In the first century a small army of believers turned the world upside down in a matter of a few years without TV, radio, or mass media. They simply believed in the power of the Gospel to change lives and the Holy Spirit working through them. And they did it in the face of intense opposition. Could we turn the world upside down again if we had the same faith and commitment?
What’s the real problem with the leadership in our nation? Is it party affiliation? A lack of compassion for the poor? Too much politics or too little experience? The answer is really pretty simple.
One of the greatest evils in our nation today is our failure to defend unborn babies. Will God hold us, as a nation, responsible?
Can being unequally yoked in marriage, in business, and in our close friendships affect our walk with God?
And finally, today’s readings contain one of the greatest prayers recorded. It was prayed by a man who fell short like us, but who understood where to turn for help.
2 Chronicles 19 & 20
Could We Turn the World Upside Down?
Faithful Men & Women
In verse 6 the Thessalonians said about the disciples, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.”
Beginning with the original Apostles, as they evangelized and discipled others who in turn evangelized and discipled still others, the world was turned upside down in a matter of a few years without TV, radio, or mass media, just the Word of Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.
I wonder what you and I are doing or could do to turn the world upside down. Are we as committed to share the gospel as those in the first century? Would we still be willing to blog about God and His Word if knew we could be arrested? Would we still attend worship services? Do we invest the time and effort necessary to influence the world around us for Christ?
Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:
1 You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
This is discipleship. Discipleship takes time and faithfulness. It’s coming alongside someone. It might mean going through a book on marriage with a young wife or a new believer. It might mean working through a book or Bible study on the character of God, the basics of the faith, or some other subject. It might mean teaching a young couple how to be godly parents or a newlywed how to keep house for the glory of God.
3 You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.
Are we so busy with the things of this world that we are too entangled to come alongside someone else?
8 Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, 9 for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained. 10 Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
The Gospel is not limited to our great persuasive ability, a huge platform, or who is in the White House … just our faithfulness.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes (Rom. 1.16).
Let’s turn the world upside down with the Gospel!
Today’s Other Readings:
2 Chronicles 19 & 20:
Yesterday, Jehoshaphat, a relatively good king was hanging out with, of all people, Ahab, one of the most wicked kings of the Northern Kingdom. He and his wife Jezebel took the nation of Israel deeper and deeper into idolatry. Today’s reading begins:
1 Then Jehoshaphat the king of Judah returned safely to his house in Jerusalem. 2 And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to King Jehoshaphat, “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord? Therefore the wrath of the Lord is upon you. 3 Nevertheless good things are found in you, in that you have removed the wooden images from the land, and have prepared your heart to seek God.”
Here was a man who loved God and obeyed Him in many areas, but God was greatly displeased with him because of the people with whom he associated!
But, notice that he didn’t respond to the prophet in pride or anger. It appears he had a teachable attitude. I believe he repented and recommitted himself to doing God’s will. The next few verses give us a good example.
Leadership & the Fear of the Lord
Chapter 19 goes on:
4 So Jehoshaphat dwelt at Jerusalem; and he went out again among the people from Beersheba to the mountains of Ephraim, and brought them back to the Lord God of their fathers. 5 Then he set judges in the land throughout all the fortified cities of Judah, city by city, 6 and said to the judges, “Take heed to what you are doing, for you do not judge for man but for the Lord, who is with you in the judgment. 7 Now therefore, let the fear of the Lord be upon you; take care and do it, for there is no iniquity with the Lord our God, no partiality, nor taking of bribes.”
That’s much of the problem with our government, its leaders, and our court system today—there’s no fear of the Lord!
But Jehoshaphat called his leadership team to remember where all authority comes from … not from men, but from God. He instructed them to judge the people in ways that would be pleasing to Him. Psalm 75:
6 For exaltation comes neither from the east
Nor from the west nor from the south.
7 But God is the Judge:
He puts down one,
And exalts another.
A Man of Prayer
In chapter 20, we find one of the greatest prayers in the Bible. Even though Jehoshaphat fell short in certain areas of his life, like we all do, he understood where to turn for help.
When the people of Moab and Ammon came against him, Jehoshaphat looked to God for deliverance (20.5-12):
5 Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court, 6 and said: “O Lord God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You? 7 Are You not our God, who drove out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and gave it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever? 8 And they dwell in it, and have built You a sanctuary in it for Your name, saying,9 ‘If disaster comes upon us—sword, judgment, pestilence, or famine—we will stand before this temple and in Your presence (for Your name is in this temple), and cry out to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save.’ 10 And now, here are the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir—whom You would not let Israel invade when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them and did not destroy them— 11 here they are, rewarding us by coming to throw us out of Your possession which You have given us to inherit. 12 O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”
In response, God caused their enemies to turn on and destroy each other.
For a wonderful study on this prayer and others read Susan Heck’s book, With the Master on Our Knees.
But that tendency to hang around with ungodly people came back to haunt him at the end of his life. It ended up costing him a fleet of ships and possibly the lives of their crews. Making friends with the world, hanging out with ungodly people, like any kind of sin, affects others, as well as, us.
Ungodly friends can cause you and I to compromise our walks with the Lord, too. Being unequally yoked in business often makes it impossible to use our businesses in ways that honor God. Marrying an unbeliever can affect our ability to serve God the way we want to for the rest of our lives. And what about the example we set for our children? Why should they choose friends wisely if we don’t?
