Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Respecting God's Favor

Respecting God’s Favor

Summary of 2 Kings 18-20 – Life of King Hezekiah

Hezekiah became king of Judea and he was a godly king; reestablishing righteousness in the land. The king of Assyria came against the northern kingdom of Israel and subdued it. This was a judgment from God because they did not try to live holy under the Law of Moses. Then the king of Assyria brought his army down to attack Judea. Hezekiah, knowing he was vastly outnumbered, gave into the king of Assyria and payed a heavy ransom not to be attacked. (Evidently this was not good enough and the Assyrian army marched to the gates of Jerusalem.) The Assyrian king’s representative read aloud threats to the people of Jerusalem, warning them not to trust in King Hezekiah to deliver them from the hand of the king of Assyria. In their threat they announced to the people on the wall, the God of Israel will not save you.

King Hezekiah done what was right and ask the prophet Isaiah to plead with the Lord for mercy. Isaiah enquired of the Lord and assurance was given that the Assyrian army would turn back. Still the Assyrian king’s messenger threatened Judea with a letter directly to King Hezekiah. Hezekiah took the letter to the Temple and laid it before the Lord praying for mercy. Isaiah returns with assurance that Assyria will turn back and not attack Jerusalem. (This happened, the Assyrian army turned back.)

King Hezekiah became deathly sick. Then Isaiah the prophet, went to him and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die, and not live.’ ” 2 Then he turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the Lord, saying, 3 “Remember now, O Lord, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done what was good in Your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly. 4 And it happened, before Isaiah had gone out into the middle court, that the word of the Lord came to him, saying, 5 “Return and tell Hezekiah the leader of My people, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord. 6 And I will add to your days fifteen years. I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for My own sake, and for the sake of My servant David.” ’ ” 2 Kings 20:2-6

Then Hezekiah ask for a confirmation. The Lord answered by moving the Sun dial 10 degrees forward.

Then the King of Babylon sent emissaries to Hezekiah to enquire of his success. Hezekiah boastfully showed-off to the Babylonian emissaries all his wealth and treasures. Isaiah came with a word from the Lord basically saying; The treasure you have shown to the king of Babylon will one day be plundered and taken to Babylon and your sons will be taken to serve the King of Babylon, but not you.

Hezekiah’s response: So Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the Lord which you have spoken is good!” For he said, “Will there not be peace and truth at least in my days?” 2 Kings 20:19

What We Should Learn

Hezekiah was truly a great king of Judah and he used his governing power to turn a decayed and disrespectful culture back to righteousness. But there was a selfish root in him. He did not respect the favor that was extended to him, especially toward his offspring.

This selfishness he displayed at the end really made me start to think. What is our attitude toward the good things and obvious favors God shows to us.

Personalizing this Story

The main reason I went back to read the story of Hezekiah again was because of my present situation. I have been diagnosed to have Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) often called Lou Gehrig’s disease. ALS is a progressive disease, which means it gets worse over time. It affects nerves in your brain and spinal cord that control your muscles. As your muscles get weaker, it gets harder for you to walk, talk, eat, and breathe.

I am so grateful to have many Christian friends that have shown their concerns for me with their prayers. Many times, in their prayers over me they have ask the Lord to give me fifteen more years like he gave King Hezekiah. There is no doubt in my mind that the Lord could truly extend this grace to me. So, after reading Hezekiah’s story, I must ask myself what my proper response should be?

From the story, after he was granted more years to live, Hezekiah made two blunders. When the delegation came from Babylon to enquire of his great governing success, he did not give God the proper glory for his success. Rather he was boastful of his great riches. Then when he was assured of the final judgment set forth for Judah, he was unconcerned because it would only affect his sons.

So, what the Lord spoke to me was, “Jerry you must learn and properly walk in the favors extend to you from the Lord.”

I look back over my life and I see favor after favor after favor from the Lord. He has been so good to me. But I see many times I have misused those blessings. As I write this, it makes me sad. All I can hope for is that I learn from those mistakes and do my best to be more grateful in the future.

Let me clarify my beliefs concerning God’s favor. We are all sinners separated from God. Jesus once and for all took our sins to the cross where He paid the ultimate sacrifice. Once we consciously accept that free gift we no longer have to work for our salvation. Then as we are enlightened as to how-to walk-in righteousness then we are responsible to do so. And when we do walk in righteousness, God takes notice and extends favors and rewards toward us. Also, He releases responsibilities to us that He can trust us with. Life is more enjoyable and more productive.


The scribe who wrote out the acts of King Hezekiah in 2 Chronicles, says Hezekiah humbles himself but was tested by God through the visit from the Babylonians.

24 In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death, and he prayed to the Lord; and He spoke to him and gave him a sign. 25 But Hezekiah did not repay according to the favor shown him, for his heart was lifted up; therefore wrath was looming over him and over Judah and Jerusalem. 26 Then Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the Lord did not come upon them in the days of Hezekiah. … 31 However, regarding the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, whom they sent to him to inquire about the wonder that was done in the land, God withdrew from him, in order to test him, that He might know all that was in his heart.

James 1: 2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces [a]patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be [b]perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020


 Remember, God Heals

I am in the U.S. for some medical assessment of health problems I am having.

The major thing was that the neurology specialist said that my muscle loss looks like Lou Garett’s Disease (ALS). No cure, so that was bad news.

In Croatia there was a misdiagnosis that I had a pinched nerve and I would need surgery or therapy. When told we would need to wait a long time before surgery could even happen we decided to come to America for the procedures.

