Look In! Look Up, Look Out! – III

John 4:16-18

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

This representation of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s Well depicts our featured Scripture, John 4:16 through 18.

  • She had arrived with a dry and empty water jar to fill at the well.
  • What she didn’t understand was that not only was her water jar dry and empty, but she also was dry and empty!

It almost looks like the Savior is pointing an accusing finger at her, and she reacts in astonishment, Who, me?” After all, He had just told her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” Her response was simply, “I have no husband.” What Jesus replied to her certainly caught her attention: You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband…” (John 4:17, 18). Yes, it does sound accusatory! But sometimes we need to have our ungodly lifestyle pointed out to us!

In the last Gem, we learned from…

  • …John 2:24 and 25 (English Standard Version), that Jesus …knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for He Himself knew what was in man.
  • Hebrews 4:13, “…there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account.

Jesus knows everything we have ever done, said, or thought! And for the sinner, that ought to scare the ‘whatever’ out of him or her! By the way, we have finally arrived at the first part of our title for this series: “Look In! Look Up! Look Out! We may have to be ‘forced’ to Look In, into our lives and hearts…

  • …to see what is there!
  • …to see what God sees when He deeply examines us!

We don’t know the full story of this woman’s life. But, as Jesus said, she…had five husbands…,” and she was now living with a man who was not her husband! What might we discern from this?

  • Perhaps she grew up as part of a dysfunctional family. Perhaps her father was abusive to her mother and their children. Perhaps that is what was modeled to her as a ‘normal family’!

I grew up in a dysfunctional family. My father did not treat my mother as he should. And he deserted the family for another woman when I was ten. I remember ‘talking’ to my future wife when I was about fifteen (It would be seven years before I met her!) But I wanted her to know I would be a different husband for her and a different father for our children! However, I still had so much to change when I did marry, both in attitude and actions!

Maybe this woman just couldn’t get away from her early family life!

  • Perhaps her first husband turned out to be something other than what he first appeared to be. Most likely it was an arranged marriage.
➔   Was he abusive? 

➔   Was he addicted to wine? 

➔   Was he lazy and didn’t support his 

➔   Had he married another woman, and 
     she was his favorite?
  • All we might discern from her having five husbands is that…
...she was looking for a life com-
     panion who would love her and care 
     for her!...she had given up on marriage 
     and was now living with a man!

But the deeper problem was this:

  • What she needed was “…living water…that only the Messiah could provide!
  • What she was settling for prior to Jesus’ arrival was poor substitutes to fill her emptiness and thirst!

That is the problem with so many of us!

  • We try to fill up our emptiness and thirst with substitutes! What we then experience is…
➔   ...empty substitutes only increase 
     our emptiness!

➔   ...empty water jars do not slake 
     our thirst!
  • Every one of us needs the living water that only Jesus Christ can provide! As He told the Jews at the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:37, 38).
...rivers of living water...,” 
    not just to satisfy oneself, but... 

...rivers of living water...flowing up and out of one’s life, 
    spreading in all directions, 
    offering true satisfaction to 
    many others!

So Jesus directed the Samaritan woman to first Look In! She needed to discover the reason for her inner craving. She needed to see herself as God saw her:

…a dry and desperately thirsty person
in need of “…living water…”!

…a sinner in need of the Savior!

Don’t we all need that?

Look In! Look Out! Look Up! – II

John 4:3-10

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Here again is our featured Scripture, John 4:3 through 10:

[Jesus]...left Judea and departed again to 
Galilee. But He needed to go through Samar-
ia. So He came to a city of Samaria...
called Sychar, near...Jacob’s well....A 
woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus 
said to her, “Give Me a drink.” ...the 
woman...said to Him, “How is it that You, 
being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Sam-
aritan woman?” For the Jews have no deal-
ings with Samaritans. Jesus answered...
“If you knew the gift of God, and who it 
is who asks you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you 
would have asked Him, and He would have 
given you living water.”

In the last Gem we learned why Jews would avoid Samaritans and Samaria! But when Jesus left Judea to go back to Galilee, “…He needed to go through Samaria…!

  • It was not because that was the shortest route to Galilee.
  • It was because Samaria occupied extensive Israel territory between Judea and Galilee.
  • It was because there was a certain woman there…
...who needed to meet Jesus, who 
    is the “...Messiah...the way, the 
    truth, and the life...! (John 4:
    25; 14:6).  

✞   ...who would then lead other Sam-
    aritans back to Jesus! (see John 
  • It was all part of the very reason why the Lord Jesus came from heaven to earth: …for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10).

Consider the setting at Jacob’s Well, which was located in the mountains of northern Palestine, near the southeastern base of Mount Ebal.

We have to consider the complete verses of John 4:6 and 7 (edited in the last Gem): “Now Jacob’s Well was there. Jesus, therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. A woman came to draw water.

  • …the sixth hour…” was reckoned from 6:00 AM, which would be just about noon – beginning the hottest part of the day! The time of day when the other women of the town came to Jacob’s Well would have been in the cool of the morning or, perhaps, a second trip in the evening.
  • Why was this woman coming at such an unusual time? Look ahead to verses 16 and 17:
Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, 
and come here.” The woman answered and 
said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to 
her, “You have well said, ‘I have no hus-
band,’ for you have had five husbands, 
and the one whom you now have is not your 
husband; in that you spoke truly.”

   Obviously, this was an immoral 
    woman – married five times, and 
    now living with a man outside the 
    bonds of marriage!

You might wonder, “How many other 
    illicit affairs has she been in-
    volved in?That was probably a 
    main topic of gossip among the 
    other women of Sychar!

✞   No wonder she avoided the women 
    of the town by coming in an un-
    comfortable part of the day to 
    draw water!

But Jesus knew all this, all her past history and her present condition, because, as it says in John 2:23 and 24, “…He knew all men, and has no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.

  • One designation for Jesus is “…the Word…” (see John 1:1 and 14; I John 1:1-3).
  • This is what is written concerning “…the Word…” in Hebrews 4:12 and 13 (Modern King James Version):
For the Word of God is living and powerful 
and sharper than any two-edged sword, 
piercing even to the dividing apart of soul 
and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, 
and is a discerner of the thoughts and 
intents of the heart. Neither is there any 
creature that is not manifest in His sight, 
but all things are naked and opened to the 
eyes of Him with whom we have to do. 
  • This ought to…
   ...scare to the core people who are 
    not Christians! Jesus knows you in-
    side and out, your whole history......from infinite past, before 
         your conception in womb of 
         your mother...

    ➔   ...to the infinite future: the 
         glories of eternal heaven for 
         the believer, and hell forever 
         if you do not repent and come 
         to Jesus to be saved!

✞   ...comfort the Christian because...

