What the conscience of Ahab should say to our conscience

It may sound weird to some people – but Ahab had a conscience!

Ahab was narcissistic, deceptive and capable of corrupting the moral-fiber of Israel in the most serious way (1 Kings 21:25-26), but Ahab still knew the difference between right and wrong, and when Elijah revealed the heavy toll of divine judgment his entire family would face, he was actually cut to the heart … in a good way (1 Kings 21:27-29).

Although Ahab referred to Elijah as his enemy on more than one occasion, Elijah was the only true friend Ahab had!

Elijah never threatened the king himself. He could have done so upon Mt. Carmel but he did not. Elijah actually rejoiced at the thought of Israel, including Ahab, repenting of their sins and turning away from idolatry. So how could Ahab consider Elijah his enemy? It was because of the wounds that Elijah inflicted upon his conscience.

Although Ahab may have never admitted it, the “wounds” of Elijah to Ahab’s conscience were far more beneficial than any of the “kisses” offered by the false prophets (Proverbs 27:6). Ultimately, it was Elijah’s faithfulness to truth and Ahab’s unfaithfulness to his conscience that had soured the two’s relationship (Galatians 4:16, John 3:19-21). This was also true of Micaiah (1 Kings 22:5-8, 13-18).

The downfall of Ahab, Jezebel notwithstanding, was his unwillingness to do (or stop doing) what his conscience was telling him to do – and that was listen to what was right.

The lesson for us is clear, when our conscience tells us we’re wrong, and it is backed up by the word of God, we would do well to listen before we start to blame what it right. Because such a mentality can make it extremely difficult to ever admit that the fault lies with us and not with the message or the messenger!

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12 NKJV)

#ahab, #conscience, #learning-from-the-mistakes-of-others

When we find ourselves in a hole we need to quit digging!

You’ve no doubt read about the many times over the children of Israel made things worse on themselves, but what about the time the children of Ammon kept digging their own grave?

It happened when Nahash, king of the Ammonites, had passed away, and, according to 2 Samuel 10:1-2, the word reached the ears and heart of David causing him to send his condolences to the Ammonite royal family:

It happened after this that the king of the people of Ammon died, and Hanun his son reigned in his place. Then David said, “I will show kindness to Hanun the son of Nahash, as his father showed kindness to me.” So David sent by the hand of his servants to comfort him concerning his father. And David’s servants came into the land of the people of Ammon.

The trouble begins when Hanun’s advisers convinces him that David’s act of condolence was only a ruse of espionage. Thus David’s servants were ungratefully sent home with a lot less luggage to their name – half of their beard and the bottom-half of their robes to be more specific!

Now you might think the children of Ammon would’ve had an advisor somewhere amongst the king’s “cabinet” smart enough to know about the genuineness of  David’s and Nahash’s relationship and how foolish the nation had treated David’s servants, but such was not the case. As a matter of fact, according to 2 Samuel 10:6, the children of Ammon kept digging:

  • “When the Ammonites realized that David was disgusted with them, they sent and hired 20,000 foot soldiers from Aram Beth Rehob and Aram Zobah, in addition to 1,000 men from the king of Maacah and 12,000 men from Ish-tob.” (NET)
  • “And when the children of Ammon saw that they were become odious to David, the children of Ammon sent and hired the Syrians of Beth-rehob, and the Syrians of Zobah, twenty thousand footmen, and the king of Maacah with a thousand men, and the men of Tob twelve thousand men.” (ASV)
  • “And when the children of Ammon saw that they stank before David, the children of Ammon sent and hired the Syrians of Bethrehob, and the Syrians of Zoba, twenty thousand footmen, and of king Maacah a thousand men, and of Ishtob twelve thousand men.” (KJV)
  • “And when the children of Ammon saw that they had made themselves hated by David, they sent to the Aramaeans of Beth-rehob and Zobah, and got for payment twenty thousand footmen, and they got from the king of Maacah a thousand men, and from Tob twelve thousand.” (BBE)

When it comes to the reaction of David’s nose as he stood downwind of Ammon, I think the KJV hits the nail on the head as far as the word-for-word translation is concerned, but I believe the BBE nails one aspect of this bad to worse situation – the children of Ammon understood, one way or the other, that they had done this to themselves. But instead of putting down the shovel, Ammon picked up the sword!

