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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 25

Prayers of Confession continued...

Men love to hear soothing things. Men love to have their ears tickled. Because we are predisposed to loving those who would flatter us, and hating those who would tell us the truth, even those commissioned with preaching the gospel, those commissioned with declaring the whole counsel of God, hesitate, and talk themselves into believing that half-truths and the partial counsel of God, is better than no truth and no counsel at all.

Thankfully there are still those who will not compromise truth, just as there have always been, who see being maligned, ridiculed, ostracized and hated as part and parcel of their calling. When God calls us to the high calling of ministry, He never promises us fame, fortune, adoring fans or grateful audiences who will stand and cheer once we’ve delivered the message from the Lord. What we are promised however, is that the world will hate us because it hated our Master, and that we will be persecuted for His name’s sake. The flesh hates being challenged or called out, and it reacts violently every time, and without fail.

One day, after three years had passed without war between Syria and Israel, the king of Judah decides to go visit his counterpart in Israel. Two kings, both men of power and prestige sit together and begin plotting how they might take Ramoth in Gilead away from the king of Syria.

After concluding that this was the opportune time to strike, and establishing a partnership of sorts wherein the king of Judah would align his forces with the king of Israel to war against the Syrians, Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah asked that they inquire for the word of the Lord concerning their plans.

Quick to placate his newfound ally, the king of Israel gathers the prophets together, and asks them whether or not they should go to war against Ramoth Gilead. Keep in mind that the prophets the king of Israel gathered together were not just a handful of old men whose better days were behind them. They numbered four hundred, all assumingly prophetically gifted since they were counted among the prophets.

As one, all four hundred of the men the king had gathered said, ‘go up, for the Lord will deliver it into the hand of the king.’

Perhaps they didn’t take time to pray, perhaps there was something in their look or mannerism, but whatever it was, it caught Jehoshaphat’s eye, and though four hundred men had said, go to war, the Lord will deliver Ramoth Gilead into your hand, he still had his doubts.

1 Kings 22:7, “And Jehoshaphat said, ‘Is there not still a prophet of the Lord here, that we may inquire of Him?”

By his question, we realize Jehoshaphat did not believe the Lord had spoken through the four hundred men. He had not wanted to seek out another prophet to inquire of the man, but rather to inquire of God.

Sometimes you just know when a word doesn’t sound right. Although the words might be flattering, and the promises enticing, although the man or men in question tell you what you wanted to hear in the first place, something just feels off. This was the case with Jehoshaphat whose ears had heard that the plans he had ironed out with the king of Israel would come to fruition, yet inquired if there was still not another prophet of the Lord.

1 Kings 22:8, “So the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, ‘there is still one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may inquire of the Lord; but I hate him, because he does not prophecy good concerning me, but evil.’ And Jehoshaphat said, ‘let not the king say such things!’”

So why did the king of Israel hate Micaiah the son of Imlah? Was it because he prophesied falsely? Was it because the words he prophecies did not come to pass? Was it because he had been wrong before? The king of Israel hated Micaiah because he did not prophecy good things concerning him. The king never goes into detail here, he never says that the evil Micaiah had prophesied against him wasn’t accurate or true; he just knew he hated the man because he never prophesied good concerning him.

So what’s the point of this detour into the lives of the kings of Judah and Israel?

The point is that often times God sends servants to warn us, to exhort us, and yes, even to rebuke us, and rather than hate them for the message they bring, because they did not prophecy good concerning us, we ought to fall on our knees before God in repentance for that which we know we are at fault for.

In order to bring us to a place of brokenness, confession and repentance God uses the word, the Holy Spirit, but He also uses His servants. God sends messengers across our path, or directly to us, with messages and words from Him, and often times our reactions are as the reactions of the king of Israel.

We don’t stop to think if the word we received was true, if what the individual said was exactly as our life is, we let our anger flare, we let the flesh overtake reason, and begin to hate the individual, who only did as God commanded them to do.

In love God reaches out to us in all manner of ways, trying to get our attention, trying to warn us, trying to keep us from going over the edge of the precipice, and far too often we find reasons not to receive the warnings He sends. Whether because the word was not delivered as lovingly as we would have liked, or seemed judgmental to our ears, or it just wasn’t good concerning us, we find reasons to dismiss it, and feel justified in doing so.

When God warns us, whether through His word, the Holy Spirit, or a chosen vessel, the only acceptable course of action we can undertake, is to come before Him in humility, confess, and repent.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

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