    ➔   ...according to Matthew 10:30, 
         God even knows the number of...the very hairs of your head
         ...,which, by the way, is al-
         ways changing! So...

    ➔   He ...knows that you have need 
         of...food, clothes, and every-
         thing else!

    ➔   Jesus tells us, “If you ask any-
         thing in My name [according to 
         His will], I will do it.” (John 
         14:14). It is His will to provide 
         for your needs! (see Philippians 

Let’s go back to verse 7 – How did the Lord start this conversation with the Samaritan woman? He simply said, “Give Me a drink.How simple! How effective!

It reminds me of a dear friend, Herm. He was a big guy, over six feet tall and weighed over three hundred pounds! But he loved the Lord with all that he was! Herm enjoyed telling others about Jesus. And he would take advantage of whatever situation in which he found himself to start a conversation about his Lord. One time he was in a crowded elevator that became temporarily stuck between floors. In an exasperated tone, Herm blurted out, “Why? Why?” The other people just looked at him. Then he smiled and told the other occupants, “I’ll tell you why!” And he began to hand out tracks to the several people. The name of the tract? Why?” And it explained…

  • …why we are here!
  • …why sin entered into the world!
  • …why Jesus came to save us!
  • …why He had to die on the cross!


  • …why we must accept Him into our hearts and lives as our Savior!

How do you start a conversation about Jesus?

Follow Jesus’ example and His leading. You will find more opportunities to share about the Lord Jesus Christ!

Look In! Look Out! Look Up! – I

John 4:3-10

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Pictured above is Jesus at Jacob’s well in Samaria. Let’s consider what happened, from John 4:3 through 10:

[Jesus]...left Judea and departed again to 
Galilee. But He needed to go through Samar-
ia. So He came to a city of Samaria...

called Sychar, near...Jacob’s well....
A woman of Samaria came to draw water.

Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” ...
the woman...said to Him, “How is it that
You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a
Samaritan woman?” For the Jews have no
dealings with Samaritans. Jesus answered
...“If you knew the gift of God, and who
it is who asks you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you
would have asked Him, and He would have
given you living water.”

There are several things within these eight verses that can tell us, although this featured Scripture is shortened for this Gem.

First, why did Jesus leave Judea?

  • He, not too long before, had begun His ministry in Galilee. But after some months, He came south to Judea to celebrate the Passover at Jerusalem (see John 2:13).
  • It was in Jerusalem where Jesus…
    ...caused quite a stir when He 
     cleansed the temple! (see John 2:

 ...performed many “...signs...[and] 
     many believed in His name....” 
     (John 4:23).

 ...met at night with Nicodemus, a 
     high-ranking Pharisee and member of 
     the Sanhedrin, and told Him, “You 
     must be born again.” (John 3:7 – 
     see John 3:1-21). 
  • John 4:1 through 3 – “…when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made…more disciples than John…He left Judea and departed again to Galilee.

But it says in John 4:4, “…He needed to go through Samaria….Samaria was considered off limitsto most Jews! Why?

Samaritans were considered half-breeds!

  • Seven hundred and fifty years before, in 722 BC, Samaria, the capital city of Israel’s northern kingdom, was defeated by the Assyrian army and taken into captivity! This was divine punishment for over 200 years of apostasy! They had forsaken Jehovah, the One True God!
  • The king of Assyria, Sargon II, depopulated the Jews from Samaria, and repopulated the region with “…people from Babylon, Cuthah, Ava, Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel…” (II Kings 17:24).
  • Although they were taught customs and practices of the Jews, as well as some of their religion, these new Samaritans mixed it all together with their foreign religions! The result was…
 ✡   “...every nation continued to make 
     gods of their own....So they feared 
     the LORD...yet served their own gods
     ...[and] followed their former rit-
     uals.” (II Kings 17:29, 32, 33).

 ✡   ...the Samaritans had their own 
     priesthood (not the descendants of 
     Aaron); and their own temple on 
     Mount Gerizim....they were considered at best 
     schismatic Jews, and at worst 
  • Those of the southern Judean area of Israel, who considered themselves real and faithful Jews, would “…have no dealings with Samaritans…! (John 4:9).
 ✡   If a Jew was traveling from Judea 
     north to Galilee, he would take 
     the long way around – east, down 
     to Jericho; north, up the Jordan 
     Valley; then west into Galilee – 
     bypassing unclean Samaria com-
     pletely!They would not speak with a civil 
     tongue to a Samaritan!They would certainly not eat or 
     drink from anything a Samaritan 
     touched – especially a woman!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

So why did Jesus…need…to go through Samaria…? Because there was a certain woman there…

  • …who needed to meet Jesus, who is the “…Messiah…the way, the truth, and the life…! (John 4:25; 14:6).
  • …who would then lead other Samaritans back to Jesus! (see John 4:28-30).

Now all this is just part of the introduction to Look Up! Look Out! In the next Gem, we will see how the Lord directed this Samaritan woman’s gaze ‘up’ instead of focusing on her sinful past and present problems!

Inside Out!

Philippians 2:10-13

(King James Version)

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Not very pretty, is it? It looks like someone’s innards! It is amazing and interesting how God designed the human body, but I was never cut outto be a surgeon! I don’t have a desire tocut into a body, living or dead! But the picture above makes a good point. We, as Christians, have to rely on an inside job if we are going to be of full use for our God!

I was reading a book today about the Jesus Film Ministry. This ministry takes Bible Scriptures about Jesus and transfers them to a film script spoken in the heart language of people who need to be reached. It is a labor-intensive/technology involved process that introduces the hearers to Jesus Christ, usually for the first time! The focus is very often toward people living under conditions hostile to the gospel. Each very short chapter highlights a film ministry worker’s experience, many times overcoming impossible obstacles by God’s miracles!

And the results can be astounding! One chapter told of an Ethiopian Christian whose father was a powerful witch doctor! Fearing his father’s murderous wrath when, as a teenager, he accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior and left his father’s traditional religion, this teen fled his native village and eventually ended up for twenty years in Canada. There, he was discipled and grew in the Christian faith.

But he was concerned about his people in Ethiopia, including his witch doctor father, so he returned to his village bringing a Jesus film with him. There, he showed this film (faithfully quoted from the Gospel of Luke) in his village and six other surrounding villages. Many responded……including his witch doctor father! And the elderly man gave up his idols and fetishes!

One of the chapter’s closing paragraphs states this: Through this Ethiopian man’s work showing the Jesus film and witnessing,…seven churches were established. Those churches have multiplied to become 40 churches with 12,000 believers!” (Jesus Speakes My Language, Jesus Film Project, page 35).

And reading this I thought, “What is wrong with me? I live in the United States of America. It is the country that has more freedoms and fewer restrictions for sharing the gospel than any other country in the world!

