choice and decision making was up to Elisha alone. Elijah did not try to sugarcoat the calling, he didn’t try to talk Elisha into following him, he threw his mantle upon him, and having completed the task with which he had been tasked, walked away.
Since when did it become our duty to make Jesus appealing in lieu of preaching the Christ of the Bible? Since when did it become our duty to highlight notions such as prosperity, blessing, perfect health, and an existence absent of trials in lieu of the truth the Scriptures bear out in regards to what a true servant of God can expect to endure at the hands of the godless?
When it comes to Christmas, Christians have a wide range of beliefs. Some refuse to acknowledge Christmas altogether, others believe it ought to be celebrated to the fullest, and others still forego the mention of Christ in lieu of an overweight man with a beard, wearing a red suit, sneaking into people’s homes and leaving unrequited presents just for the fun of it.
Although we as believers can disagree about a great many things, from whether or not Jesus was born on Christmas, to what kind of animals were in the manger, to what ethnicity the wise men were, there are certain things all who name the name of Christ can agree upon, and in fact must agree upon.
We know that Jesus was born of a virgin, Christ the Lord the Savior of mankind. Above all, this is the most important component of our entire faith, and one we must agree upon. Whether you celebrate Christmas or you don’t, let the knowledge that God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son fill you with joy, peace, and gratitude toward Him.
And to those of you who do celebrate Christmas, by all means, Merry Christmas. May Christ dwell in you!
Luke 2:10, “Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.’”
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.
P.S. The Kindle version of 'Fundamental Doctrines' is up and live on Amazon, and for a limited time you can get it for free through the kindle lending program known as KDP Select. I will include the link, and by all means take advantage of the opportunity. If not, you will have to shell out a whole $3.99, the price of a cup of coffee, and I know I will likely get flack for putting a price on it, but then again, the minimal proceeds do go to a good cause. I did check the conversion, it is good, no weird code or anything. God bless.
Put on your dancing shoes, shake loose your tambourine, we survived December 21, 2012, and now it’s time to celebrate. Somehow we avoided the end of the world. No meteors collided with our little blue planet, no aliens showed up unannounced, nobody sprouted a third eye, nor was the whole of mankind magically transformed into kinder gentler versions of themselves.
Yes! We avoided annihilation in spite of the fact that a bunch of guys in loincloths a few thousand years ago ran out of rock while chiseling their calendar. If you can’t trust the Mayans, I guess you can’t trust anybody anymore. Hey, weren’t they the guys who cut the beating hearts out of people’s chests, decapitated folk to appease weather gods, and other gruesome things that weren’t very Christ like?
Only I know the amount of e-mails I’ve gotten concerning this singular topic over the past few months, and from men and women whom I would have considered mature in the faith. Each – in their unique and roundabout way – wanted to know the same thing, that is, what I thought would happen on December 21, 2012.
At first I would jokingly write back something pithy, since I am known for my pith, but then I started getting annoyed and even somewhat perturbed, because these were after all professing Christians, who were taking a myth from a culture that had no tangential relationship with Christ Jesus, and running with it as though their hair was on fire.
It has become very easy and even somewhat of a frequent occurrence for our generation of believers to mix the sacred and the profane as though they belonged together under the same umbrella of general philosophy or belief structure.
Rather than submit to the authority of God’s word, we are quick to borrow from the godless and the heathen to uphold our preconceived notions and suppositions. Even though the Bible may hold the contrarian view to what we’ve adopted as our pet doctrine, we will site some long extinct tribe whose shaman once read the selfsame thing we assert in the intestines of a freshly slaughtered bovine as our reason for believing what we believe.
We will go out of our way, bend ourselves into pretzels, and butcher the word of God beyond recognition just to make it say what we want it to say, but we will take some guys whose notion of a good time was speed decapitations at their word.
The world was supposed to end, but it didn’t. We’re still here, still breathing the same air, still having to deal with the neighbor who thinks the hallway is the new dumpster. In case you got distracted by this distraction, until the next distraction, if it wouldn’t be too much of a bother could you possible lend a hand, perhaps put your shoulder into it a tad, and help those of us who never stopped laboring to further the kingdom of God?
No, I’m not asking for money, just for professing Christians to start preaching Christ with sincerity of heart, and the same feverish fervor they preached the Mayan End of Days.
Some of us have grown past holding our breaths from one date to another, and keep working through the frenzy, all the way through the big letdown, without rest or respite. Once in a while it would be nice to know we have some company along the way since safety in numbers is a proven truism.
There will always be a date, whether in the distant or not too distant future toward which men look with anticipation. Whether from men setting dates for the catching away, Mayans getting bored with chiseling into rock and giving up the project, or an ancient Swahili legend about an old lady who counted 2014 pebbles into a jar after which it spontaneously combusted (fear not, I made the last one up) there’s always some date to which we look as the definitive day when everything will change.
As I said, the world did not end this morning. This, however, does not mean that the world will never end, or that the approaching darkness is not a real and present reality. When it does happen, it will happen on God’s time, the One God, the only God, the God who spoke the universe into being, and due to whose good pleasure this rock we call home still spins.
If we do not stop trying to blend the sacred and the profane, to borrow what we like from a dozen different cultures while marginalizing the word of God, we will find ourselves shackled and silenced before we realize what’s happening.
While believers of all levels of maturity were having a hissy fit over the Mayan calendar and what it meant, real things have been happening in the world…troubling, dangerous things which will have dire consequences.
Prayers of the Old Testament The Prayer of Solomon continued...
1 Kings 3:10, “And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing.”
The Lord can be pleased, but He can also be displeased by what we ask of Him. Our requests, petitions and prayers can bring joy to His heart, or cause His heart to grow weary. It all depends upon what we ask of Him, and whether or not it shows the requisite maturity God has come to expect of His children.
God has invested wisdom, God has invested knowledge, He has invested His Spirit and His will in our lives, and He wants to see the transformation in our thinking and our actions because of this. God does not invest in us hoping we remain the same, perpetually childish, perpetually unthankful, and perpetually distracted by the things of this world. When God pours into us, it is with the singular purpose of transforming us into an image pleasing in His sight.
Anyone who’s had children knows that one of the greatest joys of parenthood is seeing one’s offspring go through the stages of development, becoming wiser, more mature, and more self-sufficient with each subsequent stage. In short, parents love to see their children grow up.
When we are infants we are wholly dependent upon our parents for survival. As we grow, we begin to fend for ourselves, growing more self-reliant with time, until we are finally on our own earning our own way.
Our spiritual wellbeing is dependent and predicated upon continued growth and maturity. If we remain in a state of infancy, then we can never hope to be the warriors God grooms His children to become. If our prayers continue to be self-centered and vain, they will never please the Lord, nor bring joy to His heart.
1 Kings 3:11-12, “Then God said to him: ‘Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked long life for yourself, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern justice, behold, I have done according to your words; see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you.’”
Of all the things Solomon could have asked for, of all the things he could have requested of God, things which would have profited and benefited him, he asked for something that would profit and benefit the people of God instead.
