From Solomon to the exile, the Old Testament kings were in conflict—and not always with other nations. Their conflicts, like ours, were spiritual; they were torn between the gods of the nations around them and the God of Israel, between the convenience of worshiping in any high place and the discipline of worshiping in the Tabernacle as the Lord commanded. In this message, Pastor Evan Brown explores what the Bible has to say about the high places, and challenges us to look for and tear down the “high places” in our own lives.
Pastor Evan Brown continues in the series, “Conflict of the Kings.” God answered King Solomon’s prayer by giving him more than wisdom--God blessed him with riches and honor as well (1 Kings 3). But Solomon got off track when he disobeyed God’s instructions (Deut. 17-14-17). We learn from Solomon’s life that a good start is not always enough to finish well. We can give our hearts to God, yet we get off track if we do not know God’s word and listen to His instructions. Solomon warns us that if we live life apart from God, our lives will be meaningless, regardless of our intelligence, education, fulfilled goals, or wealth (Ecc. 1:2). God’s thoughts and plans for us are higher than our own. We can live a life full of true meaning as we grow in our relationship with God and listen to His instructions.
How is it that Solomon, who is known for his great God-given wisdom, struggled so much with passion? This conflict of his heart eventually led him away from God for part of his life, missing out on the satisfaction only God can give.
Discipleship is all about influencing the people around us one way or another. Solomon’s pagan wives led him down the dark path of idol worship, and because of his influence, the patterns of idolatry continued for generations. Many of the idols we struggle with today—patterns of thinking and behavior that are not life-giving—have been handed down from previous generations. The good news is, Jesus can help us choose not to pass these things down, and redeem the places in our hearts where the idols once reigned—if we will let Him.
From 1 Kings 14 and 2 Chronicles 12, Pastor Evan Brown reflects on King Rehoboam's response to the losses he experienced: firstly, the loss of the 10 tribes as a consequence of his father's (King Solomon's) unfaithfulness, and secondly, the loss caused by his own actions. This question stands throughout King Rehoboam's life as well as ours after experiencing loss: what are you going to do with what is left? Instead of committing his life and way to the Lord, King Rehoboam made the choice to preserve and defend what he had in his own strength with the illusion of control.
From 1 Kings 12:25-33, Pastor Evan Brown explains how King Jeroboam (King of Israel: 10 tribes) responded to his new position. Instead of trusting the Lord and the promises He made to him, Jeroboam quickly concluded that the people he was called to lead would kill him and go back to following King Rehoboam (King of Juda: 2 tribes). Jeroboam’s divination of his future led him to give fear and insecurity a place in his heart, and ultimately to manipulate the people of Israel into abandoning the true service and worship of the Lord.
Referencing 2 Chronicles 14-16, Evan created a baseline from the choices various old testament kings made in their day, then wove their stories into each of our lives today. For much of his reign King Asa of Judah, rather than follow the pattern of his father, King Abijah, sought God’s wisdom in all things, thereby opening the door for God to bless him and his people beyond expectation. God will know when we’ve chosen to break from inherited patterns and our hearts are truly seeking Him. We will then begin to fully experience the blessings of being in relationship with Him throughout the process as He draws us near to Him.
What can change your mind? What we learn this week from the life of Judah’s king Jehoshaphat is that even someone who seeks God can get side-tracked. Things were going well for Jehoshaphat, until he entered an alliance with Israel’s king Ahab, listened to some bad advice, and almost got himself killed. Later, when confronted by an overwhelming alliance of three armies, Jehoshaphat called a prophet for advice, sent the worship team to the front lines, and watched the armies fall on each other. Getting back—and staying—on track requires that you seek people who will speak the word of the Lord in ways that can radically change your mind.
Pastor Evan Brown continues in the series, “Conflict of the Kings,” through a look at the life of King Ahab in I Kings 16:29-34 and I Kings 20-22. Ahab was more evil than any other king that had reigned before him. Yet for a short season, Ahab listened to the Lord and followed His instruction. As a result, God miraculously helped Israel win the battle over its enemies. In the end though, Ahab turned away from God sinking into self-pity and anger. From Ahab’s life, we learn that as believers, we are to be people who leverage for good our position of influence in the world to bring glory to God. If we call upon the name of the Lord, He will answer us. God is not limited in our limited situations. When we follow the Lord, we can experience the excitement of bringing the extraordinary into our ordinary circumstances and bring God glory.
Human nature hasn’t changed since old testament times. As is true of us today, it was often two steps forward with God, three steps back for the OT kings we’re currently studying. Temptation was and is a stealthy, cunning enemy, at times requiring God to bring forth an extreme event into our lives to jolt us back to His center. Like Jehu, and as spirit filled children of God, we must be passionate and constantly diligent about allowing His direction to completely sever us from voices of influence that draw us temptingly close to self-destruction. This might require changing the way we are used to living.