We all have our gifts from God, energized through the Holy Spirit. I don’t believe the Lord is asking me to…

  • …be something He didn’t design me to be!
  • …do something He didn’t design me to do!

But I want to be more productive for my Savior Jesus Christ!

  • I want to influence more of my family, my friends and even occasional acquaintances to put their faith in Jesus and experience forgiveness of sins and the fullness of eternal life!
  • I would like to help people escape the imprisonment of sin! As Jesus said in John 8:34, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.
Just ask the person who took their 
      first drink of alcohol years ago, or 
      sniffed their first line of cocaine!

 ➔   The assistant scount master of the 
      troop to which I belonged as a teen-
      ager introduced three of us older 
      scouts to pornography. I was fourteen 
      at the time. The pornographic images 
      so grabbed me, it took years, plus 
      God’s deliverance, to get rid of that 
      addiction! I hated it, but couldn’t 
      stop it....until the Lord intervened!

But how? How do I increase my desire and my boldness to be more productive for the kingdom of God?

How? I focus on one of my favorite Scriptures, Philippians 2:10 through 13 (King James Version):

...at the name of Jesus every knee should 
bow, of things in heaven, and things in 
earth, and things under the earth; and 
that every tongue should confess that 
Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God 
the Father. Wherefore, my beloved, as ye 
have always obeyed, not as in my presence 
only, but now much more in my absence, 
work out your own salvation with fear and 
trembling. For it is God which worketh in 
you both to will and to do of His good 
  • The goal is clearly spelled out in verses 10 and 11, “…at the name of Jesus every knee should bow…and…every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
    The context suggests that this points 
     to the last judgment where, “...every 
     knee [will] bow...before the Lord 
     Jesus;...and every tongue [will] 
     confess that Jesus Christ is Lord...!

    ❏   I believe that Paul is saying 
         that this will happen even con-
         cerning those who have rejected 
         Christ and are about to be cast 
         into the eternal fires of hell!...even if an angel has to give 
         them a knee behind their knees, 
         so they have to bow and grab 
         their tongue to make them con-

 ✞   How much better it is that a person 
     now voluntarily bow and confess with 
     a repentant heart?
  • This is where we, as followers of our Lord, must come in! For in verses 12 and 13, Paul addresses this issue:
    Verse 12 – “...work out your salvation 
     with fear and trembling....” I know 
     this is not exactly what the apostle 
     meant, but I read this and think, 
     “Okay, Paul! I have the fear and trem-
     bling part down pretty well!”

    ❏   I am not what some people might 
         call, “a gospel gorilla”! That’s 
         one who joyouslygrabsany oc-
         casion to share the gospel of sal-
         vation and full life in Christ!I too often tend to be a chickenwhen it comes to witnessing con-
         cerning Jesus’ redemption!

    Verse 13 – “...for it is God who works 
     in you to will and to act in order to 
     fulfill His good purpose.”                      

    ❏   How does God work in us? By His 
         Holy Spirit who permanently comes 
         to dwell in our lives and hearts 
         when we accept Jesus as our 
         Savior. As it is written in I 
         Corinthians 6:19, “...your bodies 
         are temples of the Holy Spirit, 
         who is in you, whom you have re-
         ceived from God...”

    ❏   So the Lord works from the Inside 

What does this mean for me (and for you also)?

  • If I don’t really want to do something, but God is leading me to do it, or if I don’t think I have the faith and boldness to carry out what the Lord is asking me to do, I need to confess to God my hesitancy and/or unwillingness to obey!
 ✞   He then ...works in [me] to will...” 
     or ‘want todo what He is directing 
     me to do!

 And as I obey, He gives me the power 
     to...do...whatever He is direct-
     ing me to do!
  • Here is what I call “the kicker” of this: I don’t have a problem with doing something that I really want to do! When I want to do it, it gets done!

So if God gives me the “want to”…
…then I “do” it…….because I “want to”!

Isn’t God amazing?

Truth Or Consequences!

John 3:36

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Bob Barker, host of the gameshow The Price Is Right for over 35 years, died August 26, just three and a half months before his 100th birthday! Before The Price Is Right, he hosted the whacky game show Truth Or Consequences for 18 years. The concept of that show was to ask the contestants a question almost impossible to answer.

  • The correct answer was the ‘Truth!
  • But the almost aways wrong answer led to the “Consequences!

Once the contestant gave the wrong answer, he or she would face the Conseqeunces! They would have to engage in silly stunts.

I well remember that show when I was a young teenager in the late 50s. It was fun to watch. But what is not fun is the reality of the Truth Or Consequences every person faces! In the very early days of Jesus’ ministry, his cousin, John the Baptist gave witness to Him, recorded in John chapter three. The last verse, John 3:36 says this; “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.This is a dire warning! Accept the Truth, or face the Consequences!

What is the Truth? Jesus Himself claimed to be the truth in John 14:6; “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.Why should we believe Him?

The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is God!

  • It is prophesied in the Old Testament, in Isaiah 9:6; “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (emphasis added).
  • The Apostle John wrote in John 1:1 and 14, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God….And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us….” (emphasis added). He is speaking of Jesus Christ!
  • In Hebrews 1:8 it is written, “[the Father] to the Son He says: ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever….’” (emphasis added).
  • See also John 10:30; 14:9; 20:28;Colossians 1:15-19; 2:9; II Peter 1:1

We read in Scripture that God is almighty! With just His word, “…God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1). But Word should be capitalized – because it refers to God the Son!

  • Consider Colossians 1:16 and 17:
 For by Him [Jesus] all things were created 
 that are in heaven and that are on earth, 
 visible and invisible, whether thrones or    
 dominions or principalities or powers. All 
 things were created through Him and for 
 Him. And He is before all things, and in 
 Him all things consist. 
  • Hebrews 1:1 through 3 expresses the same idea:
 God...has in these last days spoken to us 
 by His Son...through whom also He made the 
 worlds; who being the brightness of His 
 glory and the express image of His person, 
 and upholding all things by the word of 
 His power, when He had by Himself purged 
 our sins, sat down at the right hand of 
 the Majesty on high....