Due to the fact that Solomon did not put himself first, God answered his prayer, and gave him a wise and understanding heart to the extent that there had not been anyone like him before, nor would any like him arise after.
What would you ask God for if you were given this once in a lifetime opportunity?
What would you request of the Lord if He came to you in a dream and said, ‘Ask! What shall I give you?’ Would your request be as selfless as Solomon’s? Would you ask for something that would benefit the people of God rather than yourself?
Each of us must come to the place of self-denial in our walk as Solomon did. It is in selflessness that love for others can thrive, and grow, and produce much fruit for the kingdom of God. It is in selflessness that we are able to devote our time, our effort and our resources toward doing good and making an impact in a world which is becoming increasingly hedonistic with each passing day.
If selfishness still has a place in our hearts, we will always find a reason or excuse not to reach out or stand in the gap. If selfishness has not been thoroughly exterminated, we will always find a way of justifying inaction, and even if we manage to go and do what God has commanded us to do, we do it halfheartedly, attempting to find the easiest route to obedience rather than the most fulfilling.
It is when we grasp the true value of wisdom, understanding, discernment, and other intangibles only God can grant us that we begin to desire them. If I do not value wisdom, I will not ask God for wisdom. If I do not value understanding, I will not ask God for understanding.
When the offer is made, and we are able to ask for anything, we will ask for what we perceive as having the greatest value.
If our minds are renewed, and our hearts beat for Christ alone, we will know the true worth of more of Him in our lives, and because we know, it will be the thing we ask for. If we live for His glory, then we will ask for the necessary virtues wherein we can bring glory to His name. Yes, it all comes back to the heart, and to whom our heart truly belongs.
1 Kings 3:13, “And I have also given you what you have not asked: both riches and honor, so that there shall not be anyone like you among the kings all your days.”
Because he was selfless in his request and because his request pleased the Lord, the Lord also gave Solomon certain things He didn’t ask for.
The lesson in Solomon’s prayer is as simple as it is profound. It is a lesson echoed by Christ Jesus Himself when he admonished us to ‘seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,’ and when we are faithful in this, everything else will be added on.
There are issues of paramount importance in our life, as well as issues which are peripherally important. To our detriment we often confuse and interchange the two, and seek after the peripherally important things, while neglecting those of paramount importance.
Even before God granted him wisdom and understanding Solomon was wise enough to know the difference between the two, and having realized the incalculable value of a wise and understanding heart, it is the one thing he asked of the Lord.
Prayers of the Old Testament The Prayer of Solomon continued...
Solomon realized instinctively what Paul would later verbalize in his letter to the Romans, that there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Whether to bless a nation or judge a nation God appoints its authorities, its rulers and its kings. As creatures limited in understanding, oftentimes we do not perceive or understand the plan of God in the appointment of a certain leader, or a certain authority. One of the most common reasons why we cannot see the plan of God is due to the underlying assumption that the leader or authority was appointed for our blessing rather than our judgment. We want to believe that God will bless us in spite of ourselves, but His word confirms the contrary.
It is when we open our eyes to the reality that God establishes rulers to both bless and judge that we come to understand why certain men are in power in certain nations.
How can you not understand the sovereignty of God and everything it implies when your father, once a shepherd boy, became king of Israel? How can you not understand that God does as He wills, when contrary to every expectation his father had felled the giant Goliath with a slingshot and a stone?
Solomon did not forget the lessons of the past. He did not forget the life his father had lived, and all the kindnesses and blessings God had shown him. Because he did not forget these things, Solomon came to understand the nature of God more fully than his contemporaries.
Solomon was not an uneducated man. Since his father was king, chances are good he had the best schooling of the time, likely groomed to one day be king himself. When Solomon speaks of his being as a little child concerning leading the nation of Israel, he does so out of true humility and sincerity before God, even though at the time he was the most qualified individual in the kingdom. Since his father had been king before him, Solomon had a legitimate claim to the throne based on bloodline. His father had chosen him, God had chosen him, he’d been groomed to lead, yet here he was speaking to the Lord in his dream insisting he fell short of the necessary attributes to lead.
I keep returning to this because it is of vital importance whether God has called us to lead men, or serve Him in any capacity. No matter how easy or difficult the task might seem, being dependent upon God for guidance, counsel, and wisdom are always of utmost importance. Oftentimes it’s the things we think we can do on our own – without the aid or intervention of God – which we seem to muddle up more than anything else.
If little foxes can spoil the whole vine, then small decisions without the Lord’s input can be detrimental to our walk, wellbeing, and efficiency. The reason for this is that no decision is isolated or insular. One decision leads to another, then another, and the domino effect produced by the initial decision, even if in our minds it seemed like an irrelevancy, can be frightening.
1 Kings 3:9, “Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?”
And now we come to the heart of Solomon’s prayer, an altruistic and selfless prayer if there ever was one. The impetus for this prayer was neither an easy life for Solomon, nor a more comfortable existence. The impetus was the people of God, and Solomon’s prayer centered on this singular desire of having an understanding heart to judge God’s people.
Solomon also prays for discernment, and once more it is a request after God’s own heart because he does not ask to discern between more and less profitable, or easier and harder, but between good and evil.
I realize full well that between relativism and moral equivalency we’ve pretty much done away with the difference between good and evil, having considered ourselves so superior to any who came before us that we’ve redefined everything until it meant absolutely nothing, but to God there is still good, and there is still evil, and I pray the desire of our heart is to discern between the two.
There is a marked difference between the wisdom of the world and the wisdom of God and more often than not, in the short term, the wisdom of God looks like foolishness to those of the world.
Solomon asks for wisdom, not because he wanted to impress those around him, not because he wanted to prove to his contemporaries how smart he was, but for the most altruistic and selfless of reasons…to judge the people of God wisely and with understanding.
God is pleased when we pray selfless prayers. He is pleased when we come before Him and ask not for ourselves, not for our glory, but for the furthering of His kingdom and the blessing of the entire body of Christ.
When we are diligent in our study of God’s word, we discover why God doesn’t answer certain prayers no matter how often or how passionately we might pray them.
James 4:3, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.”
Solomon’s prayer was not for himself, it was not centered on his person, his wellbeing, or his status. Solomon’s prayer was for the wellbeing of the people of God, and for his equipping as an instrument of God in guiding them.
Selfless prayers are rare nowadays, but God honors selfless prayers because they come from selfless hearts which are in harmony with God’s will for us.
As ardently as self is preached from many a pulpit nowadays, God still honors selflessness among His people, and though every televangelist might insist that God has changed, His word tells us He has not.
Prayers of the Old Testament The Prayer of Solomon continued...
Solomon slept, yet his reasoning was active. If we read the passage carefully, we realize Solomon was speaking to God in his dream. Essentially, Solomon was praying and having a dialogue with God while sleeping and dreaming.
1 Kings 3:5, “At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, ‘Ask! What shall I give you?’”
Even in his dream Solomon acknowledges the goodness and great mercy God had shown toward him. His gratitude and thankfulness for what the Lord had done on his behalf, going back to his father David, ran so deep that even in his sleeping hours Solomon meditated upon the goodness of the Lord.