Marriage & Dating with Unbelievers
Regarding marriage, if you’re already married to an unbeliever, unless there are biblical grounds (see Matt. 5.32; 1 Cor. 7.15), you’re not free to seek a divorce. You can, indeed must, still serve God, but often you’re not free to do so in the ways you desire. Your first ministry becomes your spouse, not by beating him or her over the head with the Bible, but by loving with Christ’s love (1 Pet. 3.1-7).
If, on the other hand, you are considering marriage to an unbeliever, you would be disobeying a direct command of Scripture (1 Cor. 7.39; 2 Cor. 6.14). It isn’t wise to even date an unbeliever. Our hearts become too easily entangled and can easily deceive us into justifying our disobedience (Jer. 17.9).
Our Failure to Defend the Fatherless
1 God stands in the congregation of the mighty;
He judges among the gods.
2 How long will you judge unjustly,
And show partiality to the wicked? Selah
3 Defend the poor and fatherless;
Do justice to the afflicted and needy.
4 Deliver the poor and needy;
Free them from the hand of the wicked.
The word “gods” here refers to world leaders. All authority comes from God and ultimately all the world’s leaders will answer to Him. This phrase from our reading in 2 Chronicles comes to mind, “Take heed to what you are doing, for you do not judge for man but for the LORD … therefore, let the fear of the LORD be upon you.”
Verse 2 ends with the word selah. It means “pause and think.” Decisions that affect people’s lives should be a weighty thing for our leaders. Apart from God’s wisdom and a fear of the Lord, no one can do it well.
Verse 3 says, “Defend the poor and fatherless …” If there is any area where our leaders, the political movers and shakers, the media, and people as a whole, have lost any fear of the Lord, it’s in this area.
We may be defending the poor, though not necessarily wisely, but we have horribly ignored the second part, that of defending the fatherless. Instead, as a nation, by making abortion a woman’s right, we have decided to simply destroy many of the “fatherless” as an inconvenience! Pray that the fear of God would once more rule our country!
In the meantime, let’s commit to do all we can for the most innocent and helpless of the fatherless, our unborn babies.
The Discipline of the Lord
Verse 30, “Blows that hurt cleanse away evil, as do stripes the inner depths of the heart.”
Hebrews 12.11 says it this way:
“Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
Questions to Ponder or Journal:
God still corrects and rebukes His children, sometimes through the reading and preaching of the Word and, at times, through people. How do you respond when rebuked by God?
What about the areas where you have authority: on the job, with your children, or in some other area … is the fear of God always on your mind?
What are you doing to protect the unborn? Does it affect how you vote? Where you give? What you say to others?
Are you wise about friendships and other relationships?
Are you a person of prayer, especially when faced with difficult circumstances? Or do you fret and worry instead?
And, finally, what are you doing to turn the world upside down?
I’d love to know your thoughts about today’s readings. You can leave a comment below.
An in-depth study which will equip you for a deeper and more meaningful life of prayer. It will challenge you to develop the discipline of prayer, and shows, by example, how Old and New Testament saints prayed. This expository Bible study includes homework questions at the end of each chapter for further learning.
The Excellent Wife: A Biblical Perspective by Martha Peace
This is the classic on how to be a biblical wife. I’ve gone through this book one-on-one, in small groups, and in the classroom with women of every age and spiritual maturity. I highly recommend it.
Idols of the Heart: Learning to Long for God Alone by Elyse Fitzpatrick
Do you feel discouraged, even defeated, in your battle against habitual sin? Are you dismayed or surprised by the situations that bring out your fear, anger, or distress? Elyse Fitzpatrick delves into the heart of the problem: deep down, we’re all idol-worshipers who put our loves, desires, and expectations in God’s place—and then suffer the consequences of our misplaced affections. Yet God loves his people and can use even our messy lives and struggles for his glory. Fitzpatrick shows us how to better search and know our hearts, long for our gracious Savior, and resist and crush our false gods. Includes questions for further thought.
Overcoming Fear, Worry, and Anxiety: Becoming a Woman of Faith and Confidence by Elyse Fitzpatrick
Elyse Fitzpatrick, coauthor of Women Helping Women, offers practical advice for conquering the paralyzing emotions many women encounter as they battle difficult, often overwhelming concerns about rebellious children, problems in the workplace or home, health issues, financial difficulties, and more.
In the Bible, God gives guidance and offers the true solution to our anxieties and fears. Overcoming Fear, Worry, and Anxiety accesses this information to help women—
- Identify the source of fear, worry, and anxiety
- Transform fearful thoughts into peaceful confidence
- Discover specific strategies for overcoming anxiety
Women will find comfort and encouragement through real-life examples of how others, including Elyse, cast their cares upon God and experience His strength and love.
“On Sunday mornings at Grace Community Church, small groups of people gather together in Fundamentals of the Faith classes to use this manual of thirteen lessons, which blends basic biblical truths with personal obedience and service. Many young believers take these classes to grow in their understanding of biblical truths.” With topics ranging from “God: His Character and Attributes” to “The Church: Fellowship and Worship,” this study is ideal to disciple new believers or to realize afresh what it means to believe in Jesus.
Each lesson is loaded with learning tools to help you engage Scripture- a link to 13 free downloadable messages by John MacArthur himself, study questions, memory verses, and suggestions for practical application.
Don’t forget to sign up to receive the blogs everyday by clicking the links below:
Sign up to receive the daily “Bible in a Year” posts in your inbox.
This post may contain affiliate links, but I only recommend books and resources that I believe are theologically sound and beneficial to the reader. Thank you for supporting this blog and ministry by supporting my links!