June 7: The Forgotten Christian Virtue
2 Chronicles 17:1–18:34; Titus 3:8–11; Psalm 99:1–100:5
An unfortunate effect of our emphasis on God’s grace is our dwindling focus on the connection between obeying God’s will and receiving His blessings. If we’re not living in the primary will God designed for us, then we will not be in the right place at the right time to do His work. And if we don’t show up in the right moments (as designed by God), we won’t be in a position to receive the glorious blessings of the good works He intended for us.
We see the kind of obedience God requires of us in the beginning of King Jehoshaphat’s life. He is quick to align himself with God’s will and, as a result, God is quick to bless him (2 Chr 17:1–6). God extends blessings appropriate for a king—the right people to protect him and offer him guidance, as well as wealth and honor (2 Chr 17:12–19; 18:1).
Based on this understanding of God’s desire to bless our obedience, Paul later encourages Titus to tell other believers to “be careful to engage in good deeds … [for they are] beneficial to people … [and] to avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and contentions and quarrels about the law, for they are useless and fruitless” (Titus 3:8–9).
Although the Law (Genesis—Deuteronomy) is no longer the reigning force in our lives, God still requires obedience. When we’re obedient, we’re in God’s will, and when we’re in God’s will, we experience even more of His blessings. We realize what it means to be made in His image—to live as He intended us to live.
It’s easy to take this connection too far, wrongly suggesting that people who seem blessed must be in God’s will or that wealth is a result of following God. This is rarely the case. King Jehoshaphat is a unique example of divine blessing, and the blessings he received aligned with his needs as the leader of God’s people. God’s blessings are usually far less tangible—they can be things like joy in Christ, a sense of peace that comes from being in His will, or the incredible feeling that comes from being involved when someone comes to believe in Christ or know Him more deeply. God’s blessings cannot be earned. They are experiences He gives us, often without merit.
We can never be obedient enough to earn the goodness God bestows on us. But obedience puts us in the right place at the right time for experiencing God’s work. Every moment is a chance to be closer to Him, and obedience is our roadmap for the journey.
How can you invite God and other believers to help you with obedience? What is one thing you can change (or work on changing) this week?
JOHN D. BARRY
- And Jehoshaphat his son reigned in his stead, and prevailed against Israel. And he put garrisons in all the strong cities of Judah, and set bands in the land of Judah and in the cities of Ephraim, which Asa his father had taken. And the Lord was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the first ways of his father David, and sought not Balaam, But sought the Lord God of his father, and walked in his commandment, and not after the trade of Israel. Therefore the Lord established the kingdom in his hand, and all Judah brought presesnts toJehoshaphat, so that he had of riches and honor in abundance. And he lifted up his heart unto the ways of the Lord, and he took away moreover the high places and the groves out of Judah. And in the third year of his reign he sent his princes, Ben-Hail, and Obadiah, and Zechariah, and Nethanel, and Michaiah, that they should teach in the cities of Judah, And with them Levites, Shemaiah, and Nethaniah, and Zebadiah, and Asahel, and Shemiramoth, and Jehonathan, and Adonijah, and Tobijah, and Tobadonijah, Levites, and with them Elishama and Jehoram, Priests. And they taught in Judah, and had the book of the Law of the Lord with them, and went about throughout all the cities of Judah, and taught the people. And the fear of the Lord fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that were round about Judah, and they fought not against Jehoshaphat. Also some of the Philistines brought Jehoshaphat gifts and tribute silver, and the Arabians brought him flocks, seven thousand and seven hundred rams, and seven thousand and seven hundred he goats. So Jehoshaphat prospered and grew up on high, and he built in Judah palaces and cities of stone. And he had great works in the cities of Judah, and men of war, and valiant men in Jerusalem. And these are the numbers of them after the house of their fathers, In Judah were captains of thousand, Adnah the captain, and with him of valiant men three hundred thousand. And at his hand Jehohanan a captain, and with him two hundred and fourscore thousand, And at his hand Amasiah the son of Zichri, which willingly offered himself unto the Lord, and with him two hundred thousand valiant men. And of Benjamin, Eliada a valiant man, and with him armed men with bow and shield, two hundred thousand. And at his hand Jehozabad, and with him an hundred and fourscore thousand armed to the war. These waited on the king, besides those which the king put in the strong cities throughout all Judah. And Jehoshaphat had riches and honor in abundance, but he was joined in affinity with Ahab. And after certain years he went down to Ahab to Samaria: and Arab slew sheep and oxen for him in great number, and for the people that he had with him, and enticed him to go up unto Ramoth Gilead. And Ahab king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat king of Judah, Wilt thou go with me to Ramoth Gilead? And he answered him, I am as thou art, and my people as thy people, and we will join with thee in the war. And Jehoshaphat said unto the king of Israel, Ask counsel, I pray thee, at the word of the Lord this day. Therefore the King of Israel gathered of Prophets four hundred men, and said unto them, Shall we go to Ramah Gilead to battle, or shall I cease? And they said, Go up: for God shall deliver it into the king’s hand. But Jehoshaphat said, Is there here never a Prophet more of the Lord that we might inquire of him? And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man by whom we may ask counsel of the Lord: but I hate him: for he