Do we acknowledge God’s kindness for us as Solomon did? Is thankfulness so imprinted upon our hearts that even in our sleep we pray prayers of thanks to God?
1 Kings 3:6, “And Solomon said: ‘You have shown great mercy to your servant David my father, because he walked before You in truth, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with You; You have continued this great kindness for him, and you have given him a son to sit on his throne as it is this day. Now, Lord my God, You have made Your servant king instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in.”
Not only does Solomon acknowledge God’s goodness, he also acknowledges his own impotence and ignorance in regards to leading his nation and his people. Solomon realizes that though he now sat in his father’s chair, he was not his father David. The words of this prayer confirm Solomon’s acknowledged need of the Lord’s help in order to prosper and succeed as king.
Solomon did not look upon his position with pride. He did not beat his chest and assume that he would now lead the people into a good future, because he was humble enough to be aware of his own shortcomings and limitations.
By the words which Solomon prayed, we come to realize he was wise before he asked for wisdom and it showed in the declaration of his own limitations and outright impotence. He saw himself a little child who neither knew how to go out, nor how to come in. This man was now king over the whole of Israel, but knowing his own limitations, how tenuous power is, and that he would have big shoes to fill, he humbled himself in the sight of the Lord and prayed this prayer of meekness and submission.
Although in many instances Solomon’s life is a lesson in what not to do, and how not to go about living one’s life, in this case we can learn something positive from his prayer. Something we ought to do and practice whenever we come before God.
Solomon knew God, who He was, and what He can do through the prism of what He had already done for his father. Solomon spoke of God’s mercy and kindness toward his father David, because he had seen these things firsthand and knew of what he spoke.
We cannot pray effectively, we cannot petition God successfully, if we do not know the God to whom we are praying. If we do not know God, we have no hope of getting our prayers answered by Him. Solomon knew God; therefore his prayer was formulated in such a way wherein the attributes of God were evident and at the forefront of his affirmations.
If we possess no knowledge of God, how can we hope to entreat His favor?
Tragically the church, by and large, has adopted the ‘best of both worlds’ mentality, wherein many believe they can have a tangential knowledge of God, enjoy the things of this world, and still compel Him to answer when He is called upon.
We must know God intimately, we must establish, nurture, and grow a relationship with Him through prayer, fasting, and the daily consumption of His word. To know that God exists, to believe that He is, without knowing the fullness of who He is, is a recipe for disaster. When we will need Him most, and call upon Him with the greatest of desperation, if our knowledge of God did not extend beyond the fact that He exists, our prayers will go unanswered.
Knowledge of God and His goodness gives us boldness to approach Him, to come before Him with a certainty only an intimate familiarity of Him can give. When we know God, we are not timid in our approach of Him. When we know God, we are not faint-hearted, bashful, or otherwise reticent. Because we know Him, because we know He is a good and loving Father, we approach the mercy seat with courage, steadfastness and boldness.
The knowledge of God and our awareness and acknowledgement of our own limitations are a powerful combination…one that God does not overlook or ignore.
Solomon acknowledged his own impotence, frailty, and limitations, while simultaneously acknowledging the goodness and mercy of the Lord. He knew it is the Lord who lifts high, it is the Lord who elevates, and it is the Lord who gives wisdom and honor and victory.
Why is it so hard for some to acknowledge the providence and sovereignty of God in their lives? Why is it so difficult for some to give God the glory and the honor for all, without equivocation or an attempt to siphon off some of the glory for themselves?
As long as Solomon deferred to God, as long as he acknowledged his own impotence and served God faithfully, his reign was good and noble and just. As soon as he turned his heart away from the Lord, and began to follow after his flesh more than after the leading of the Lord, we see the ruination which befell him, and the sorrow of heart which enveloped him.
God’s ways are good, and whenever and wherever He leads and guides us we must give Him the honor and glory rightly His.
Prayers of the Old Testament The Prayer of Solomon continued...
‘Ask! What shall I give you?’ Not only was this a generous offer from a generous God, it was also a test for Solomon. Nothing reveals the heart of a man faster than offering him his one true desire.
As such I do not believe that positions or possessions change people, they just amplify their true nature whatever that nature happens to be. I’ve known people who came to prominence swiftly, whether materially or influentially and who remained the same down-to-earth, good natured men and women they’d always been. I’ve also known those who came to prominence, and pretended they did not know me, and wanted nothing to do with me once they achieved their fame or their fortune.
The seed, the nature, had always been there, but the attaining of their heart’s desire amplified them a hundred or a thousand fold.
Whenever we are given liberty we are also being tested. When God encourages us to ask, He does so as a good and loving Father who is showing generosity toward His children, but also as a wise Father who is testing the hearts of His children in the same breath.
Those who have children will understand the following better than those who do not. From early youth we attempt to instill good virtues, morals, wisdom, and understanding in our offspring. We are tireless in showing them the path they must go, in encouraging them to follow in the footsteps of Christ, but there comes a moment when we must trust our children to make their own decisions, to put one foot in front of the other and begin their own journey.
Before this day comes, we test our children repeatedly even if we don’t realize it. The first time we let our son or daughter spend the evening alone without supervision or a babysitter is a test to see whether or not they are responsible enough to be on their own. The first time we entrust the car to our son or daughter after they’ve gotten a license, is a test to see whether or not they bring it back in one piece, and if they are mature enough to care for something like a car. The examples are many, but the end result is the same, and God tests our hearts and true intentions in much the same manner.
God makes the same offer to us as He did to Solomon, yet often times does not grant us that which we desire, because our desires are detrimental to our spiritual wellbeing. Even when God says no, it is in love and for our own good. Simple as that revelation might be, it took me a very long time to come to terms with it, receive it and accept it, because some of the things I asked of God seemed selfless enough to my own understanding.
Often times we try to piece together why God said no, when all we ought to be doing is accepting His answer as the best possible outcome for our lives.
One day, perhaps we will know why God said no to certain prayers, but it will not be while we are on this earth, and possessing the limited understanding we possess. But then again, when we are in His presence, hearing ‘well done, good and faithful servant,’ it is highly doubtful we will still be wondering why God didn’t answer a particular prayer.
‘What do you want?’ that is the question God poses to each of us in His own unique way, and based on our answer He determines why we want what we want, our level of maturity, whether our request is selfish or selfless, and a score of other things.
I have a niece and a nephew who couldn’t be further apart when it comes to personalities. Eric reminds me of myself when I was younger, very introspective and thoughtful about every little thing, and Lois who reminds me of a whirlwind wrapped in a tornado.
Ever since they were old enough to walk, I take each of them to the toy store for their birthdays, and tell them to pick out whatever they want as my present to them.
While Eric most often picks one item, and even that almost insignificant like a spinning top or a few marbles, Lois goes to town and puts a real dent in my wallet.
When I would ask Eric why he doesn’t get more things, he just gives me this quizzical look and says, ‘I don’t need them.’ When I finally asked Lois why she got so much stuff every time, she just shrugged her shoulders and said, ‘because I wanted it, and because you said I could.’