In Revelation 19:11 through 16 (edited because of length), The Apostle John had an amazing vision of the second coming of Christ! Jesus is not returning as Savior, but as Judge:

 “Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a 
 white horse. And He who sat on him was 
 called Faithful and True, and in right-
 eousness He judges and makes war....and 
 His name is called The Word of God.... 
 Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, 
 that with it He should strike the nations
 ...[and] rule them with a rod of iron....
 And He has on His robe and on His thigh 
 a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD 
  • But Jesus long before had said to His disciples in John 5:27 (Literal Translation of the Bible), “[the Father] also gave authority to [Jesus, the Son]…to execute judgment, for He is the Son of Man.
  • In Acts 10:39 through 43 (Good News Bible – edited because of length), Peter introduced the gospel to the Gentiles at the house of Cornelius the Roman Centurian:
 God gave the Holy Spirit and power to 
 Jesus from Nazareth. He was with Jesus, 
 as He went around doing good and healing 
 everyone who was under the power of the 
 devil....Jesus was put to death on a 
 cross. But three days later, God raised 
 Him to life and let Him be seen...by us
 ....God told us to announce clearly to 
 the people that Jesus is the One He has 
 chosen to judge the living and the dead
 ...all who have faith in Jesus will have 
 their sins forgiven in His name.
  • In Matthew 25:31 through 46 is Jesus’ teaching about the judgment of the nations. I will highlight two verses that show the verdicts He gives:
 Verse 34 – “Then the King will say 
     to those on His right hand, ‘Come, 
     you blessed of My Father, inherit 
     the kingdom prepared for you from 
     the foundation of the world....’”

 ➔  Verse 41 – “Then He will also say 
     to those on the left hand, ‘Depart 
     from Me, you cursed, into the ever-
     lasting fire prepared for the devil 
     and his angels.’

What made the difference between those on Jesus’ right hand and those on His left? Truth Or Consequences!

  • Truth!
 Jesus plainly stated in John 14:6, 
     “I am the way, the truth, and the 
     life. No one comes to the Father 
     except through Me.” (emphasis added).

 The Apostle John added this testi-
     mony in I John 5:20, “...Jesus 
     Christ...is the true God and eter-
     nal life.” (emphasis added).

 Before He went to the cross, Jesus, 
     in John chapter 17 prayed to the 
     Father. In 17 He prayed, “Sanctify 
     them [His followers] by Your truth. 
     Your word is truth.” (emphasis added).

So if you ignore the Lord Jesus Christ, and the testimony concerning Him in the Bible, you will face the Consequences!

  • A life that is stolen, killed, and destroyed! (see John 10:10).
  • A judgment in which you will hear, Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

Truth Or Consequences!
It is not just a game show from yesteryear!
Which will you choose?

King Solomon’s Three Phases of Life – Part III

Ecclesiastes 2:9-11

(New International Version)

Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14

(New King James Version)

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

King Solomon was the greatest, the richest, the wisest king in all history! He authored two complete books of the Old Testament, and a good portion of a third: The Song of Solomon; Proverbs; and Ecclesiastes. Each of these works from Solomon’s hand generally represent three significant phases of his life as king of Israel:

  • The Song of Solomon – The king as a young man!
  • Proverbs – Solomon in middle age!
  • Ecclesiastes – Solomon as an older man!

Let’s focus on the last – and what it means to us as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ today!

When I found this representation of King Solomon (above), I thought it appropriate for a couple of reasons:

  • The king is obviously wealthy! He is clothed in expensive garments, and seated on a golden throne adorned with lions’ heads (see II Chronicles 9:17-19).
  • He does not look like a man who is enjoying his wealth and position! More on this in a moment.
  • He does not look very old! We are told in II Chronicles 9:30 that “…Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel forty years.But he was very young when he ascended to the throne! If he was only 15 to 20 years old when he became king, then he was only in his mid to late 50’s toward the end of his reign!

Why would Solomon look like he was not enjoying himself in this third phase of life? I think it can be summed up in what he wrote in Ecclesiastes 2:9 through 11, the first half of our featured Scripture (The New International Version):

    I became greater by far than anyone in 
    Jerusalem before me. In all this my 
    wisdom stayed with me. I denied myself 
    nothing my eyes desired; I refused my 
    heart no pleasure. My heart took de-
    light in all my labor, and this was 
    the reward for all my toil. Yet when 
    I surveyed all that my hands had done 
    and what I had toiled to achieve, 
    everything was meaningless, a chasing 
    after the wind; nothing was gained 
    under the sun.

If you read the entire book of Ecclesiastes, the theme in many Bible versions is “vanity”. In its various forms in the King James Version, the word is repeated in this twelve-chapter book 39 times! According to Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary, it means, “emptiness or vanity, figuratively something transitory and unsatisfactory….” The New International Version (above) translates the word as “meaningless.No wonder Solomon looked like a grouch toward the end of his life! Everything he strived for turned out to be meaningless! How did this happen?

We explored in the last Gem (phase II of King Solomon’s life), how this great king increasingly departed from God’s revealed Word (see Deuteronomy 17:14 -17).

  • …he shall not multiply horses for himself….But he did!
  • …he shall not…cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the LORD has said to you, ‘You shall not turn that way again.’ But he did!
  • Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away….But he did, and his heart did turn away!
  • …nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself.But he certainly did!

And Solomon lost the closeness, the joy, the peace, and the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit! No wonder he viewed so much of life as vanity (meaningless)!

Back on March 13, 2013, I wrote a Gem entitled, Be Filled With What? In it I explained that there is a strong relationship between Ephesians 5:18 and Colossians 3:16:

  • In Ephesians 5:18 Saint Paul writes, “And be not drunk with wine, in which is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit….” There then follows, starting in verse 19 (read through Ephesians 6:20), a number of spiritual qualities that will flow out of being filled with the Spirit.
  • In the second half of Colossians 3:16 through 4:6, the same qualities are mentioned, in the same order, and with practically the same words! But Colossians 3:16 starts with “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly….”

I believe that being “…filled with the Spirit…” is closely related, if not equated, with letting “the word of Christ dwell in you richly….”

  • The wonderful experience of being filled with the Holy Spirit of God involves giving Jesus Lordship over your life! When He is Lord of your life…
    He gives the orders!

    You simply obey! 

        ➔   Jesus gave the ultimate ex-
             ample of obedience in the 
             Garden of Gethsemane, before 
             He went to the cross: “Father, 
             if it is Your will, remove 
             this cup from Me; neverthe-
             less not My will, but Yours 
             be done.” (Luke 22:42).

        ➔   But obedience to the Lord 
             Jesus brings into your life 
             the fruit of the Spirit (see 
  • The wonderful experience of being filled with the Holy Spirit of God will result in what Jesus said will happen to His followers in John 7:37 and 38: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.
    ✞   Not just a tiny spring in a person 
        bubbling deep down inside!


    ...rivers (plural!) flowing up and 
        out of a person’s life in every 
        direction – showing forth the qual-
        ities of Jesus Christ!
  • The wonderful experience of being filled with the Holy Spirit of God will produce the “…fruit of the Spirit….and that fruit of the Spirit will flow in abundance throughout (and out of) your life! It is described in Galatians 5:22, 23 (English Standard Version) thus: “…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control….