The children of Ammon could have sought to repair the damage that had been done, they could have fought back the fire they had started, they could have apologized for the shame they had caused and they could have stopped digging the hole they were standing in, but they kept swinging the hammer, they kept adding fuel, they responded with arrogance and they kept digging!

And lest we miss the lesson of Ammon’s mistake when it comes to the stubbornness of king Hanun and his people (by piling on with dirt from our own hole), might I ask how many times have we have found ourselves in a particular situation simply because we refused to put the shovel down?

And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah…” (2 Samuel 11:1)

#bible-application, #learning-from-the-mistakes-of-others, #personal-application, #personal-responsibility

Sharing our mistakes with our children

I can’t tell you exactly how my daughter knows that her mother and I have had a few auto-accidents between the two of us (all of which, with the exception of one, were our fault and when we were practically teenagers); but one thing I can tell you for sure is that for some reason, she likes for us to tell her about them as we’re driving down the road.

I know the kiddo has seen an accident or two on the road. Maybe after she saw one of the accidents she asked if we had ever been in any.

I guess it doesn’t matter exactly why she originally asked. I guess what matters is that we chose to share our mistakes with her…after-all, she wouldn’t have known about them unless we told her (we know it wasn’t grandma or grandpa that let the cat out of the bag).

I suppose it’s important for a Christian parent to share their mistakes with his or her child. Age discretion and maturity obvious play a factor as to the timing and details.

I believe there are certain matters that should remain between ourselves and our judge. But I also believe that it’s important for a child to know why they can privately trust God’s grace by openly explaining to them why we, as parents, need to do the same thing. Think about the conversations that David and Solomon must have obviously had…or Solomon and Rehoboam when it came to relationships!

I do not give this advice in order to hand a child an excuse as to why they should be able to be free to make the same mistakes as his or her parent – to the contrary! Sharing our mistakes with our children should be done in a way to help them understand why it’s important to follow the commands of our God and their God. For our goal as a parent must not only be to help them grow from young to old as our son or daughter; our goal as a Christian parent must also be to help our children become a brother or sister in Christ.

My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother; for they will be a graceful ornament on your head, and chains about your neck. My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent.” (Proverbs 1:8-10)

#learning-from-the-mistakes-of-others, #parenting, #raising-faithful-children

The difference between making a mistake as a parent and failing as parent

Let’s face it; you can’t make it through life as a parent without making mistakes. And making mistakes as a parent doesn’t automatically equate to someone being failure at it…nor do the mistakes made by your children. But the two can be very closely related.

Let me describe the difference:

Your children making the same mistakes you did as a young person doesn’t make you a failure at being a parent. Your children making the same mistakes you did as a young person with your blessing makes you a failure at being a parent.

Children are going to do things that are wrong – even when they know they don’t have the blessing of his or her parent. But for a child to gain a stamp of approval from a parent while they are doing something morally, ethically, financially or whatever is conceivably wrong is just plain wrong.

Listen to this – the youthful mistakes of a parent does not give that parent’s child a right to make the same mistakes! A wrong from a parent’s past will remain a wrong for his or her child in the future. And we will fail as parents if we don’t understand this principle.

Parents are there to be a guide for their children – a guide that hones the conscience by stepping in when a wrong decision is being made whether that child realizes it or not…and whether or not your conscience made the right decision when facing the same situation.

There’s a world of difference between making mistakes as a parent and failing as a parent; but intentionally allowing our children to do the former puts us dangerously close to the latter.

Now therefore, listen to me, my children; pay attention to the words of my mouth:” (Proverbs 7:24)

And by the way – the above quoted words came from a parent who made huge mistakes in his life, and that’s why he gave his son the warning, not the approval, that he needed to hear when it came to the responsibility of making his own choices.