Two siblings only a year apart, yet very different in their reasoning as far as being told they can have anything.
It warms God’s heart when He offers us anything, and we turn around and say, ‘there is nothing more I need, for I have You and in having You I have everything.’
If our will and desire are sanctified and shrouded in God’s Spirit, what we ask for will be of great spiritual value, and will aid us in our walk toward eternity. What we ask God for reveals where our treasure is, and which life we deem more important, whether this life or the life to come.
Any time our will is involved, any time we have to make a decision concerning something, it is a test. God wants to see our level of maturity, God wants to see whether He is enough, whether we worship Him in spirit and in truth for who He is and what He has already done, or for what we hope to gain from Him by mimicking a relationship.
Bad news travels fast and worse news travels faster. Twenty children are dead, countless individuals are traumatized, and everyone’s trying to find an explanation as to how such evil can manifest in an individual from dissecting his psychological profile, to blaming it on mind control.
Truth is, evil is evil, and although it takes a special kind of evil to do what was done in Connecticut, it is not exclusive to North America as on the same day a man in China stabbed some twenty children in a school.
Evil becomes more pronounced as righteousness becomes less apparent. The consequences of rejecting God wholesale are incalculable, and we’ve only begun to see the tip of a deep and gargantuan iceberg.
What I find off-putting at best and downright disturbing at worse is that many are quick to use this tragedy to push their own agendas. There is a time and place for politicking, there is a time and place for debates and reforms, but this is neither the time nor place.
Our hearts must grieve if only to remind us that we are human beings, created by one Maker, of the same dust and of the same breath. Our hearts must grieve, for to do anything less would be to acknowledge if only to ourselves that such tragedies have become so commonplace they no longer affect us as they ought anymore.
It’s easy to blame God or ask where God was in a situation such as this, but when man rebels against God, He gives man over to a reprobate mind. It is the absence of God that brings about such events, not the presence of Him.
For what it’s worth, I will post the next installment of the Reality Check series I filmed while in America this last time. I do so only because I believe it is timely.
May God mend the broken hearts, and may we humbly come before Him in repentance as a nation once more.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr. Reality Check Part 3
The last sermon I preached during this last stint in the States was about the different stages of warning God employs when He is attempting to reach a nation, and stir it to wakefulness. Since the drive home was longer than I had anticipated that night, I had time to think on the topic, roll it around in my mind, and try to understand it deeper than I had before.
The reason I had to think about this particular topic is because the way I preach does not lend itself well to notes, cheat sheets, diagrams, or three point sermons. I believe God knows what the people need to hear, and when we try to manufacture a sermon, or come to a meeting with a canned sermon, we are inhibiting God from moving in us and through us, and speaking the message the people need.
Yes, I do believe in preparation, I do believe in getting into the Word and spending time alone with God, but as far as planning ahead of time as to what you will say, I’ve never subscribed to that particular school.
When we study the word of God it becomes apparent that there are stages to God’s warnings until judgment is finally poured out. First, God first sends a prophet to a nation. The prophet is tasked with prophesying impending judgment, counseling the nation to repent. At the time, the message seems so improbable, and even impossible, that most often the man whom God sent to warn is mocked and ridiculed for the message he was tasked to deliver. There are instances however – Nineveh being one of them – when the people repent and turn their hearts back to God. If the nation repents at the words of the prophet, then that’s as far as it goes.
If the nation does not repent, God begins to establish watchmen. A watchman is one who looks, sees judgment approaching from afar off, and begins to cry aloud that judgment is coming. One thing we must understand about a watchman is that he sees the judgment approaching before others within the household of faith see it. If a man calling himself a watchman is warning of the same thing the six o’clock news is warning of, then he is a watchman in name only.
Watchmen are by the nature of their calling misunderstood. Due to their vantage point, they see further into the future than those not established in the watchtower, and what they see usually conflicts with what others around him see, envision or hope.
Watchmen watch. They look afar off, and report what they see, not what they think they see, hope they see, or interpret they see.
After the watchmen’s warnings go unheeded, God proceeds to remove His hedge of protection and blessing from the nation in question. Since both the warnings of the prophets and the watchmen went unheeded, and in most cases the nation waxed worse becoming futile in their hearts and actions, God is left with no choice but to continue taking steps in fulfilling what He forewarned of.
After blessing, favor and protection is removed from a nation and the nation still continues to ignore or otherwise disobey God – coming to the point of being in open rebellion against Him – the last and final step God takes is to pour out His judgment upon the rebellious and disobedient nation.
Pray as we might for God to withhold His judgment, if repentance is not forthcoming His righteousness demands He pour out what He promised He would. I mention this only because I’ve run into well-meaning, good-hearted people recently who don’t believe God will judge America because they’ve prayed towards this end. God will not override His justice, or righteousness I fear, and the death of Christ on the cross proves this fact beyond doubt.
If God did not override His justice, holiness and righteousness to save the life of His only begotten Son, He will not do so to spare a rebellious and unthankful nation just because we ask Him to.
As yet, we are not seeing the judgment of God, although it is evident to one and all that the favor, blessing, and protection of God have been removed from us.
Because rebellion is still the order of the day, and because even those within the household of faith have laid down their standards and are actively embracing the ways of the world, judgment is only a matter of time.
For those who were wondering, yes, I made it home safe and sound, although some twenty-four hours later than I had planned. Spending twenty-one hours in a car after spending almost eighteen hours either on planes or in airports is taxing, and I don’t recommend it for anyone.
Nothing tests one’s patience so well as snowstorms and inept bureaucracy.
Since I first posted the teachings on the Elementary Principles of Christ, I’ve been getting requests from individuals who wanted to print them out and distribute them to friends and family alike. Although I agreed, the posts were just transcripts of a series I did for our television program and I always felt as though they could be cleaned up a bit as far as grammar and punctuation were concerned.
As happens more than I would like, other projects got front burner status, and so this project got demoted to back burner status.
It was thus until a sister named April wrote and offered to help with both editing and layout of any books I wanted to publish. Her offer was an answer to prayer, and I want to take this opportunity to thank her for her effort and the time she put into this project. Thank you April!
As such, today I am pleased to present a new book entitled Fundamental Doctrines which contains the teachings on the elementary principles of Christ. I will post the link to Amazon, so if anyone wants one, they are welcome to it.
That was the news, not big, or grand, but nevertheless news.
Tomorrow and Tuesday I’m on the road, so Lord willing I will be posting again Wednesday. Until then, I’m also adding a couple of the ‘Truth in a Nutshell’ teachings we’ve been filming. They are the first two of a ten part series discussing the first few verses of 2 Timothy 3 in an exegetical manner, and also how they correlate to these last days.
Please keep me in your prayers as I travel, and also pray the Lord reward April for her labors on this project.
The times ahead promise to be exciting for the children of God, but also traumatic for those of the world and the lukewarm among us. More than ever we must pray for each other, feel for each other, and keep our gaze firmly affixed upon Christ Jesus our Lord, our King, our Savior and our Great High Priest.