In regard to this bad news I have two remembrances from my heart being healed in 2014. First, I was misdiagnosis as having pneumonia back then but it ended up to be an enlarged heart. Second, the doctors said it would never heal. Once an enlarged heart it never heals. They told me I could live with that heart condition but would need to remain on medication. I remember the main downside was lack of strength. I had many conversations with the Lord about this but promised Him I would serve Him even in my lack of strength. I would do what I could do with the strength I had.

So, two things: misdiagnosis and an incurable heart condition.

We had just moved to Zagreb and knew God had sent us. So Zuzanna and I went about with our ministry duties with European Initiative, whom we were working with at the time. One of our duties was to meet with pastors in the city to enlist their aid in outreaches. God gave us great favor with the pastors, and we were even invited to their monthly pastor’s meeting. Of course, the subject always came up about my heart condition.

The final diagnosis on my heart was in February 2014. Because of the great favor God has given us, people all over the world was praying for me, even these pastors in Croatia.

Then in July of 2014, the Spirit-filled or Brongajci group of churches in Croatia met on a mountain in Lika for the purpose of praying for that area of Croatia. Lika is an area in lower/central Croatia that has no evangelical churches. So Zuzanna and I went. Now with my lack of strength I could not make it to the top of the mountain where the prayer was being held. So, I went back to the car and just prayed on my own.

I knew something really important was happening in the spirit because the most furious storm I have ever seen in Croatia came. They had to pack up the meeting and come off the mountain. It was as if the enemy was striking back with all the force he could display.

So, we went back home to Zagreb. Something started happening to me. My strength started returning. We were living on the 3rd floor of a building and I had trouble making it up the stairs. But now I could walk up the stairs without having to stop halfway to regain my energy. Before, when we would go walking in the city, I would have to find places to sit and regain strength, but now I could just keep walking. I told Zuzanna, I am healed and wanted to stop taking the medications. Of course, she said “no way.” In the first week of August I had an appointment with the heart doctor to see how I was doing. I told Zuzanna, “He will tell me I am healed”.

So, we went to the appointment and sure enough, the doctor freaked out. He could not believe it. In his broken English, he said. “We don’t see this here, but you have the heart of a normal man.” Zuzanna ask him again to repeat what he said. We knew God had done a miracle and the prayers of many had been answered.

Although this ALS sounds bad, I have a remembrance of the Lord’s healing power.

Psalm 103:2-3 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,

I do want to thank you for your prayers. The work in the Balkans is not finished.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Little Flock

"Little Flock"

Luke 12:32 Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

“Little Flock”, so interesting that Jesus would call us that. Some say He was just speaking to the disciples that was with Him at that time but the teaching was shared by Luke for us today.

This message Jesus is teaching here is mainly about, “why worry, your Father in heaven promises to take care of you”, but “little flock” spoke to me. Often, I have watched as birds flock together. They stick together. They move as one. In observing them, you would say they are of one mind. The Father has put within them this group-think instinct. Each bird must be thinking and reacting to the birds next to them. They seem to know the intents of the whole flock. They are like a kingdom that perfectly flows together.

In a flock of birds, you do not see one bird leading all the others. They function like a kingdom with no king. God is the unseen king. Relating this to a church, it is like they have no bird pastor or pope.

Matthew 6:26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they.

What would ministry be like if we, as God’s people, could function like a flock of birds? As church members, what if we were so in tune with the Father that we needed no overseer? We would all just know our giftings and would be intently listening for the Holy Spirit to move us in the greater good of the kingdom.

In reality, we are more like a flock of sheep.

Now sheep are accused of being dumb. They walk into danger not even sensing the danger. God has designed them in such a way that they need a shepherd. They need a higher intelligence to keep them in the flock. Sheep do have a worthy gift; they know their shepherd’s voice and they follow. With our human failings, we need an overseer. God has ordained overseers.

John 10:27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

Let me see what kind of lessons I can learn from this. May be we fit somewhere between the characteristics of birds and sheep.

First, to function as a Christian in the Kingdom, we are to be like sheep having a leader, pastor, priest, etc. Someone who stands responsible to oversee the direction of our lives and lovingly inspires us to function in our giftings. We just do not have that instinct that automatically responds to God.

Psalm 100:3 Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Submission to a loving Father is so important. We are designed to be much more intelligent than birds and sheep. Basically, God told Adam he had dominion over all the other creatures. We are to manage this world were God’s innocent animals freely roam.

Least I get into dominion theology, I really want to explore submission.

Our submission to the Lord is to be neither bird like instinct nor sheepish surrender. God has endowed us with intellect to make choices that develop us into responsible coworkers with Him.
Instinct is a very useful tool for preservation, but God did not plan for us to mindlessly flow through life with no clearly defined responsibilities. God warns us about worry/fear and how it can derail a peaceful kingdom life. We do need a healthy respect and assurance of His care for us like the birds are blessed to have.

Neither are we to mindlessly live life as a sheep being led from pasture to pasture. We do need that sheepish sensitivity to the Shepherd/Father’s voice so we can know why we go from pasture to pasture.

I have learned over these many years of walking with the Lord, submission to His will is where peace and happiness are really found. God wants coworkers that recognize His way is best. This may sound robotic but God’s design for us is not anything like that. We are in no way clones but rather each individually made with distinct characteristics to fulfill distinct task especially assigned to us. We each have a special relationship with our Creator. Therefore, our submission takes on a divine domination that affords us a special relationship with God and His eternal purposes. We are the happiest when we know and flow in His plans.

So, know this, He has especially designed you to have a special roll in His divine design. Church is when we flock together for His pleasure.