#failure, #learning-from-the-mistakes-of-others, #parenting, #raising-faithful-children

Parents, Put Your Foot Down

Read a story yesterday about a mom who punished her 11-year-old daughter for “twerking” at a school dance in which the school itself did nothing about. And some people think the preacher has no reason to still talk about the spiritual dangers of dancing to young people???

I for one was glad to actually read about a mother in the news that was trying to actually instill some self-respect into her daughter. I don’t know anything about the woman’s spiritual condition, but what I do know is that she obviously has some kind parental radar that’s actually turned on!

Parents need to put their foot down every once in a while when it comes to their kids, and it doesn’t need to stop as long as they are living under your roof. That’s right, your child needs to know who’s paying the bills, who’s buying the food, and who’s in charge of everything from their media diet, to the clothes they wear and right down to body that wears them until the baby bird leaves the nest.

I’m not saying kids shouldn’t have any freedom of expression – what I’m saying is that when they fail to show necessary discretion then it’s time for the parent to reserve the right of censorship, guidance and discipline!

If a parent refuses to put their foot down when it’s needed then the result will be a child that walks all over the parent. And if any parent thinks they’re doing their child a favor by being their friend instead of their parent or by not being proactive and reactive to the bad decisions they make, then they’re doing their child a disservice on multiple levels.

And parents, please, please, please don’t fall into the lame trap and so-called excuse that says, “Well, I did it when I was a kid so I can’t say anything about it.”

Just because you made a mistake doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to learn from that mistake or that you’re not obligated to try to instill some wiser wisdom learned from those mistakes into others. I just used a double, yes, even a triple negative in the previous sentence, but that doesn’t mean I can’t tell my daughter that it’s improper English to do so! It’s on me if I fail to warn my daughter about the dangers and stupidity of my past mistakes – and it’s on me if I stand by and allow her to intentionally make the same decisions because of some supposed hypocrisy accusation from her or anyone else. A person who calls that hypocrisy has no idea about what the word actually means!

Parents put your foot down as you raise up your child!

Give your heart to teaching, and your ears to the words of knowledge. Do not keep back training from the child: for even if you give him blows with the rod, it will not be death to him. Give him blows with the rod, and keep his soul safe from the underworld. My son, if your heart becomes wise, I, even I, will be glad in heart; And my thoughts in me will be full of joy when your lips say right things. Have no envy of sinners in your heart, but keep in the fear of the Lord all through the day; For without doubt there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off. Give ear, my son, and be wise, guiding your heart in the right way. Do not be among those who give themselves to wine-drinking, or among those who make themselves full with meat: For those who take delight in drink and feasting will come to be in need; and through love of sleep a man will be poorly clothed. Give ear to your father whose child you are, and do not keep honour from your mother when she is old. Get for yourself that which is true, and do not let it go for money; get wisdom and teaching and good sense.” (Proverbs 23:12-23 – BBE)

#children, #choices, #dancing, #guidance, #hypocrisy, #learning-from-the-mistakes-of-others, #news, #parenting

Basic Outline for “Lessons from Demas”

Here’s my basic outline from my sermon yesterday morning:

Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow laborers.” (Philemon vs. 23-24)

Luke the beloved physician and Demas greet you.” (Colossians 4:14)

Be diligent to come to me quickly; for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica—Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia.” (2 Timothy 4:9-10)

Lesson #1 from Demas – Don’t ever think you can’t be a Demas (1 Corinthians 10:12)

Lesson #2 from Demas – Don’t let down your spiritual guard (Hebrews 2:1)

Lesson #3 from Demas – If all we’re looking for out of life is “Thessalonica” then “Thessalonica” is all we’re going to get (Hebrews 11:24-26)

Lesson #4 from Demas – When someone leaves, don’t stick your head in the sand (Galatians 6:1-2)

If you find it useful, use it to God’s glory!

#apostasy, #demas, #faith, #faithfulness, #faithlessness, #learning-from-the-mistakes-of-others, #sermon-outline