This Saturday, in fact, tomorrow will be my last scheduled speaking engagement before I head back to Romania. Time flies, we get older, but some things never change, and being with the ones you love during the holidays is one of those things.
Apropos of nothing, I got a real hardy laugh tonight when I read that our esteemed Secretary of State vowed to thwart the new Soviet Union. Ah, yes, in case you haven't heard, there is a move to re-Sovietise the region. I'm sure if you look for the article online you will no doubt find it. Good times.
I also have some news I will share with you on Sunday, nothing earth shattering, but something I thought you ought to know.
Anyway, this is where I will be speaking tomorrow:
Saturday, December 8, 2012 7:00 PM
Erickson Community Center
1401 11th Ave N.
Clinton Iowa 52732
When God removes His peace, no matter how much men might try to manufacture it or otherwise politic their way to peaceful resolutions, it becomes impossible. Wherever one might look nowadays, there seems to be unrest, threats of wars, rumors of wars, and yes, even outright war.
It’s surreal to see everything Jesus said would usher in the beginning of sorrows coming to pass, yet many still refuse to remove their heads from the sand and acknowledge the time and season they are living in. The many I am referring to are not the Godless, or those who do not profess Jesus, but those who warm pews every Sunday, and bring string beans to the potluck, and even step in for the senior usher when he’s off hunting or at home with the flu.
I understand it. Believe me I do. To acknowledge that we are living in the last days would be to irrevocably shatter the illusion and expose the lies we’ve been telling ourselves for years on end. To acknowledge that we are living in the last days is to come to terms with the reality that every second is now a precious commodity, for if Jesus was right concerning the events of these last days then He was likewise right about night soon descending when no man will be able to work.
Cynical as the following may sound to some, I think what’s scaring a vast majority most about the times we’re living in is that they won’t be able to put off repentance for much longer.
There comes a time in every individual’s life wherein they have to make a choice and stop straddling the fence. Although some have made a career out of fence straddling, and others more enterprising folks a doctrine and a belief system, we can get away with the childish foolishness only as long as a semblance of civility still abounds. At a certain point reality becomes so vivid that ignoring it becomes impossible, and men are forced to make a choice.
It has become nigh undeniable that the inmates are running the asylum, and with each victory they become more emboldened in their attempt to stifle the followers of Christ, and do away with the very memory of Him.
As I’ve said before, one of the worst things God can do to a nation and a people, is to leave them to the desires of their heart, and allow them to pursue their appetites unhindered. Though the world waxes worse, we as children of God are neither absolved nor exonerated of the responsibility to be lights in the darkness, and faithful proclaimers of truth. Yes, with each passing day the chance that we will suffer persecution because we stand for truth multiplies exponentially, but it’s something the Bible warns of, and something we ought to have made our peace with long ago.
If there is a silver lining in all the global turmoil, upheaval, war, uncertainty and violence, is that men will have to choose a side, and stand. The halfhearted, the uncommitted, the duplicitous or the lukewarm will fall by the wayside like so much chaff, and what remains when the fire has come and gone, is the pure and spotless bride that stands ready to shine gloriously, and do great exploits through Christ, and in His authority.
The world is about to get much darker, and we will need the peace only Christ can grant more than ever before. In Christ there is no fear for tomorrow, there is no uncertainty or distress, because we are in Him, sheltered, kept, and protected from all harm.
John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
Prayers of the Old Testament The Prayer of Solomon continued...
Often times God need speak only a handful of words to turn our entire world upside down. The words He spoke to Solomon in his dream seemed simple and straightforward enough, but what they implied was unimaginable in scope.
God did not qualify his offer to Solomon. He did not say Solomon could not request something over a certain amount, or something not easily attainable, God left the offer wide open wherein Solomon could have asked for absolutely anything.
‘Ask! What shall I give you?’
I have often wondered if I would be as wise as Solomon in what I would ask for if God were to give me the same opportunity.
What would you ask for if you could ask for anything, and know you would receive it?
It is a far more complicated question than it would first appear. For many it would depend on the precise moment the offer was made, for others whether their pride was overriding their sense of reason, for others still if their focus was on the material rather than on the spiritual.
It’s easy to say we would choose a wise and understanding heart as did Solomon, but saying a thing and following through to the point of actually doing the thing we said we’d do are very different animals. It all goes back to the heart, and whether or not the heart is surrendered to the plan and will of God. When God makes an individual an offer such as this, they will ask for what their heart desires most, because the offer of ‘anything’ amplifies the desire of one’s inward parts. We know Solomon desired wisdom, or a wise and understanding heart, because it is what he asked of God when he could have asked for anything.
Another aspect of this exchange impossible to ignore is the generosity God exhibited toward Solomon.
There were no stipulations; there was no maximum price set by God. Anything Solomon would have asked of Him, he would have received.
Throughout the Scriptures God proves His generosity, and we see His tendency to exceed man’s petitions, prayers, or expectations. Ask in faith, and you will see the generosity of God manifest in your life. Ask in faith, ask according to His will, do those things which are pleasing in His sight, and whatever you ask, you will receive from His hand.
1 John 5:14, “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”
Many people ask of God, they do so repeatedly, fervently and passionately, yet they do not ask according to His will. The key to this verse is that we ask according to God’s will and not our own. God’s desire for our life is oftentimes very different than our desire for our lives.
If we are honest with ourselves, most all of us would desire a life of ease, of comfort, of accomplishment, of success both materially and relationally, because it’s human nature to want the best for itself.
When our prayers include anything other than for God to be glorified through our lives, whether through our joy or our sorrow, our abundance or our lack, our sadness or our gladness, we are not asking according to His will, but according to our will.
For most professing Christians today, the glory of God is irrelevant as long as their physical needs are met, and the trinkets and toys they desire are given them. As vehemently as some might disagree with me on this point, the evidence supports my supposition. Men who teach other men avarice, selfishness and greed are themselves rewarded by those they teach with the material excesses they instruct their followers to covet.
Men with divided loyalties and corrupt hearts seek teachers who will not challenge their lifestyle and encourage them to continue pursuing the things of this earth, and the hireling shepherds exploit their niche to its fullest by continually focusing on this one topic.
Our confidence comes from knowing that we have asked according to the will of God. It does not come about due to our own perceived righteousness, nor does it come about because we think we’ve racked up enough good deeds to deserve an answer from God.
I’ve met individuals who were certain God would answer a wholly selfish and hedonistic prayer, just because in their mind they’d done enough good to warrant an answer. We’re not trying to cash in frequent flier miles here; we’re coming before the God of all creation and petitioning Him for something. Whatever that something might be, we will never have been able to deserve or earn an answer from God, but in His goodness, His love, and His mercy, He does hear us and answer us when we pray according to His will.
1 John 3:22, “And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.”
When we keep God’s commandments, when we do those things that are pleasing in His sight, we can approach God with confidence, and come before Him with assurance.
There is an implied reciprocity in this passage, one we would do well to heed and understand. It is because we keep God’s commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight that we receive from Him whatever we ask.