doth not prophesy good unto me, but always evil: it is Michaiah the son of Imla. Then Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so. And the king of Israel called an eunuch, and said, Call quickly Michaiah the son of Imla. And the king of Israel, and Jehoshaphat King of Judah sat either of them on his throne clothed in their apparel: they sat at even in the threshing floor at the entering in of the gate of Samaria: and all the Prophets prophesied before them. And Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah made him horns of iron, and said, Thus saith the Lord, With these shalt thou push the Aramites until thou hast consumed them. And all the Prophets prophesied so, saying, Go up in Ramoth Gilead, and prosper: for the Lord shall deliver it unto the hand of the king. And the messenger that went to call Michaiah, spake to him, saying, Behold, the words of the Prophets declare good to the king with one accord: let thy word therefore, I pray thee, be like one of theirs, and speak thou good. And Michaiah said, As the Lord liveth, whatsoever my God saith, that will I speak. So he came to the king, and the King said unto him, Michaiah, shall we go to Ramoth Gilead to battle, or shall I leave off? And he said, Go ye up, and prosper, and they shall be delivered into your hand. And the King said to him, How oft shall I charge thee, that thou tell me noting but the truth in the Name of the Lord? Then he said, I saw all Israel scattered in the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd: and the Lord said, These have no master: let them return every man to his house in peace. And the King of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, Did I not tell thee, that he would not prophesy good unto me, but evil? Again he said, Therefore hear ye the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sit upon his throne, and all the host of heaven standing at his right hand, and at his left. And the Lord said, Who shall persuad Ahab King of Israel, that he may go up, and fall at Ramoth Gilead? And one spake and said thus, and another said that. Then there came forth a spirit and stood before the Lord, and said, i will persuade him. And the Lord said unto him, Wherein? And he said, I will go out, and be a false spirit in the mouth of all his Prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade, and shalt also prevail: go forth and do so. Now therefore behold, the Lord hath put a false spirit in the mouth of these thy Prophets, and the Lord hath determined evil against thee. Then Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah came near, and smote Michaiah upon the cheek, and said, By what way wne the Spirit of the Lord from me, to speak with thee? And Michaiah said, Behold, thou shalt see that day when thou shalt go from chamber to chamber to hide thee. And the King of Israel said, Take ye Michaiah, and carry him to Amon the governor of the city, and to Joash the king’s son, And say, Thus saith the king, Put this man in the prison house, and feed him with bread of affliction and with water of affliction, until I return in peace. And Michaiah said, If thou return in peace, the Lord hath not spoken by me. And he said, Hear, all ye people. So the King of Israel and Jehoshaphat the King of Judah went up to Ramoth Gilead. And the King of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, I will change myself, and enter into the battle: but put thou on thine apparel. So the king of Israel changed himself, and they went into the battle. And the king of Arm had commanded the captains of the chariots that were with him, saying, Fight you not with small nor great, but against the king of Israel only. And when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, they said, It is the king of Israel: and they compassed about him to fight. But Jehoshaphat cried, and the Lord helped him and moved them to depart from him. For when the captains of the chariots saw that he was not the King of Israel, they turned back from him. Then a certain man drew a bow mightily, and smote the King of Israel between the joints of his brigandine: Therefore he said to his chariotman, Turn thine head, and carry me out of the host: for I am hurt. And the battle increased that day: and the king of Israel stood still in his chariot against the Aramites until even, and died at the time of the sun going down. 2 Chronicles 17:1–18:34
- This is a true saying, and these things I will thou shouldest affirm, that they which have believed God, might be careful to show forth good works. These things are good and profitable unto men. But stay foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and brawlings about the Law: for they are unprofitable and vain. Reject him that is an heretic, after once or twice admonition, Knowing that he that is such, is perverted, and sinneth, being damned of his own self. Titus 3:8–11
- The Lord reigneth, let the people tremble: he sitteth between the Cherubims, let the earth be moved. The Lord is great in Zion, and he is high above all the people. They shall praise thy great and fearful Name (for it is holy.) And the King’s power, that loveth judgment: for thou hast prepared equity: thou hast executed judgment and justice in Jacob. Exalt the Lord our God, and fall down before his footstool: for he is holy. Moses and Aaron were among his Priests, and Samuel among such as call upon his Name: these called upon the Lord, and he heard them. He spake unto them in the cloudy pillar: they kept his testimonies, and the Law that he gave them. Thou heardest them, O Lord our God: thou wast a favorable God unto them, though thou didst take vengeance for their inventions. Exalt the Lord our God and fall down before his holy Mountain: for the Lord our God is holy. Sing ye loud unto the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before him with joyfulness. Know ye that even the Lord is God; he hath made us, and not we ourselves: we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with praise, and into his courts with rejoicing: praise him and bless his Name. For the Lord is good: his mercy is everlasting, and his truth is from generation to generation. Psalm 99:1–100:5