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Posts Tagged ‘Uzziah’

Prosperity and Adversity

February 12th, 2016

“In the day of prosperity be joyful, But in the day of adversity consider: Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other.” Ecclesiastes 7:14 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “prosperity and adversity.”

“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, And treat those two impostors just the same . . Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son.”
“If” – Rudyard Kipling, 1865-1936

When I was a young teen, I questioned my Dad, a pastor, about a young husband and father I had admired in our congregation. He had such a heart for God and an expressed interest in ministry. He was personable, eloquent, enthusiastic, persuasive, and diligent. His natural gifts and spiritual passion were well suited for success in ministry, until he experienced rapid and unexpected success in his construction business.

As he prospered, his plans adjusted as his interests, time, and attention shifted. I well remember his words, “My goal is to make a million dollars by the time I am thirty; then I will become a minister.” The first part of his goal was met and exceeded; the latter intention was neither attempted nor realized. My Dad’s response to my disappointment was specific, “More people can stand adversity than those who can handle prosperity.”

I didn’t fully understand it then, but across decades as a pastor, I have learned the wisdom and accuracy of my father’s words. Adversity is difficult; prosperity can be deceptive. Be careful, riches will be deceitful. In His masterful and practical Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warned, “The cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the Word and [a man] becomes unfruitful.” Matthew 13:22 NKJV. Both prosperity and adversity have unique hazards. In the best of times, you may easily forget your need of God’s daily provision; in the worst of times, you can incorrectly assume God will not meet your needs.

Uzziah was a young king of Judah who enjoyed great success during his fifty-two year reign. He beautified and fortified Jerusalem. His armies were victorious. He was feared and respected by surrounding nations. His land was fruitful and his people prosperous. “As long as he sought the Lord, God made him to prosper.” 2 Chronicles 26:5 NKJV.

Ominously, the Bible says, “So his fame spread far and wide, for he was marvelously helped [by God] until he was strong. But when he was strong his heart was lifted up to his destruction, for he transgressed against the Lord his God.” 2 Chronicles 26:15-16 NKJV. Prosperity without humility and gratitude is destructive.

Far from the prideful height of acclaim, success, and sufficiency, Uzziah died a leper under the judgement of God, ostracized from others. For me, Uzziah illustrates the practical wisdom of my Dad’s counsel, “More people can stand adversity than those who can handle prosperity.”

Here is the simple truth Solomon understood, “In the day of prosperity be joyful, But in the day of adversity consider: Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other.” Ecclesiastes 7:14 NKJV. The Apostle Paul gave invaluable advice, “Everywhere and in all things, I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Read Philippians 4:11-13 NIV. 

Today, I pray for you to “prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 2 NKJV.

Christian Communications 2016
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Home and Harvest

November 21st, 2012

A Blessed and Joyful Thanksgiving Season to our friends and readers of EveryDay Life! As you gather with family and friends, may you thankfully remember the faithfulness of God and enjoy ample provision from His hand. Gayle and I are thankful for you and your fellowship with us in this written ministry expression of Christian Communications, Inc. We are appreciative and encouraged by your kind responses and privileged to share the  practical wisdom and wonder of God’s Word with you and the friends with whom you choose to share EveryDay Life.

For our friends in the San Antonio area

I have been invited to speak this Sunday, November 25,  at 9:00 am and 10:30 am at Trinity Church, 5415 N Loop 1604 E (at the Judson exit on NE Loop 1604). It would be our privilege to share the morning’s ministry with you.

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Home and Harvest

Home and harvest are a good place and a great time.

“Eye has not seen . . the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

1 Corinthians 2:9-10 NKJV

Circumstances distracted and misdirected Naomi. Read Ruth 1-4. The book of Ruth is just four brief chapters, but a most amazing story of God’s providence. Naomi, her husband and two sons, experienced a famine in Bethlehem, so they moved to Moab to put the tough times behind. It is usually wrong to assume another place will be better when things are not good where you are. Things weren’t better; they became worse. In tough times, look for lessons not exits.

You can grow more in adversity than in prosperity, but you must keep your problems in perspective and your confidence in God. When I was a young teen, I recall my Father observing, “More people can stand adversity than can handle prosperity.” I have witnessed that truth in many lives.