When we are obedient toward God and when we are wholly surrendered to His will for our lives, when we pray, we know God will answer. We have access to God as His beloved, as His children, and not as ones who are illegitimate or whom the Father does not recognize as His own.
One of the many benefits of living out our faith, of pursuing righteousness and holiness unto God, is that we are able to come before Him fully assured that He hears us when we pray to Him. It is when we allow duplicity to worm its way into our hearts that our prayers are uncertain and there is no confidence in our petitions toward God.
Prayers of the Old Testament The Prayer of Solomon
There are many worthwhile conclusions one can draw from the fact that the wisest man on earth was also a man of prayer. Wisdom and prayer, it seems, go hand in hand, and when one has attained wisdom, they tend to spend more time in the presence of God than those who continue to prefer ignorance.
For some unexplained reason, especially in our modern age, the enemy has hijacked the narrative and convinced a great majority that only fools still take the time to commune and fellowship with God, or even believe in Him. Yet here we have arguably the wisest man to have ever walked the earth, and in researching his life we realize he was a man of profound prayer.
Like his father before him, Solomon was an imperfect man. The son of King David and Bathsheba, as controversial as his father if not more so, Solomon took up the mantle of leadership after the death of David, inheriting a kingdom that was stable and well managed.
Because none of the surrounding nations were strong enough to cause Solomon problems, he begins to exert and extend his control reaching as far as Egypt on one end, and the Euphrates River on the other.
Due to the wisdom God granted him, Solomon was a good king, one who was able to perceive Israel’s strategic position, and exploit it in the trading of goods, becoming a land bridge between Egypt and Asia.
Solomon had wisdom, glory, wealth, and the necessary vision to build the temple of worship his father David had dreamed of.
Even with all the wisdom God had granted him, and the potential instilled in him, Solomon strayed from the path of righteousness, compromising his convictions in order to appease his wives, coming to the point of worshiping the foreign deities his wives had brought with them.
As is often the case, a good beginning does not ensure a good end, nor does being born into privilege ensure that one’s heart will be perpetually thankful for all that they’ve been given.
Taking into account Solomon’s own words in the book of Ecclesiastes we also realize there was a time of repentance in his life, a time of turning, and of coming before God broken and contrite asking for forgiveness.
Although not many of Solomon’s prayers have been recorded, there are a handful of prayers he prayed worth discussing and meditating upon. Of them all, a prayer he prayed in his youth, long before he built the temple, is one that stands out as most honest and most compelling of all.
It is this prayer we will be considering as we delve into the prayer life of Solomon, one of the most influential kings of Israel, a man tasked with building the temple, a man of untold wisdom, yet also a man with a weakness, which led to his separation from the truth of God’s way.
One event that inexorably marked the life of Solomon was when the Lord appeared to him in a dream and spoke to him. This was the pivotal moment in Solomon’s life.
It has been Biblically established that God speaks to His servants through dreams whenever He might so choose. It is one of the many ways in which He communicates with mankind. Although employing dreams as a means of communication seems to have been more common during the olden days when we did not have the Word of God, it still happens to this day.
Job 33:14-16, “For God may speak in one way, or in another, yet man does not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men, while slumbering on their beds, then He opens the ears of men and seals their instruction.”
It is not something man can manufacture or make happen, nor is it something we can demand of God. It is God who chooses the means by which He communicates to us. Our duty is to know His voice, and obey when He speaks.
1 Kings 3:5, “At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, ‘Ask! What shall I give you?’”
It is not known if God had communicated with Solomon before Gibeon. Was this Solomon’s first experience with seeing the Lord in a dream and hearing Him speak, or was he accustomed to something so awe inspiring? Was this the first time God had tried to communicate with him, or was it just the first time Solomon acknowledged the presence and voice of God?
All these are questions that stimulate the intellect, but for which we will never have a definitive answer while on this earth.
What is known is that Solomon went to the tabernacle of meeting at Gibeon, and brought a great sacrifice before God, and God received it.
2 Chronicles 1:1-3, “Now Solomon the son of David was strengthened in his kingdom, and the Lord his God was with him and exalted him exceedingly. And Solomon spoke to all Israel, to the captains of thousands and of hundreds, to the judges, and to every leader in all Israel, the heads of the fathers’ houses. Then Solomon, and all the congregation with him, went to the high place that was at Gibeon; for the tabernacle of meeting with God was there which Moses the servant of the Lord had made in the wilderness.”
The people gathered before the tabernacle of meeting and sought the Lord. They were not there for the food, the prizes, the raffles, the giveaways, they were there to encounter God, to be in His presence and glory in Him. It was here that Solomon brought a great sacrifice to God consisting of a thousand burnt offerings and that very night the Lord appeared to him in a dream and spoke to him.
Your hands are clean but are they also full? What will you stand before Him with on that day? Will your self-righteousness suffice? Will you be able to stand before He who knows all and justify inaction and indifference by insisting it was all to keep your hands clean?
It is not enough not to have blood on your hands! Your hands must not be empty when you stand before Him.
What have you done with your life? What have you done with your gifts? What have you done knowing that the world is dying, the end is nigh, and that soon no man will be able to work?
There is an urgency and a sadness in me giving way to travail.
I sit and watch how the slumber of the church is birthing clerics with stranger and more aberrant doctrines than the last generation, and how the masses flock, anxious to hear about an even wider path than the one they had been on.
Some sheep wander, others trade eternity for worthless baubles, others still are bought and sold to pacify the greed of their hireling shepherds, and no one weeps, and no one toils, and everyone does what they’ve been told they ought to be doing, which is seeking to live their best lives now.
The older I get the more fearful I become of standing before my God not with bloody hands, for that I have always strived to be innocent of, but with empty hands, having nothing to offer Him, nothing to show for what He has given.
The more I read the parable of the talents, the more convinced I become that not only does God expect His initial investment returned to Him, but a return on His investment as well.
Call it what you want, call it works if you must. I’m tired of having the same tired conversations about works being anathema in the life of a believer, when the word of God clearly tells faith without works is dead.
I don’t know who this is for, but whoever you are, just know that grace is not an acceptable excuse for slothfulness, indifference, laziness, fear, or absence of love for the lost.
All men will stand before God on that great day, some with bloody hands, some with clean but empty hands, and some with clean hands overflowing with the return on God’s investment.
I pray daily, and each day more earnestly that my hands will not be empty when I behold Him in all His glory, and I labor diligently towards this end with ever increasing urgency.
Yes, I know we were supposed to start on Solomon’s prayer life today, but try as I might these thoughts kept distracting me until I found no way of ignoring them.
I don’t know who these words were for, perhaps just for myself, but there they be nevertheless.
It is because of buyer’s remorse that more and more stores are implementing no return policies. Sure, that hot pink dress shirt two sizes two small seemed like a great idea in the store, but once you got home and realized you’d have to lose fifteen pounds just to snap the buttons shut, the allure of it wore off rather quickly.
