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.
On this last day of 2017, Pastor Steve Shober shared the stories of Abram, Moses, Gideon and Peter, and how God intervened in their lives in miraculous, encouraging and merciful ways. When we are honest, we can recognize ourselves in each of the lives of these four men: disqualified, helpless, discouraged and hopeless. Yet that didn't stop the Lord from blessing, empowering, encouraging and restoring these men and that will not stop Him from showing up in our lives to be in our stories!
The book of Isaiah, written seven hundred years before Christ, has several prophetic passages that speak to the coming Messiah, including chapter 9, verses 2 through 7. Isaiah says the Messiah will bring light, gladness, and freedom from oppression; that the government—kingdom rulership—will rest on him. In this Christmas Eve message, Pastor Evan Brown adds that Jesus also came to do good, to bring healing, and to meet our deepest needs: the need for forgiveness.
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.
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.
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
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.
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.
This week we take a pause from Evan’s teaching series on the kings of Israel and Judah (1 & 2 Kings and 1 & 2 Chronicles), as Don Miller shared about 4 of the prophets that served many of those kings. God never spoke to Israel through the kings: He always used the prophets, HIs special messengers. Don shares snippets of Elijah's, Elisha's, Isaiah's and Jeremiah’s prophetic ministries. He explains the parallels of how God would speak though the Old Testament prophets to draw Israel into a right relationship with Him, and how the stories of these Old Testament prophets can paint a picture of God’s Kingdom in our lives today.
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.
Pastor Evan Brown continues in the series, “Conflict of the Kings.” In 1 King’s 13, King Jeroboam’s fear turns into stubbornness and pride. Although God was faithful and confirmed His word through a miraculous sign, Jeroboam went back to his manipulative ways. In 2 Chronicles 13, Jeroboam's large army was defeated by King Abijah's small army through God's intervention. Yet after the battle, Abijah failed to dismantle the golden calf, and he continued to usher God’s people into sin. From these passages, we learn that there is vulnerability in trusting in the Lord. And yet, we should not be fooled by the momentary success of a path that is not of God. How is God trying to get our attention? Are we creating a cloud of confusion around us, or a path of clarity? Are we manipulating people, or are we leading them in God’s way? Our influence, whether it is good or bad, has a significant affect on others.
Do you want to make more of a difference in other people’s lives? Speaking what is spiritual has the power to fundamentally alter things in your soul. But how do we know what is truly spiritual? Teaching from 1 Corinthians 14, our founding pastor, Daniel Brown, offers three simple tests: True prophecy is love-filled, encouraging and up-building; it gets under people and lifts them up. God’s word is not always sensational; it may seem like no big deal until you use it—and then it can have a big impact. And finally, any prophetic word will be revelational, and will be confirmed by Scripture.
Pride was the subject presented by Jeff Busma in today’s teaching. He took us to the root of pride by citing Bible verses that suggest this sin can be easily masked by not-so-obvious behaviors. In Lev 26: 3-4 God tells His people, “If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments, I will give you rain, the land shall yield its produce and the trees will bear fruit.” Lev 26:18-20 tells of God’s warning His people that should they disobey Him, He would punish them stating, “I will break the PRIDE of your power; I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze. All your efforts will be wasted.” It’s important to take the time to recognize potential roots of our pride. The ARROGANT church referred to in Rev 3:17 claimed to be in need of nothing. They failed to see their wretchedness. God responded by saying, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him and he with me.”
Pride’s job is to prevent us from seeing and accepting what the Lord has for us. Fear, anger, depression, self-pity can all have their roots in pride. Are we attempting to face life’s challenges on our own, thinking we know best, instead of giving it all to our Heavenly Father?
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.
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.
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.
When is passion a healthy part of our life, and when does it cause problems for us? Evan examines the original instruction giving for the kings of Israel and Solomon’s disregard for those instructions, resulting in Solomon’s amassing silver, gold, horses and wives for himself. Evan proposed three questions to help guide us in understanding the role and pursuit of resources in our lives today:
- What is the purpose of your resource: time and money, knowledge?
- What is the role of your resource in the mission God has given you?
- What is the priority pursuing those resources has in your life?
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.
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.