Pastor Evan Brown continues the Conflict of Kings series, helping us through the unfamiliar names and relationships in a “made-for-TV-plot” of murder and intrigue from 2 Chronicles 22-24. Evan explains how yet another king, Jehoash started out following the Lord, yet later in life Jehoash fell away, after his Godly mentor Jehoiada, had passed away. Evan emphasized that while mentors are important in our life, we need to be personally anchored to, and actively following the Lord. We can’t truly prosper (be satisfied) in our life, when not following the words of the Lord, as the story of King Jehoash illustrates.
The good news in this Christmas season is that God loves you, wants to be with you, and wants you to prosper, which is why He sent His Son Jesus.
Pastor Evan Brown offers a seasonal word of instruction for our church as he continues in the series, “Conflict of the Kings,” through a look at Colossians 1:9-11, I Tim. 4:16, and 2 Chronicles 25. God seeks to use us to do His work as we become long distance runners through small steps of obedience. There may be a cost for our obedience, and sometimes we are called to abandon our own plans. Our pride will keep us from hearing from God, submitting to counsel, and attaining long-term endurance and obedience. However, our long-term endurance will ultimately lead to great joy.
Pastor Evan demonstrated how we can learn much from the multi-generational ups and downs of the old testament kings. Just as many of the same temptations and choices of king-fathers re-appeared in their king-sons, so too can we look to our family history to recognize generational bondages we may be facing. Although the kings chose not to seek God’s wisdom, missing out on much of God’s blessing and setting a low bar for the following kings to pursue, we, not by our own steam but with active engagement with God, can break the chains of our inherited bondages.
We are each responsible for our walk with God and will influence those around us…pay it forward…by living within or without God’s guidelines. By avoiding ungodly patterns, we also avoid refusing the wealth He has given us, ending up empty and poor.
Our creator designed us. It breaks His heart to witness His beautifully wrought design rejected by those of us who think we can do a better job at shaping our own lives. Where is God’s altar within my heart?
Hoshea (in 2 Kings 19) was the last king of Israel, doing evil in the sight of the Lord by making alliances with the Assyrians and the Egyptians. Pastor Evan Brown draws out application for us from this rich story, on how we can be tempted to run back to the very things we have been freed from, hoping this time will be different, instead of running to the Lord. Gods plan for Israel was that they would influence the surrounding nations and point the way to the one true God. Instead, Israel adopted the surrounding nations' gods. In this message, Evan asks ‘Are you influencing others or are they influencing you?’, and offers a litmus test for us to help answer that question.
The story of King Hezekiah of Judah is the story of the Father heart of God, who wants to see His kids again. When Hezekiah became king, he had the priests and Levites remove all the objects of idol worship from the Temple, so they could resume sacrificing to the Lord in the ways Moses commanded. He scheduled a Passover celebration, and invited not only all of Judah, but all of Israel as well, to return to the Lord. What we can draw from this for our own lives, says Pastor Evan Brown, is that it is never too late to clean out our own hearts and begin again, to prepare ourselves for the work God has for us to do.
Through the life of King Hezekiah (2 Kings 18 and 2 Chronicles 32), Pastor Evan Brown teaches how to recognize the tactics of our spiritual enemy, Satan who is the accuser of our soul. Our enemy seeks to steal, kill, and destroy the life that God wants to give us. God has the power to rescue and restore us in whatever trouble may come our way. Yet even when we get off-track, God calls us back to Him. If we return to God and take root in His ways, He has the power to heal, bless, and restore us to a life that bears great fruit no matter what our circumstances.
Pastor Evan Brown teaches that by aligning ourselves with God, like King Hezekiah in 2 Kings:19, lives that have gone astray can be set straight again. When our spiritual enemy comes against us, this can trigger a falling away from the things of God. We can easily be discouraged not trusting that God is still paying attention. When life is going smoothly, things can happen to derail us, causing confusion and doubt. When Hezekiah experienced this, he cried out to God pleading for God’s rescue. God’s reply was, “Because you have prayed, I have heard you.” (2 Kings:20). Prayer as our go-to pattern, when we’re tempted to try to work things out on our own, should produce an ease of faith for times when difficulties arise again. We can look back on how God demonstrated His presence in ways we couldn’t have imagined at the time. The importance and power of our own prayers as well as those of others to whom we entrust our vulnerabilities, is incalculable.
The enemy of our soul can want us to believe we have gone one step too far, to be used, or to be blessed by God. In this message Evan shares about King Manasseh in 2 Chronicles 33 and his grandson King Josiah in 34. Through their stories Evan shares two uncommon and not often talked about pathways we can utilize to lay hold of more of what God has for us: humility and serving.