Some establishments do offer in store credit for returned items, but what if there was nothing else in that particular store you wanted to buy? What if you finally realized that though the idea of being forever twenty-one is a mighty tempting one, shopping at a place with the same name just didn’t have the same appeal?
It matters not in the least to them if you’ve already purchased the item whether you’re having buyer’s remorse, or no longer want to be in possession of the item you purchased. You own it! It’s yours, and there are no returns, no exchanges, and all sales are final.
By its very definition an epiphany cannot be planned or otherwise foreseen. Epiphanies come when they will, turning your world upside down in an explosion of realization and comprehension.
Although epiphanies cannot be planned for, they can be forced upon certain individuals by external events and circumstances. Recently I was invited to a pastor’s conference, and since I had a couple days of downtime, I decided to attend. As men of varying ages and nationalities introduced themselves, I had the sudden epiphany that I was the dumbest person in the room. Every man I met, introduced himself as some sort of doctor, whether a doctor of theology, or a doctor of ministry, an apostle, or a bishop, and all I could do was smile and say, ‘I’m Mike, yeah, just Mike.’
So what am I babbling on about?
Simply this: It is inevitable that more and more individuals will experience moments of epiphany in this country. Because of their moments of epiphany, they will want to go back and undo what they’ve done. The more they try and fail, the more they hear ‘no returns, no exchanges, no exceptions,’ the more their bitterness will amplify. The more amplified the bitterness of an ever growing populace, the more chance there is of a spark setting off the powder keg.
The one thing the engineers of the movement to socialize America did not take into account is that those who embraced socialism and communism in other lands were already beaten, and stripped of their individuality before the system was instituted.
Granted, they’ve succeeded in assimilating and brainwashing the young generation, but there are still those of the older generations who remember what once was, and how sweet true freedom tastes, who will not acquiesce and who will not go gently into that good night.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.
P.S. To Fiona B, Sorry about that. Please send me your name and address, and I will send you a paperback copy of the book. The e-book is getting fixed by the folks who broke it as we speak. God bless.
This weekend we're back on the road, and once again, we're in Indiana.
Sunday, December 2, 2012 10:00 AM
Village Bible Church
Greenwood Community Center
100 Surina Way
Greenwood Indiana 46143
For more information contact: Jeff Sievertson 812-447-0940
Lord willing, we will continue our series on prayer beginning this Sunday, with a study on the prayer life of Solomon. Please keep us in your prayers as we travel, adn if you are able to attend, we'd love to see you at the meetings. God bless.
Atheists on the left, Islamists on the right, here we are, stuck in the middle with God. If politics and adversity make strange bedfellows, I figure so does hatred. I’ve never felt more like a piñata in my entire life, and I was the kid that got beat up throughout Junior High for wearing pressed slacks to school.
Forces that could not be any further apart in their ideology or belief structure have found common ground in their hatred for Christians and Christianity. As those who still hold to the truth of Christ being the singular way, the singular truth, and the singular life, we are stuck in the middle, braced on both sides, and oddly silent as we are being squeezed with increasing pressure and growing indifference as to whether or not what is being said concerning our faith is hurtful, condescending, or outright untrue.
There are two segments of the population today concerning which you can still say the most awfully atrocious things, and get away with it without as much as a slap on the wrist.
It’s open season on Christians and overweight folk, and if one happens to be both a Christian and overweight like yours truly, well, then it’s a twofer.
What I find pitiable to the utmost is that allot of the people stuck in the middle, being buffeted on all sides by those whose hatred for Jesus is evident upon their countenance, still won’t muster the wherewithal to break ties with sin, repent, and truly get to know Jesus and the power of godliness as they ought.
They bear the name, they bear the title, but because of their duplicity, compromise and hypocrisy, they bear no power or authority.
As long as men behind pulpits continue to teach that compromise is an acceptable alternative to true and undefiled worship, as long as we are distracted from true commitment by the temporal and mundane, we will wallow in this pseudo-faith that neither sanctifies us nor matures us in Christ.
The one problem with the in-between is that the in-between does not exist. We can no more have one foot in the world and one foot in the church than we could serve both God and Mammon simultaneously.
Men either love God and hate the world, or they love the world and hate God. To pretend otherwise is to deceive ourselves into believing extra biblical heresies. Palatable as they might be, they are still heresies, and they are still extra biblical.
As I was sitting in our studio today getting ready to film some teachings, I couldn’t remember a time when I was more exhausted even though I’d done absolutely nothing to warrant the exhaustion.
As I began to think about it afterwards, I called some friends whom I know as men of God, and in conversation asked if they were feeling anything close to what I had been feeling. To the last they said they had been for the past few weeks, and the only conclusion we could come up with was that we are feeling in the spiritual what is soon to manifest in the physical.
I fear that while we’re waiting for transfers of wealth from the wicked to the righteous, the enemy is advancing stealthily and positioning himself whereby conflict between his acolytes and the children of God will become inevitable. There’s a marked difference between a big check and shackles, and depending on which you are expecting, you might be in for a rude awakening.
For many years now there has been a misconception about communists, communism, or the more palatable socialism. Although it is widely believed that communists hate God, what they hate is the hope God gives.
What many fail to understand is that the communists of old, those who ruled my homeland for forty-five years, were by and large atheists, meaning they did not believe in the existence of any god, be it the Christian God, or the Hindu god.
Since one cannot hate what one does not believe exists, what the communists of old hated with a passion beyond human reason or understanding, was the hope God poured into the hearts of the faithful because it was a hope not tethered to the system or the government.
In order to rule a people completely, the aforementioned people must hope in nothing else but you. This is the underpinning of socialist thinking, and why everything that is a source of hope other than the motherland must be extinguished and utterly ground into the earth.
Since there is none who gives more hope than Christ, since there is no philosophy or religion that can match the unending stream of hope that is Jesus, in order for the system to reign supreme, they must do away with Christ, the memory of Him, and the hope He offers those who receive Him.
If you cling to your Bible, you are the enemy. If you place your hope in something other than the system, you are the enemy. If you will not compromise your character, morals, or beliefs for the sake of the scraps the system offers, you are the enemy, and the way you deal with an enemy within your own borders is to marginalize, demonize, and ultimately criminalize them and their activities.
To some, this might seem far-flung. A pessimistic diatribe of what could someday be, but those who have eyes to see realize this is not something afar off, something our children’s children might one day have to deal with, but is very near, and will find many unaware, unprepared, and willing to capitulate to the pressure.
We can either live with the illusion of a better tomorrow, or prepare for the reality of a somber one. As all choice is followed by consequence, depending on how we perceive our existence, the times we are living in, and the path upon which our nation is journeying, we will either determine, and purpose in our hearts to cling to Jesus no matter the cost, or be swept away by the wave of compromise.
So why talk about this? Why even contemplate the future if it seems so bleak and discomforting? Why not just take it as it comes and give it no further thought?
Because, if we do not prepare beforehand to be steadfast and unyielding, when the day comes we will find a justifiable excuse to bend, and betray our most sacred of convictions. If caught unaware and unprepared men find ways of justifying the most egregious of behaviors and this is what the enemy is counting on.
