One source says only one-third of family businesses make a healthy transition to the next generation, and only twelve percent make a transition to the third generation. On his talk show, Dave Ramsey answered a question about working in a family business. He said, “You have to wear different hats…When I sit down with my daughter on a business-related thing I’m saying ‘Rachel, I am dealing with you on this issue as one of the brands of this company, and I’m your CEO. I’m not talking to you as your dad.’ If they aren’t bringing it, then put on your CEO hat. You’re not firing your kid. You’re firing an incompetent employee.” King Asa must have had a similar model for the royal family.
While there was never a good king over the northern kingdom of Israel during the divided kingdom, Judah (the southern kingdom) had a few good kings. To be a good king in Judah required a lot of effort. It’s the typical frustration, “I just cleaned up this mess; can’t we keep it clean for ten minutes!” As soon as you think you are making progress, there is more work to be done.
Asa got busy “cleaning up” Judah. “Asa did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord…he took away the sodomites out of the land, and removed all the idols that his fathers had made” (1 Kings 15:11-12). Asa already deserves a citation for his meritorious efforts. It’s not easy to reverse your dad’s mistakes and removing sodomites from the kingdom—well, we can fully appreciate how complicated that must have been.
There is one more statement about Asa which underscores his heart’s desire to please the Lord. “And also Maachah his mother, even her he removed from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove; and Asa destroyed her idol, and burnt it by the brook Kidron” (1 Kings 15:13). The relationship is a little foggy. Based on the family tree the Bible gives, Asa had a grandmother named Maachah. As to whether his mother had the same name is unknown. So taking what we know about Asa, he got rid of granny! Talk about going full bore for right! Asa takes the cake when he fires his grandmother!
The lesson we learn from Asa is this: Where does your loyalty lay? Asa was loyal to what was right before he was loyal to any person. He didn’t have to be unkind or ugly about it, but how genuine would his pursuit of righteousness be if he corrected everyone else but still had a mess in his own home?
Decide to be loyal to God first. Right is thicker than blood. Doing what is right may hurt people you love (i.e. parents, children, friends), however, you will stand accountable before God for what you do, so do “right in the eyes of the Lord.” Your steadfast loyalty to what is right may be the anchor your loved one needs when their life crashes on the rocks of regret.
Whether it’s on the children’s menu placemat or a recent edition of a children’s magazine, you will often find a favorite game, Search and Find. It’s a game of hidden objects. The leg of that chair is actually a pencil. The book on the bookcase is actually a comb. Testing their powers of observation, children enjoy passing the time with this simple game.
Leviticus 4-5 and Numbers 15 bring up this interesting topic— the sin of ignorance. “And if a soul sin, and commit any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the Lord; though he wist it not, yet is he guilty, and shall bear his iniquity” (Leviticus 5:17). What is this all about? These two passages develop the reality, no son of Adam could possibly keep all of the commandments God issued to His people. Although the “sins of ignorance” could be you didn’t know the law, it is more likely these are moments where you unintentionally broke the law.
This opens up an entirely new and depressing world of potentialities! This should immediately disqualify anyone who could ever boast of keeping the whole law, yet Jesus had such a visitor. A rich young ruler runs to Christ, falls to his knees, and declares, “All these things have I kept from my youth up” (Matthew 19:20). Once you consider God is highly aware of our sinfulness and how unaware we are of our sorriness, this young man’s impertinence is astounding! Jesus goes along with the young man and he begins to “play the game” of search and find. “Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 19:18–19). Without being demeaning, Christ challenges the young man to re-examine his life. Your faithfulness to the synagogue on the face looks great, but it may be concealing a different motivation. Your alms-giving seems philanthropic, but how much of God’s blessing have you restrained from others? “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me” (Matthew 19:21).
When God searches, He finds. Therefore, we must offer up the humble prayer, “Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, Our secret sins in the light of thy countenance. Cleanse thou me from secret faults” (Psalm 90:8; Psalm 19:12). Paul realized, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing” (Romans 7:18).
The good news is God’s grace is extremely thorough for “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20). Instead of tabulating every infraction against God, we now live in liberty.
My sin—Oh, the bliss of this glorious thought—
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
As you may have read in a previous devotional, I love being in the outdoors. Fishing, hunting, hiking- I enjoy it all. If I find myself inside for too long, Amy will tell you that I go stir-crazy! And while I love just about everything about the outdoors, there is one hazard of being outdoors in the summertime and in a more remote, mountainous region that has me on guard. Snakes. And not just any snake- rattlesnakes! For that reason, if I find myself hiking or trout fishing from around May through October I will be keenly aware of where I put my foot down. Not that there are rattlesnakes under every bush, albeit I believe I have only ever seen 3 in my life, but the fear of them has me constantly on edge if I am in snake country.