Back to King Solomon: We are not told if the king obeyed Deuteronomy 17:18 through 20 (as mentioned in the last Gem):

    ...when he sits on the throne of his 
    kingdom...he shall write for himself 
    a copy of this law in a book...and he 
    shall read it all the days of his life, 
    that he may learn to fear the LORD his 
    God and be careful to observe all the 
    words of this law and these statutes
    ...that he may not turn aside from the 
    commandments...and that he may prolong 
    his days in his kingdom, he and his 
    children in the midst of Israel.
  • Did he …write for himself a copy of this law in a book…?
  • Did he…read it all the days of his life…?
  • Did he…learn to fear the LORD his God…?
  • Was he …careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes…?
  • Did he…not turn aside from the commandments…?

We know that Solomon turned aside from God and His commandments! We also know that the king had internal kingdom trouble in the last years of his reign (see I Kings 11:14-40). And we know that the LORD fulfilled what He warned the king about in I Kings 11:10 through 13:

    “Because you have...[gone] after other 
    gods...and have not kept My covenant 
    and My statutes , which I have command-
    ed you, I will surely tear the kingdom 
    away from you and give it to your ser-
    vant. Nevertheless I will not do it in 
    your days, for the sake of your father 
    David; but I will tear it out of the 
    hand of your son. However I will not 
    tear away the whole kingdom, but I will 
    give one tribe to your son for the sake 
    of My servant David, and for the sake 
    of Jerusalem which I have chosen.”

Yes, Solomon lost many of the promises God had given him – promises that rested on the king’s obedience! But there is another great loss in his life, reflected in the illustration of the king later in his life (look again at the picture of Solomon at the beginning of this Gem). Solomon lost…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control….

It is also reflected in his later writing – The Book of Ecclesiastes; and in his oft-repeated phrase, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity…! Or “Meaningless! Meaningless!…Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” (New International Version).

However, Solomon didn’t lose everything! After all the negativity, he closes with one of the finest exhortations found in the Old Testament, the last two verses of Ecclesiastes, the second featured Scripture, Ecclesiastes 12:13 and 14:

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and
keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
For God will bring every work into judgment, including every
secret thing, whether it is good, or whether it is evil.

King Solomon’s Three Phases of Life – Part II

Proverbs 9:10-12 (Modern King James Version)

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

To understand the Second Phase of King Solomon’s life we should read the sections of Proverbs ascribed internally to Solomon:

  • Chapters 1 through 9, with the heading, “The proverbs of Solomon, Son of David, King of Israel…” (Proverbs 1:1).
  • Chapter 10 through 22:16, with the heading, “The proverbs of Solomon…” (Proverbs 10:1).
  • Chapters 25 through 29, with the heading, “These also are proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied…” (Proverbs 25:1).

It is estimated there are about 800 Solomonic proverbs in the Book of Proverbs. The problem with counting an exact number is that in several places, some scholars count one proverb while others might divide that one into two or three. According to I King 4:32 we are told, “[Solomon]…spoke three thousand proverbs, and his songs were one thousand and five.” So even at 800 extant, we only have about 27% of his proverbs!

But besides reading the book of Proverbs, we have to go back to what the LORD told Moses and the Israelites in Deuteronomy 17:14 through 17:

    When you come into the land which the 
    LORD your God is giving you...and say, 
    “I will set a king over me like all the 
    nations that are around me,” you shall 
    surely set a king over you whom the 
    LORD your God chooses....But he shall 
    not multiply horses for himself, nor 
    cause the people to return to Egypt 
    to multiply horses, for the LORD has 
    said to you, “You shall not turn that 
    way again.” Neither shall he multiply 
    wives for himself, lest his heart turn     
    away; nor shall he greatly multiply 
    silver and gold for himself.

One more very important thing God said the king must do! It is in the next three verses of Deuteronomy 17:

    ...when he sits on the throne of his 
    kingdom...he shall write for himself a 
    copy of this law in a book...and he 
    shall read it all the days of his life, 
    that he may learn to fear the LORD his 
    God and be careful to observe all the 
    words of this law and these statutes
    ...that he may not turn aside from the 
    commandments...and that he may prolong 
    his days in his kingdom, he and his 
    children in the midst of Israel.


  • The king himself was to write a copy of the law (most likely the whole Pentateuch – the first five books of our Bible).
  • He was then to read it every day, heed it, and obey it!
  • If the king obeyed, the LORD promised His blessing on the king’s reign over Israel, and for his children, his royal successors, his kingly line, to be blest as well!

Let’s consider our featured Scripture, Proverbs 9:10-12 (Modern King James Version). These verses must have been written by Solomon relatively early in his reign, because it echos what God told him to do:

    The fear of the LORD is the beginning 
    of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy 
    One is understanding. For by Me your 
    days shall be multiplied, and the years 
    of your life shall be increased. If you 
    are wise, you shall be wise for your-
    self, but if you scorn, you alone shall 
    bear it.

The reason I quoted the Modern King James Version is because it only, of the thirteen versions on my computer Bible application, captializes “Me” in the second line. “Meobviously refers to God, and so (in my opinion) should be capitalized!

Did Solomon, in this second phase of His reign, closely follow the LORD? Let’s look at the Biblical record:

  • Deuteronomy 17:16 – “…he shall not multiply horses for himself….” Did Solomon multiply horses for himself ?
    ✡   I Kings 4:26 – “Solomon had forty 
        thousand stalls of horses for his 
        chariots, and twelve thousand 
        horsemen.”  II Chronicles 9:25 has 
        the number at “...four thousand 
        stalls...,” but forty thousand is 
        thought to be the correct number; 
        the other, a scribal error.

    ✡   Why did God want the king to limit 
        the number of horses (and chariots) 
        in the kingdom?

        ➔   As it says in Psalm 20:7, 
             “Some trust in chariots, 
             and some in horses; but 
             we will remember the name 
             of the LORD our God.”

        ➔   Also in Psalm 56:11 – “In 
             God I have put my trust; 
             What can man do to me?”

    ✡   It is like America trusting in 
        guns, tanks, airplanes, and bombs. 
        The LORD can quickly remove any 
        protection we might mistakenly 
        trust..........except trusting 
        in God through Jesus Christ our 
  • Deuteronomy 17:16 – “…he shall not…cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the LORD has said to you, ‘You shall not turn that way again.’Why? What is wrong with Egypt?
It is a place that represents the 
         world! In I John 2:15 through 17 
         we are told: 

          Do not love the world or the 
          things of the world. If any-
          one loves the world, the love 
          of the Father is not in him. 
          For all that is in the world 
          — the lust of the flesh, the 
          lust of the eyes, and the 
          pride of life — is not of the 
          Father but is of the world. 
          And the world is passing away,
          and the lust of it; but he who 
          does the will of God abides 
          forever.It is a place that represents 

        ➔   When Abram and his nephew Lot 
             separated because of their 
             large flocks and herds (so 
             large that the land could not 
             support their combined hold-
             ings), Abram, the eldest, gra-
             ciously gave first choice to 
             Lot. In Genesis 13:10 we are 
             told, “And Lot...saw all the 
             plain of Jordan, that it was 
             well watered everywhere...
             like the garden of the LORD, 
             like the land of Egypt as you 
             go toward Zoar.” 