Uzziah reigned as a king until it was said of him, “He was marvelously helped until he was strong. When he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction for he transgressed against the Lord.” 2 Chronicles 29:15-16 NKJV. Prosperous times have their hazards as can adverse times. Prosperous times might promote a faulty assumption that you need God less, when you may need Him even more. Adverse times can suggest that you can care for yourself better than God has.

Naomi and her family left Bethlehem thinking Moab was their solution, but their problems grew worse there. In Moab, Naomi’s sons married, but later died, as had her husband. When you lose what you love, a famine is a small thing in comparison. She was left in a foreign land with only her Moabite daughters-in-law, but determined to return home to Bethlehem. See the gracious, providential hand of God in her return, “[Naomi] heard in Moab that the Lord had visited His people by giving them bread . . now they came to Bethlehem [the House of Bread] at the beginning of the barley harvest.” Ruth 1:6/22 NKJV. What great news to hear and good time to return home. In God’s timing, home and harvest are a good place and a great time.

Naomi inaccurately described her plight, “I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.” Ruth 1:21 NIV. Her excursion to Moab left her empty; the Lord brought her home in time for harvest, beyond anything she dared imagine. Her pain and loss made her fail to see, “’The Lord has brought me back’ . . at the beginning of the barley harvest!” Your Father will bring you home to blessing, if you let Him. Read Ruth 4:13-17 NKJV. Naomi’s grandson would become the grandfather of David, and the lineage of the Messiah promised to Israel! See Matthew 1.

Like Naomi, you may not yet know what God has prepared for you but this is true, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 NLT. God’s timely harvest will wipe away your loss from the famine. She left in a famine; God brought her home at a time of harvest.

The Bible says you can, “[learn] to be content whatever the circumstances.” Read Philippians 4:11-13/19 NKJV. Contentment is a lesson life teaches learners. Happiness doesn’t come from having all you want; happiness is found in thankfulness for what you have. In tough times, you learn that faith, family, and relationships matter more at all times.

At this Thanksgiving season, be joyful and thankful for a bountiful harvest, whether at hand or still ahead. Now is a good time to enjoy home and harvest when you, “enter His gates with Thanksgiving.” Read Psalm 100:1-5 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that you find God’s place of fullness and stay there in His will.

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Success That Matters

May 23rd, 2012

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” Proverbs 16:3 NIV

God is always involved in your success; you alone are responsible for your failures.

My thoughts and comments today are about “success that matters.”

Discussing success requires a conversation of how you define and measure success. Should a person who prospers in business but fails terribly in marriage and family be described as successful? Would a man that devotes time and attention to his family but does not adequately provide for the family financially be thought a success?

Jesus told the story of a business man that was very prosperous. Financially, he had done well. He worked hard; he planned wisely; he valued what he had; he appreciated the fruit of his labor. Read Luke 12:16-21 NIV. Spiritually, he missed the point altogether. He had neither thought nor time for God. Just when he was ready to become even more prosperous, God pronounced him “foolish! . . this is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” Read God’s appraisal carefully. The mistake was not his wealth. His mistake was a wrong focus, “things for himself,” with little or no room for God. Success apart from God is too great a price to pay.

Everyone should want to succeed at all they do, nothing wrong with that. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.” Colossians 3:23 NIV. Who would prefer failing, after all? Desiring success only for its rewards is an inadequate and misdirected motivation. And your definition of success is important. Real success has multiple components, but not single faceted. Though not an exhaustive list, I think success requires: a great idea, good opportunities, focused direction, sustained effort, ample sacrifice, sufficient time, much patience, others’ contribution, and most important of all, the Lord’s favor and blessing. Real success doesn’t just happen; God is its source. See Joshua 1:8 NIV/Psalm 1:1-3 NKJV.