Our passage today has a verse that has with it the principle of how my attitude is this time of the year in the woods. Eph. 5:15 says, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise.” The previous verses in this chapter talk about the wickedness of an unbelieving society, as well as the attachment that our flesh has that lifestyle as well. Verse 12 says that it is even “a shame to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.”
Because our sinful nature is working in contrast to what God wants to do in our lives, and because of the sin all around us, Paul tells us to walk “circumspectly”. This word means, “to look around”. It means to be prudent or cautious. In contrast, the fool mentioned in the second half of the verse just bumbles through life with no care or concern for his surroundings or environment.
What is Paul teaching here? I don’t believe he means for us to isolate ourselves and live in a bubble. But I do believe the Lord wants us to be very aware of what types of things we are allowing ourselves to be exposed to as well as areas we might have a propensity to struggle. Satan is always looking to set traps for Christians and the foolish Christian will make himself an easy prey and suffer the consequences. May we be careful and prudent in our daily walk so as to not let Satan get an advantage of us.
It was a creek much like you see in our area—forty feet wide and about twenty feet deep. Matawan Creek had many swimming holes where a group of boys could splash away the sweltering summer days. Eleven-year-old Lester Stillwell being the first one in the water on a sunny July afternoon in 1916 called out to the shore for his buddies to watch him float. Within moments the serene moment was shredded with terror. Confused and hungry, a shark latched onto Lester’s arm, thrashed around, and plunged into the foaming waters. Lester’s friends ran panicked to town screaming, “A shark got Lester!” Stanley Fisher, a young athletic man, rushed to the creek. While attempting to rescue Lester, the shark bit an enormous chunk out of his leg. In a handful of minutes, the quaint town several miles from the ocean sunk in despair. Who would have ever imagined a shark attack here?
One of the accounts of this story tells about the prevailing assumptions during this time. A shark attacking people? Absurd! Yet, in a matter of two weeks, several people were attacked which provoked scientists to reconsider. Presently, every summer you will hear warnings about sharks at the beach, “Keep an eye out!”
Solomon’s wisdom for his son sounds similar although he isn’t warning him about sharks. He tells his son, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; For out of it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23). Keep means to guard, to watch. Beware of anything suspicious which might drag you down.
Look out for anger!
Watch out for lust!
Beware of bitterness!
He insists you should not enter “the path of the wicked.” Instead, “Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away” (Proverbs 4:15). You have been given many instructions in life, and maybe sometimes they have been unclear. Maybe sometimes you were a little foggy about the details, but it is impossible to question the instructions in Proverbs 4:15! Have nothing to do with the way of the evil person.
How do you guard or keep your heart? As one person said, “We have need to guard every port, and write over every portal, ‘Here there entereth nothing to hurt or to defile.'” Read Proverbs 4 and you see every port mentioned. “Incline thine ear unto my sayings…Perverse lips put far from thee. Let thine eyes look right on…Ponder the path of thy feet.”
It reminds me of the tenacious defense system of the psalmist. “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside…He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house: he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight” (Psalm 101:3, 7). Many are dangerously unaware of the enemies tactics like the people of Matawan, New Jersey. Something as valuable as your heart must be fortified.
Keep your heart with all diligence.
I heard on the news the other day that our nation experienced the lowest birth rate in many years in 2017. Most of us would acknowledge that and move on; however, should we not question the reason? Do we want to take every word from the media as gospel? Heaven forbid! We have become as sheep to the slaughter. We are so wrapped up in worldly pursuits that we have lost our sense of “reason”. Paul writes in Acts 17:11 speaking of the Bereans, “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” The Thessalonicans were lackadaisical in their Scripture reading. They did not compare the preaching to Scripture.
It should remind us to pay attention to what we hear and question its validity. Paul is certainly not suggesting questioning the Bible. Rather he is showing that the Bereans were making sure the conveyors of God’s Word were spot on. Most preachers love sincere seekers of the truth.
If we are to question preachers how much more the media? Most of them are non-believers and have a disdain for God. We should ask why the birth rate is lower? Because many conceived babies are not making it to birth! Simply put they are aborted. This is a terrible stain upon our nation. The Bible is clear that God, and Him alone, is the Giver, Sustainer and Taker of life. In our reading from Ps.71:5-6 God says, “For thou art my hope, O Lord GOD: thou art my trust from my youth. By thee have I been holden up from the womb: thou art he that took me out of my mother’s bowels: my praise shall be continually of thee,” Is. 44:2a, “Thus saith the LORD that made thee, and formed thee from the womb…,” and Jer. 1:5a, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee….”
Clearly God knows us individually prior to conception. Oh, the disappointment God must feel for these national sins. We cannot expect blessing with such a scourge upon our land. It could explain why our country is no longer protected from many things as it once was. God is withdrawing His protective hand from this land of ours. But God is the God of second chances if only we will. “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Ch. 7:14). How many presidents, doctors, theologians, mothers and fathers has our land erased?