            ❏   This reminds me of an 
                 old cigarette commer-
                 cial (when such adver-
                 tising was allowed on 
                 TV): “You can take Sa-
                 lem out of the country, 
                 But....you can’t take 
                 the country out of 

            ❏   “You can take nephew Lot 
                 out of Egypt, But....you 
                 can’t take Egypt out of 

        ➔   What was wrong with Lot’s 
             choice? It led him into ter-
             rible sin! (read Genesis 
             chapters 18 and 19). And that 
             place,...like the garden of 
             the LORD, like the land of 
             Egypt...,was the location 
             of Sodom and Gomorrah, now 
             utterly destroyed and under 
             the dead waters of the Dead 
             Sea!It is a place that represents sla-
         very of the people whom God came 
         to free! 

        ➔   In Exodus chapters 1 through 
             14 we read how God redeemed 
             the Israelites from long years 
             of slavery by Moses’ leader-
             ship and the LORD’s miracles! 

        ➔   In John 8:34 and 36, Jesus 
             said, “Most assuredly, I say 
             to you, whoever commits sin 
             is the slave of sin....[But] 
             if the Son makes you free, 
             you shall be free indeed.”

    ✡    It is a place that represents 
         false religion! The Egyptians 
         were a very religious people. But 
         their religion was man-made and 

        ➔   Their many gods were tied 
             to the sun, the moon, ani-
             mals, reptiles, insects, 
             and other creaturely things 
             of this world.

        ➔   According to Paul in Romans 
             1:21 through 23, man apart 
             from the one true God had 
             made gods in the ...image
             ...like corruptible man — 
             and birds and four-footed 
             beasts and creeping things.” 
             So the best that unregenerate 
             man can come up with is God 
             like himself, or less than 
             himself, which makes him even 
             higher than God!
  • Deuteronomy 17:17 – “Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away….” Did Solomon “…multiply wives for himself…”?
    ✡   According to I Kings 11:3 through 

          ...he had seven hundred wives, 
          princesses, and three hundred 
          concubines; and his wives turn-
          ed away his heart. For...when 
          Solomon was old...his wives 
          turned his heart after other 
          gods....For [he]...went after 
          Ashtoroth...of the Sidonians, 
          and...Milcom...of the Ammonites
          ....[And he] built a high place 
          for Chemosh the abomination of 
          Moab...and for Molech the abom-
          ination of Ammon. And he did 
          likewise for all his foreign 
          wives, who burned incense and 
          sacrificed to their gods.And Solomon, in I Kings 4:31, 
             was said to be “...wiser than 
             all men....And he still 
             tried to keep a thousand wo-
             men happy?!!I have had one lovely wife 
             for almost 55 years! I can’t 
             imagine trying to keep two 
             women happy, let alone 999 
             more!Paul warns...

        ➔   ...believers in II Corin-
             thians 6:14, “Do not be 
             unequally yoked together 
             with unbelievers.”

        ➔   ...widows in I Corinthians 
             7:39, “A wife is bound by 
             law as long as her husband 
             lives; but if her husband 
             dies, she is at liberty to 
             be married to whom she 
             wishes, only in the Lord.” 
             (emphasis mine).

    ✡   Why? Because a mate who is not a 
        Christian will have a strong in-
        fluence on a husband or wife to 
        forsake the true faith of God!
  • Deuteronomy 17:17 – “…nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself.Yet he certainly did!
There was none richer than Sol-
        omon! I Kings 10:21 gives us a 
        hint of his riches: “All King 
        Solomon’s drinking vessels were 
        of gold...pure gold; not one 
        was of silver, for [silver]...
        was accounted as nothing in the 
        days of Solomon.”

    ✡   Riches, like multiplying horses 
        and chariots (tanks and planes) 
        for protection, are a poor sub-
        stitute for the security of 
        trusting in the LORD God!

    ✡   In I Timothy 6:6 through 10, Paul 
        warns about the lure of material 

          Now godliness with contentment 
          is great gain. For we brought 
          nothing into this world, and 
          it is certain we can carry 
          nothing out. And having food 
          and clothing, with these things 
          we shall be content. But those 
          who desire to be rich fall into 
          temptation and a snare, and in-
          to many foolish and harmful 
          lusts which drown men in des-
          truction and perdition. For the 
          love of money is the root of all 
          kinds of evil, for which some 
          have strayed from the faith in 
          their greediness, and pierced 
          themselves through with many 

Dear believer, be wise!

  • Do not follow the foolish actions of the wisest man in the world!
  • Follow Solomon’s wisdom when he wrote Proverbs 9:10 through 12:
      The fear of the LORD is the begin-
      ning of wisdom, and knowledge of 
      the Holy One is understanding. For 
      by Me your days shall be multi-
      plied, and the years of your life 
      shall be increased. If you are 
      wise, you shall be wise for your-
      self, but if you scorn, you alone 
      shall bear it.  

King Solomon’s Three Phases of Life – Part I

I Kings 3:5-9

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

King Solomon was the greatest, the richest, the wisest king in all history! He authored two complete books of the Old Testament and a good portion of a third: The Song of Songs; Proverbs; and Ecclesiastes. Each of these works from Solomon’s hand generally represents three major phases of his life as king of Israel:

  • Solomon as a young man…
  • Solomon in middle age, and…
  • Solomon as an older man.

Let’s begin by examining the first phase – Solomon as a young man, from The Song of Solomon.

  • This is the popular title by which this short book is known. According to verse 1 of chapter 1, it is also identified as, “The song of songs, which is Solomon’s.” It describes his romance with a beautiful young woman of Shulam, a village located about ten miles south of Nazareth.
    ✡   Was this his first love, perhaps 
        his first wife? We don’t know. What 
        we do know, according to I Kings 
        11:3, is that eventually “...he had 
        seven hundred wives...and three 
        hundred concubines...! 

    ✡   Was this romance before or after 
        he became king? Again, we don’t 
  • It is surmised that Solomon was between 15 and 25 years of age when he ascended the throne of Israel, just before his father David died at the age of 70 (see II Samuel 5:4).
    ✡   Being married and fathering a 
        child could happen at a very 
        young age among the kings of the 
        Bible, as well as the common 

        ➔   Ahaz, the wicked king of 
             Judah, became king at age 
             twenty, and reigned six-
             teen years (see II Kings 
             16:2; II Chronicles 28:1).