I recall my father saying, “Many people can stand adversity better than prosperity.” Read Proverbs 16:18 NIV. There is a tragic figure among the Old Testament kings. See 2 Chronicles 26:1-21 NIV. He became King of Judah at sixteen and, “he did what was right in the sight of the Lord . . and as long as he sought the Lord, God gave him success.” Uzziah was victorious over his enemies; his wealth and fame exceeded; his armies were feared; his accomplishments were many. “For he was greatly helped [by the Lord], until he was strong . . but after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to his God.” vs. 5/16. Uzziah presumed authority and rights God did not give him, and his epitaph was, “King Uzziah had leprosy until the day he died.”

God made you to succeed, not fail. See 3 John 2 NKJV. “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” Proverbs 16:3 NIV. Read that slowly and carefully. God is always involved in your success; you alone are responsible for your failures. I think the intent of the verse above is to rest “whatever you do” completely into God’s hands, trusting Him for the success He gives rather than the success you want. It is foolish to make plans with the naïve presumption that God will assume responsibility for them. When God’s plans are your plans, those plans have His blessing.

My prayer for you today is that you will prosper in all good and Godly ways.

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Things Are Not As First Appear

February 12th, 2010

“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne.”   Isaiah 6:1 NIV

“Kings fail; God doesn’t. Nations fall; His Kingdom endures. Economies struggle; His blessings prevail.” 

My thoughts today are that “things are not as first appear.”

A lot about everyday life is how you choose to look at it. Uzziah had been a great king, industrious and successful. Read 2 Chronicles 26:3-22. Judah was prosperous; God was blessing. And Isaiah was a part of the King’s court, and had a front row seat for Uzziah’s successes. The Bible records such a time this way, “As long as he sought the Lord, God made him to prosper.” 2 Chronicles 26:5. Without knowing the story, you could guess that those words foreshadow a sobering change. And you would be right. My grandma would have said something like this about that, “He got too big for his britches.” And she would be right. “Uzziah was marvelously helped until he was strong . . his heart was lifted up, to his destruction, for he transgressed against the Lord.” 2 Chronicles 26:16.

This once mighty king died, a leper estranged from God. If someone so high could fall so low so fast, what would that mean? Isaiah had his eyes and hopes in the wrong place and on the wrong person. I think Isaiah might have pondered many questions about Uzziah’s rise and fall, about the nation’s well being without leadership, about himself and his own vulnerabilities, and about the future. Nothing seemed as it had been, or ever would be again.

In the midst of this confusion, Isaiah was allowed to see a glimpse beyond time and into eternity that changed him. Listen to Isaiah’s words, “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne.” Uzziah’s throne was vacated; but God was still on His Throne! Kings fail; God doesn’t. Nations fall; His Kingdom endures. Economies struggle; His blessings prevail. The circumstances were exactly as they had been; Isaiah could never again be as he was. In your life of faith, you have to know that things are not as they often appear. God is always on the throne, a place of grace and mercy, and you are welcome to come there for help in your time of need. See Hebrews 4:16 NIV.

Just days ago, there was a death in our family. When death is near or occurs, your view of life is challenged and changed. Priorities clarify; questions rise; emotions cloud your previous certainties; and memories crowd your thoughts. Let me be clear, her death was nothing like Uzziah’s because her life was nothing like his. Ellen loved and served God all her life. Her children are grown, and all of them are following the Lord and serving in ministry. She successfully “fought a good fight, finished the race, kept the faith, and has now received a crown of righteousness . .” 2 Timothy 4:7-8. She, and her family, embraced her sickness and death just as she lived her life, not with resignation or fear, but with full faith and trust in God’s grace and love. 

My point is this; when death touches close to home, you think about things differently than you may have before. The possibility and reality of death forces you to stop and think. There is little or nothing that you face as solemnly as death. Your assumptions about the immediate future are less certain; your thoughts of eternity become inescapable, either comforting or uncomfortable. If you are wise, you will examine your life in ways that you have not. It’s best to live everyday that way.

Whatever you are trusting in today – your health, wealth, success, reputation, friends, long life, family – where will you turn when any or all of that fails? Isaiah turned his heart and eyes to see the one constant, to see God who sits on an eternal throne whose righteousness is never compromised, His power never lacking, His grace ever abundant, His mercy unmatched, His love unimagined. See Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV.

My prayer for you is: keep your eyes fixed on Jesus without the distraction of lesser things.

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