We go from one distraction to another, from one date to another, all the while putting off the most essential of things, such as being spiritually prepared for the worst of outcomes, while hoping and praying for the best of outcomes.
In the least, having read these words today, you will not be surprised when some time in the not too distant future the rhetoric against Christ, Christians, and Christianity will be ratcheted up to new heights, and the idea that doing away with a handful of undesirables for the greater good of humanity will become a mainstay and staple of those whose agenda is total dependency upon a system already showing signs of unsustainability.
Tomorrow, Lord willing, I will post a new article entitled 'You Are The Enemy' a lighthearted read for one and all. I pray you all had a happy Thanksgiving near those you love, and that your thankfulness for God's many blessings was well expressed.
I was young when I left Romania. Not even ten, not really understanding what was happening, I was plucked from a life I knew and tossed into a world I could not begin to understand until much later in life.
Seeing what this nation is becoming, seeing the steps it is taking toward embracing what so many risked life and limb to escape, lately I’ve been thinking about my early years, trying hard to remember things I thought long forgotten, and piece together some sort of explanation as to why a nation would willingly capitulate its hard fought and hard won freedoms to embrace a system proven time and again to be a failure on a grand scale.
Make no mistake, we are swiftly nearing what can only be defined as socialism, and though some might revel in the idea of it, the reality of the thing is sinister, grisly, hopeless, and joyless.
Some things sound far better on paper than they are when implemented.
As I said, I write these lines as one who has lived through what America is becoming, and one whose parents and grandparents were permanently scarred by a system which willingly provides for its citizenry’s survival, but demands total submission, obedience and subservience in return.
Truth is, as long as you are willing to forfeit your individuality, dignity, faith, morals, and convictions, life in a socialist system is close to bearable.
One of the most profound things I learned even as a child is that most men fall in line long before being threatened with anything as untoward as violence. Neighbors, friends, and even folks we thought of as brothers or sisters, all merrily reported any ‘suspicious activity’ even if those performing said activities were their own spouses, children or parents.
If you are willing to conform, and don’t mind living in a police state, then the next couple years shouldn’t be all that traumatic for you.
The scales are tipped definitively when more than half the population of any given nation comes to realize that whether earned, taken, or freely received bread tastes the same and fills the belly just as readily.
‘Dignity doesn’t smooth over callouses or heal blisters, so why work when you don’t have to?’
Once we stopped teaching conviction, once we stopped teaching that one’s principles mattered, once we began to encourage one and all to take the easy way out rather than make a principled stand, our course was inevitable and our destination a foregone conclusion.
Freedom is like that longsuffering and faithful friend we take for granted, dismiss, and ignore until one day we come to realize they are no more. It is only when freedom is stripped from a nation that men begin to long for it once more, but by then it is too late, and the monster we thought we could control by force of will alone at long last bares its fangs and reveals its true self.
Nothing in this world is free but the love of God. Everything else has strings attached whether we see them at present or not.
There is one other thing I learned while under communism: that a man’s true self is revealed and his true character uncovered most readily during times of distress and turmoil. The few who stood, stood to their honor. The many who fell, fell to their shame.
Stand or fall, your true self will come to light in the coming days.
1 Corinthians 10:11-13, “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the ages of have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”
Psalm 107:1-9, “Oh, give thanks to the Lord for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy, and gathered out of the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and form the south. They wandered in the wilderness in a desolate way; they found no city to dwell in. Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them out of their distress. And He led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city for habitation. Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Prayers of the Old Testament The Prayer of David continued...
Possessing a steadfast spirit goes beyond having the boldness to stand one’s ground against the enemy. When we possess a steadfast spirit, we are not swayed by new winds of doctrine and teaching as so many seem to be, but rather, we stand on the rock that is Christ, unmoved, unshaken, unperturbed and undistracted by the countless voices attempting to lead us astray.
It is because so few possess steadfastness that so many go from one doctrine to another ever searching but never finding what they are searching for.
We have the word of God as the final authority in matters concerning the spiritual, and when we are steadfast we defer to the Bible rather than to our denominations, and remain on the narrow path of faith regardless of how many voices would attempt to beguile us to the contrary.
Rather than learn to be dependent upon the guidance, inspiration and urging of the Holy Spirit as David had, we are taught by men who ought to know better that our opinions, feelings and preferences supersede the Holy Spirit’s leadings, and as such He can readily be ignored and marginalized.
David understood the importance of having the Spirit of God ever present in his life. He understood the importance of walking led by the Spirit and prayed in earnest that God would not remove His Spirit from him.
Psalm 51:11-13, “Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me with Your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted to You.”
The presence of the Holy Spirit in his life was foremost on David’s mind and heart. He realized the one thing he could not live without, and so prayed that God would not take it from him. David knew he could live without his crown, his kingdom, his wealth, his accolades, his army and his reputation, but he could not live without the Holy Spirit, and so prayed this sobering prayer.
David also realizes what God desires of those who call themselves His children, and confirms the reality that bringing forth sacrifice would be a far easier task than walking in the will of God as He commands we do.
We can offer up tokens, we can offer up trinkets, we can offer up things men would prize and see as valuable, but as long as we do not offer up our hearts, as long as we do not offer up ourselves in our entirety, we fall short of doing what is pleasing in the sight of God.
I realize full well that those who would have your coin and your possessions far outnumber those who would have you surrender your heart to God, but the truth doesn’t always lie with the majority, nor does righteousness or wisdom for that matter.
Psalm 51:16-17, “For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart – these, O God, You will not despise.”
David had realized the futility of half measures when it came to the things of God. He realized that men of unclean hands bringing sacrifice before God was something He despised, but also that God would honor a broken spirit and a broken and contrite heart.
Imperfect as David might have been, he loved the Lord, he loved the house of the Lord, and he loved the way of the Lord. It is this burning love for God that must motivate us, drive us, and compel us to seek His will in all we do.
Although he had reached the heights of power, although there was not a man with more authority than him in the entire kingdom, David still humbled himself and acknowledged his need for God, His Holy Spirit, and his continued guidance.
Psalm 25:4-5, “Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation on You I wait all day.”
Pray for God’s revelation and you shall have it. Pray that He show you His ways, and He will. Pray that He teaches you His paths, and you will see Him illuminate the way, for He is a good and loving God whose desire is always a more sanctified you.
God’s promises remain ever true, and He promised that if we asked to be led in His truth and taught by Him, He would teach us and lead us.
Isaiah 30:21, “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it.’ Whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.”
As David’s knowledge of God grew his trust and dependence upon God grew in equal proportion. The more of God we come to know, the more we come to realize just how fragile, powerless and small we really are, and how great, omnipotent and all-encompassing our God is.
When we come to know God, we do not spend less time in His presence but more, we do not desire less of Him, but more. Knowledge of God only fuels a desire for more of Him in our lives, and eventually we come to that place as David did so long ago, where we realize absent His presence in our lives and hearts it will be impossible for us to breathe one more breath.
We have learned much from the prayer of David, and my hope is that we apply what we have learned to our daily time of devotion and fellowship in the presence of God.