We Aim to Please

So the king of Israel brought together the prophets—about four hundred men—and asked them, “Shall I go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?”
“Go,” they answered, “for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.”
But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there not a prophet of the LORD here whom we can inquire of?”
1 Kings 22:6-7

Jehoshaphat knew men and their tendencies to avoid telling those in power the truth, especially if it meant telling the King that he might die! Put yourselves in their place: would you like to be the bearer of bad news to a king who could take your life within seconds after you told him? Not many would. It is apparent that these so-called prophets were not prophets of the Lord. It seems that Jehoshaphat and Ahab knew that a true prophet would prophesy bad things against the two kings and their nations. In short, the prophets would tell the truth regardless of the consequences to their own lives. Because the prophets were not true prophets, they were only saying what would have been pleasing to the Kings.

The prophets of the Lord obviously had a good reputation throughout the kingdom. That reputation is built over time and circumstance. You don’t need to broadcast your reputation; your reputation speaks for itself.

How’s your reputation in the community? How is it at work or at your PTA or even in your church? What do others say about you? Do they think highly of you? Ultimately, though, what God thinks of us in infinitely more important that what others think of us. It doesn’t mean we should be obnoxious and condescending and rude, but it does put things into perspective. God, who loves us infinitely and unconditionally, is the one we should be trying to please because of what He’s done for us. We aim to please not as a means of gaining heaven or more stature in God’s eyes, but out of devotion and love for our Saviour.

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Naboth’s Vineyard

So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, placed his seal on them, and sent them to the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth’s city with him. In those letters she wrote:
“Proclaim a day of fasting and seat Naboth in a prominent place among the people. But seat two scoundrels opposite him and have them testify that he has cursed both God and the king. Then take him out and stone him to death.”
1 Kings 21:8-10

Jezebel is a classic example of someone who should never receive power. She’s ruthless, dishonest, and downright mean. But, unfortunately, many leaders like Jezebel rise to the top because they will do whatever it takes to get to the top, even if it means stepping on others to get there. She’s not humble; she’s not wise; but she is shrewd and cunning. If you ever, ever see someone like her in power, run far away from that person.

But there is an alternative: prayer. Pray for that person. Pray that that person will shine a mirror into their own eyes and reveal the “ugliness” that ruthlessness can give you.

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The Truth May Land You In Prison

The king of Israel then ordered, “Take Micaiah and send him back to Amon the ruler of the city and to Joash the king’s son and say, ‘This is what the king says: Put this fellow in prison and give him nothing but bread and water until I return safely.’ ”

Micaiah declared, “If you ever return safely, the LORD has not spoken through me.” Then he added, “Mark my words, all you people!” 1 Kings 22:26-28

Ahab obviously didn’t appreciate Micaiah’s prophecy against him so he threw him in jail (even though Micaiah was warned to tell the truth). Truth is a rare commodity these days. People who are in sin do not like to hear truth spoken to them. And yet, if we’re not careful we can slip into little lies and fibs in the things we do.

We’re entering a time of life that truth will be regarded as dangerous. I know that sounds absurd. If everyone around you is lying and you come in and are a straight shooter with the truth, you will get noticed quickly. Look at the truth that Jesus revealed daily. What was the Pharisees’ reaction? Let’s stone him; you’re insane; you’re nuts!

All that to say this: every body may not appreciate the truth, but you still have to tell it. There are ways to temper the way you share it, but ultimately you’ll need to tell the truth. And the truth may cost you. Are we willing to pay the price of imprisonment or ill treatment? Certainly the truth will set you free, but often there’s occasionally a price tag associated with that freedom.

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Praying for Humility in Our Leaders

Some time later there was an incident involving a vineyard belonging to Naboth the Jezreelite. The vineyard was in Jezreel, close to the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. Ahab said to Naboth, “Let me have your vineyard to use for a vegetable garden, since it is close to my palace. In exchange I will give you a better vineyard or, if you prefer, I will pay you whatever it is worth.”
But Naboth replied, “The LORD forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.”
So Ahab went home, sullen and angry because Naboth the Jezreelite had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.” He lay on his bed sulking and refused to eat.
His wife Jezebel came in and asked him, “Why are you so sullen? Why won’t you eat?”
He answered her, “Because I said to Naboth the Jezreelite, ‘Sell me your vineyard; or if you prefer, I will give you another vineyard in its place.’ But he said, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’ ”
Jezebel his wife said, “Is this how you act as king over Israel? Get up and eat! Cheer up. I’ll get you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”
1 Kings 21:1-7

I have wondered about this passage occasionally. Why didn’t Ahab just take the vineyard? As king, he could have done it and no one would have questioned it. At the very least, he could have thrown a reasonable amount of money at Naboth, then taken the land. Instead he asked for it and Naboth refused to hand it over. Then Ahab went home and poured out his woes to Jezebel at her insistence. It’s no surprise that she took charge of the situation. To the unethical, conniving Jezebel, it wasn’t a problem.

A number of years ago, I heard a journalist refer to a President like this: “good man, wrong job.” In other words, the man is good.but the job doesn’t fit the man. That’s seems to be what’s happening here. A little later in the passage, God praises Ahab for humbling himself before the Lord. Ahab clearly seems out of place as King. On the other hand, Jezebel seems out of place too but for different reasons. They say that the best leaders are those who don’t seek the position. They’re reluctant to assume power and responsibility, mainly because they know that power can corrupt quickly.

Pray for the leaders of your nation. Pray, that they, like Ahab, will humble themselves before the Lord. Pray also that the Lord will burden you to pray regularly for that person.

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Power of God

There was never a man like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the LORD, urged on by Jezebel his wife. He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols, like the Amorites the LORD drove out before Israel.
When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted. He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly.

Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite: “Have you noticed how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself, I will not bring this disaster in his day, but I will bring it on his house in the days of his son.” 1 Kings 21:25-29

In verse 25, the Lord describes Ahab as an evil man, urged on by his wife Jezebel. A few verses later, Ahab had repented and humbled himself before God. Ahab had heard the world of God and, like Beh-Hadad, was fearful, but it was a healthy fear.

God saw the sincerity in Ahab and delayed the disaster that would all on him. Always remember that a changed life is evidence that God is still moving. God moved on Ahab back then, and He still moves today. Sometimes it’s as obvious a change as what happened to Ahab, but often it is not. Ahab, as King of Israel, was influential and important. When he snapped his fingers, a small army of men and women would cater to his needs.

Most often the change comes about in the life of a “nobody,” an unknown. But those unknowns can still change the world. Don’t pray that the influential and risk and famous come to Christ, but pray that men and women seeking after God will come to Christ. Never underestimate the power of God in the life of any of His believers.

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