        ➔   Hezekiah, Ahaz’ son, upon 
             his father’s death, ascend-
             ed the throne of Judah at 
             age twenty-five (see II 
             Kings 18:2; II Chronicles 

        ➔   This means Ahaz was only 
             eleven years old when Hez-
             ekiah was born!

    ✡   The romance described in The Song 
        of Solomon was between a young man 
        and a young woman. So Solomon could 
        have been in his teens or twenties. 

Let’s consider another significant event that Solomon experienced in the first days of his kingship:

• Early in his reign, Solomon journeyed five miles northwest of Jerusalem “…to the great high place…[at] Gibeon [where he]…offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar….At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream…and…said, ‘Ask, what shall I give you?’” (I Kings 3:5). Solomon’s answer is our featured Scripture, from I Kings 3:7-9:

    “...O LORD my God, You have made Your 
    servant king instead of my father Da-
    vid, but I am a little child; I do not 
    know how to go out or come in. And Your 
    servant is in the midst of Your people 
    whom You have chosen, a great people, 
    too numerous to be numbered or counted. 
    Therefore give to Your servant an un-
    derstanding heart to judge Your people, 
    that I may discern between good and 
  • God’s answer in I Kings 3:11 through 14 is impressive:
    Then God said to him: “Because you have 
    asked this thing, and have not asked 
    long life for yourself, nor have asked 
    riches for yourself, nor have asked the 
    life of your enemies, but have asked 
    for yourself understanding to discern 
    justice, behold, I have done according 
    to your words; see, I have given you a 
    wise and understanding heart, so that 
    there has not been anyone like you be-
    fore you, nor shall any like you arise 
    after you. And I have also given you 
    what you have not asked: both riches 
    and honor, so that there shall not be 
    anyone like you among the kings all 
    your days. So if you walk in My ways, 
    to keep My statutes and My command-
    ments, as your father David walked, 
    then I will lengthen your days.”
  • The LORD’s gift of …a wise and understanding heart…was soon apparent! I will shorten the description of what happened because it covers thirteen verses in I Kings 3:16 through 28:
    ✡   Two women, living in the same 
        house, gave birth to baby boys 
        three days apart. But in her 
        sleep, one mother rolled on her 
        son and smothered him. So she 
        got up, stole the living baby 
        from his sleeping mother, and 
        laid the dead infant in its 

    ✡   They came before King Solomon, 
        each claiming the living infant 
        was hers!The king’s decision must have 
        shocked the two women and the 
        court spectators! Bring me a 
        sword....Divide the living 
        child in two, and give half to 

    ✡   But the real mother ...yearned 
        with compassion for her son; and 
        she said, ‘...give her the living 
        child, and by no means kill him!’ 
        But the other said, ‘...divide 

    ✡   “So the king said, ‘Give the first 
        woman the living child, and by no 
        means kill him; she is the mother.”

    ✡   “And all Israel heard of the judg-
        ment...and they feared the king, 
        for they saw that the wisdom of 
        God was in him....

Under Solomon’s rule and the LORD’s guidance, Israel blossomed into a powerful, peaceful, and wealthy kingdom! It was the most glorious time in history for the chosen people of God!

But it didn’t stay that way!

…and we will explore the middle phase of Solomon’s life, and how he squandered God’s laws and leading! My hope is that we, as New Testament believers, can take Solomon’s example and learn from it – living an obedient life that is pleasing to our God!

Complete Chaos…or Perfect Peace?

Isaiah 26:3 and 4

All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

There is a reason the chaos hit last week! I was scheduled by my local church youth leader to bring my testimony to the teens concerning how God got me out of major involvement with the occult (especially with spiritism – communication with the dead). This deliverance happened in June of 1969. Because young people especially seem to be drawn to the spiritual power of the occult, I have warned them of my own experience and the Lord’s miraculous deliverance. Having been a youth leader for over twenty years (now retired), I have had ample opportunities to bring my testimony to multiple youth groups.

  • Yes, there is power there in the dark side! The devil and his henchmen are formerly angelic beings. In their rebellion, they lost none of their power, but all of their goodness! But Satan’s power is the wrong kind! For Satan desires to pull people into darkness, away from God, and toward eternity in hell, forever separated from the loving Heavenly Father!
  • So in sharing my occultic experience and deliverance, I always hope to turn people away from Satan and unto the Lord God!

My scheduled testimony was this last Sunday evening. The youth group also invited any interested parents to attend the presentation. I was preparing myself by prayer, asking God to give me the words to say, and to properly draw the explanatory diagrams on a whiteboard I had made, large enough for all to see from anywhere in the church sanctuary. Then the chaos began……..

  • On Monday my printer broke!
I called Staples, where I had pur-
         chased the printer two years be-
         fore. I was told by one of their 
         tech specialists to take it to the 
         Asurion repair store (since the 
         printer was under an Asurion pro-
         tection plan). I was given the 
         address, but my GPS wouldn’t lead 
         me to the proper place (close, 
         but as they say, no cigar!). Even 
         the Fed Express delivery driver 
         couldn’t tell me where the store 
         was located!

    ➔   I finally found the store and went 
         in carrying my broken printer. The 
         tech in charge proceeded to tell 
         me, “We don’t service printers 
         here. We have no parts and no 
         training to fix them! I don’t 
         know why Staples would tell you 
         to come here!”

    ➔   Back to Staples! I was given the 
         number for Hewlett-Packard (man-
         ufacturer of the printer) and, 
         once I arrived home, I spent four 
         hours with an online tech who 
         tried, but couldn’t fix the print-
         er remotely! Finally she told me, 
         “Your printer is still under war-
         ranty. We will send you a new one, 
         no charge.” It arrived three days 
         later (Thursday) and it took ano-
         ther two hours to get it online 
         and working!
  • On Tuesday I found out my auto insurance was not paid! We had arrived home from vacation on August 3rd. But because my insurance was due on August 1st, I called my local agent and the secretary told me the quickest and least expensive way was to send my checking information over the phone, covering the cost of insurance for the next six months. She took the information and told me everything would be taken care of.
    ➔   Last Tuesday I checked my mid-
         month bank records and found out 
         the insurance amount was never 
         deducted from my checking account! 

    ➔   I called the main insurance com-
         pany office as well as the local 
         agency. There was no record of 
         payment! Apparently, the local 
         agency secretary had not turned 
         in my payment information! I had 
         missed the early payment discount 
         and now owed $220 more! No one at 
         the main office would adjust the 
         price, and the agency would not 
         admit to a non-submitted payment!I spent another seven hours try-
         ing to fix the mess, and five 
         more hours (so far) looking for 
         a reliable insurance company!
  • Wednesday came around and brought with it a failed water heater! So I spent almost $500 for a new 50-gallon water heater! Thank God I am handy and, with the help of my grandson, we installed the heater!
  • Thursday I was rear-ended by a driver who then sped away!
    ➔   At the next stoplight, I approach-
         ed the car, the driver’s side 
         window being partially down. I 
         politely addressed the female 
         driver, “It is a common courtesy 
         when you hit another vehicle that 
         you stop and see what damage has 
         been done, and exchange insurance 
         information!” The female driver 
         let me know, “I didn’t hit no-
         body!” And off she went.

    ➔   I had taken down the license plate 
         number and, with that information 
         called the police. The policeman 
         was sympathetic, but explained, 
         “A hit-and-run is a criminal of-
         fense, but we would have had to 
         be called to the scene. There is 
         nothing we can do after the fact.”

    ➔   Thankfully, the damage was slight, 
         only a broken taillight lens – 
         maybe a $25 part from a salvage 
         yard..........if I can find one 
         for a 2006 Chevy Uplander!

I have to admit I did not take all the chaos of last week in the way James 1:2 through 4 tells me how I should!My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

  • No, I did not scream at the dog or kick the cat! (We don’t have a cat, anyway.) But I was flustered and very upset! ……..until I remembered Isaiah 26:3 and 4: “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for in Jehovah, the Lord, is everlasting strength.
  • So I asked God to forgive me for becoming so upset! I asked Him to help me claim His perfect peace, settle me down, and get me ready to share my testimony Sunday evening.
  • He did! And I experienced His perfect peace!

The testimony went well. The youth and adults in attendance listened carefully. The youth leader afterward called for a time of prayer at the altar, and two or three young people came forward to pray. Other youth joined them to help and console the initial responders with any challenges they might be facing. One of the ‘helpers’ was Anna. As she got up to go back to her seat, I quietly called her name and asked her to sit beside me for a moment.

  • Anna is leaving on a nine-month mission trip, representing the Lord in four different countries. I quietly said, “Anna, you will find occultic practices, especially spiritism, much more prevalent than here in Georgia. Let me pray for you.
  • I took Anna’s hand in mine and asked the Lord to give her wisdom, strength, and spiritual power in her mission experience. It was a short prayer, but it meant a lot to me, and I hope to her. I told this young woman I would be praying daily for her.

All in all, it was a powerful evening, sharing my occultic experience and God’s deliverance! Yes, Satan did his demonic best to force me off-course! But God and His perfect peace prevailed!

At What Altar Are You Worshiping?

I Kings 18:22-39

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Here is our featured Scripture from I Kings 18:2 through 39 (edited and shortened; otherwise, it would take up more than a full page.)

    Then Elijah said to the people, “I a-
    lone am left a prophet of the Lord; but 
    Baal's prophets are four hundred and 
    fifty men....let them give us two 
    bulls; and let them choose one bull 
    for themselves, cut it in pieces, and 
    lay it on the wood, but put no fire 
    under it; and I will [likewise] pre-
    pare the other bull....Then you call 
    on the name of your gods, and I will 
    call on the name of the Lord; and the 
    God who answers by fire, He is God.” 
    So...the prophets of Baal...took the 
    bull which was given them, and they 
    prepared it, and called on...Baal from 
    morning...till noon, saying, “O Baal, 
    hear us!” But...no one answered....So 
    they cried aloud, and cut themselves 
    ...with knives...until the blood gushed 
    out....But...no one answered, no one 
    paid attention. Then Elijah said to all 
    the people, “Come near....” ...Then 
    with....twelve stones...[Elijah] built 
    an altar in the name of the Lord; and 
    he made a... large...trench around [it]
    ...put the wood in order, cut the bull 
    in pieces, and laid it on the wood, and 
    said, “Fill four waterpots with water, 
    and pour it on the burnt sacrifice and 
    on the wood.....Do it a second time....
    Do it a third time.” So the water ran 
    all around the altar; and filled the 
    trench....at the time of the...evening
    ...Elijah    [prayed], “Lord God...let 
    it be known...that You are God in Isra-
    el and I am Your servant....Hear me...
    that this people may know that You are 
    the Lord God, and that You have turned 
    their hearts back to You again.” Then 
    the fire of the Lord fell and consumed 
    the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and 
    the stones and the dust, and it licked 
    up the water that was in the trench
    ....Now when all the people saw it, 
    they fell on their faces; and they 
    said, “The Lord, He is God! The Lord, 
    He is God!”

There are many altars at which people may choose to worship! But it really comes down to only two choices, Baal, or the LORD God Almighty!

Baals were considered by the pagan peoples of Canaan to be their main gods. Here is how the entry in Eerdmans New Bible Dictionary describes “Baal”:

    The Hebrew word Ba’al means ‘master’, 
    ‘possessor’, or ‘husband’. When the 
    Israelites entered Canaan they found 
    every piece of land had its own deity, 
    its ‘owner’. There were thus many 
    ‘Baals’....The gods of individual lo-
    calities had appropriate surnames, 
    e.g. Baal-peor (Numbers 25:3). But 
    the word [Baal] gradually became a 
    proper name, to indicate the great 
    fertility god of the Canaanites....
    The Baal cults affected and challeng-
    ed the worship of Yahweh throughout 
    Israelite history. The incident on 
    Mount Carmel [the one involving Eli-
    jah described above] was the out-
    standing battle between [the LORD 
    God and Baal]....the particular Baal 
    favored by Ahab [the wicked king of 
    Judah in the time of the prophet 
    Elijah] was Melqart, the seat of 
    whose worship was at Tyre, Jezebel’s 
    home [she was the evil wife of King 
  • The LORD God Almighty is…
...the Creator of heaven and 
        earth, and all things, includ-
        ing human beings, upon the 
        earth! (see Genesis 1, 2).

    ✡   ...the Redeemer of His people 
        Israel! (see Exodus 7-12).

    ✡   ...above all other gods! (see 
        Psalm 95:3).

    ✞   ...the One who deserves all...
        blessing and glory and wisdom and 
        praise and honor and power and 
        strength be given to our God for 
        ever and ever...! (see Revelation 
        7:12 – Bible in Basic English).

    ✞   ...He who sent His Son to be the 
        Savior of the world! (see John 

    ✞   ...revealed as the Triune God! 
        (see I John 5:7).

    ✞   ...the only One to be worshiped! 
        (see Revelation 19:10).

Now, I doubt anyone reading this Gem worships the Baal gods of the ancient world! However, the challenge and choice that the prophet Elijah issued to the people of Israel so long ago still stands: “If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” (I Kings 18:21). But you will find that if you choose to worship at the altar of anyone or anything other than the Lord God of the Bible, you will face disappointment, disillusion, despair, damnation, and ultimate and eternal destruction! But if you sincerely worship at the altar of the One true God, you will experience what David wrote about in Psalm 16:11:

You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fulness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.