New Identity: Be like God

Ephesians 4

Caitie has been writing all week on our identity in Christ, but as a busy Bible College student she needs the day off to concentrate on her other Bible responsibilities. She’ll be back tomorrow to finish off her series.

Today, let’s look at Ephesians 4 with an eye for who we are created to be – and a little bit of who we are NOT created to be. We don’t have to go far to start creating our list. In verse 1 Paul reminds us he is a prisoner – not an identity we usually strive for – but he wears it rather proudly as a prisoner for the Lord. We must remember to not seek to fit in with what the world may tell us is good and proper and respectable – but what GOD says. Are we living worthy of the calling we have received from God? Even if it puts us in a position that the world doesn’t commend?

What does He call us to be? COMPLETELY humble, gentle, patient, bearing with one another in love (4:2), making EVERY effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace (4:3). In other words – be nice. Put away prideful, rough and rude, easily irritated selfishness. There is no place for it in the church family. In any group or partnership made up of individuals it is easy to have the individual needs, wishes, personalities, selfish desires dominate. And, pretty soon, people aren’t playing nice. Paul reminds us of all the things we have in common with the other members of the body of Christ. ONE body, ONE Spirit, ONE Hope, ONE Lord, ONE faith, ONE baptism, ONE God and Father of all, and that God is the biggest and the best – remember that! (4:4-6). All on the same team – the BEST team. Don’t destroy yourself. You, the church, are ONE body – take care of it.

You all have different roles to play: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, etc… Don’t neglect yours. Do it the best you can, and appreciate others who are doing their role. Only when we are working together can we create a healthy, growing, maturing body becoming more and more like Christ. (4:11-13)

Wisdom will be needed. We don’t want to stay babes in the faith who are easily led astray. It will take work and wisdom to grow up. Beware of men and women (in and out of the church) who do not speak the things of Christ. Don’t let yourself, or your brothers and sisters, be deceived. Search for God’s truth. Know the truth – and share it – in a loving manner. “Speaking the truth in love.” (4:15).

Remember to ALWAYS keep Christ as the Head. It’s not about you – it’s about Jesus. Keep his mission, his vision, his voice, his dedication, his words, his wisdom, his passion, his love for God and others, his focus foremost. That’s the only way to be a church that brings glory to God. Keep God’s beloved Son as the Head. Do your part, support the other parts, and keep Christ as the Head. (4:15,16)

You will be surrounded by worldly people engaging in worldly ways. That is NOT who you are to be. Put off the old self with its wicked ways. Be the new person you were meant to be. Your new self was, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:24) That’s huge! My new identity is to be LIKE GOD! First we were told to be nice. Then we were told to keep Christ as our Head. NOW, we are told that our new identity is to be LIKE GOD. Not to be like God in His supreme power, majesty and sovereignty. We are not expected to become all-knowing and all-powerful like the Creator. We are told our new self was created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Do what God says is right and set yourself apart from the world. How’s our righteousness and holiness looking today? What tweaks – or major construction projects – can you and I begin today to become more and more Godly – by doing the right thing and by being set apart from the world?

Paul gives some suggestions.

Is there an area where we need to practice being more truthful to our neighbor (perhaps even to save their life)? Do it. Become more like God and more set apart from this world.

Is there an area where your anger is controlling you and leading you to sin? Stop giving the devil a foothold. Become more like God and more set apart from this world.

Is there an area where we need to replace harmful habits and lifestyles with time and energy spent doing good to benefit others? Stop leaving the work for others. Get busy helping others. Become more like God and more set apart from this world.

Are there times when our mouths (and hearts) are full of unwholesome talk: put-downs, complaining, lies, swearing, negativity, coarse joking, or slander? What do we do and say that saddens God’s Holy Spirit? Stop it! Get rid of it! Replace it! Be nice. Be kind. Be compassionate. Forgive. Because you have also been forgiven. Become more like God and more set apart from this world.

“Put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:24)

-Marcia Railton

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading passages at Bible Gateway here – Isaiah 1-2 (what can you find referring to the old and new self in Isaiah 1?) and Ephesians 4

Overcoming evil with good

Reading for today:

Ezra 5-6 … 1 Corinthians 4

We’re going to hop away from Ezra and the daily readings for a minute here today and turn our focus to the theme passages that the FUEL youth campers will be examining.

I heard once that whenever we read the phrase ‘the flesh’ in Scripture we can plug in ‘what comes naturally’ in its place. So when we read in Galatians that, “the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit” … that makes a lot of sense. What comes naturally to us often (usually, almost always) involves what is contrary to what God’s way is.

For example, Paul gives us this long list of things in Romans 12, that pretty much all fall into that category:

Love must be sincere. 
Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
 
Be devoted to one another in love. 
Honor one another above yourselves. 
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 
Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.Live in harmony with one another. 
Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. 
Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.
 
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:9-21

When you read that list, which ones jump out at you? Which ones most fit that description of not coming naturally to you?

Honor one another above yourself. All of us struggle with selfishness at times, but maybe you really have a difficult time setting your own needs aside. Maybe you would put others first, but you don’t notice their needs. 

Never be lacking in zeal—keep your spiritual fervor.  Is apathy your go to? Are you difficult to motivate? Maybe you just feel kind of … blah… about spiritual things.

Don’t be proud. Pride is a tricky one, and one that trips up a lot of people. Enough that Paul reiterates his instruction again with ‘Do not be conceited.’ Was he writing to you? Do you care more about what people think than what God thinks?

Maybe it’s as basic as hating what is evil. That sounds like it should be a simple one, but the fact is that evil is often attractive. Perhaps you know that you are drawn to things you know God would not want for you.

The answer to all of these is not to try harder, by the way. Christianity is not about behavior modification. That’s why Paul ends with this, “…overcome evil with good.”

Again—sounds simple, and it is. But that doesn’t mean that it’s easy. Because it’s not.

Starting with a prayer asking God to change your heart toward those things that come naturally to you is a good place to start. I tend to believe these are prayers he loves to answer.

Our hearts and our minds are where everything begins. The way that we think will always affect the way we live our life. Always. And if our thoughts are rooted in a lie (even if we don’t know it) we’ll live like it is true.

Think about this. Imagine you are in a room and your friend, who is outside the room, tells you the door is locked. You try the handle and it is indeed locked. So, you go sit down and spend the day sitting in the room, assuming it’s locked all day, never trying the handle again. All the while, the door is actually unlocked because your friend unlocked it right after you tried the handle. You lived like the lie was true.

If you live like a lie is true, it is true for you. Unfortunately, much of the time we don’t even know we are believing a lie. What we do know is that we struggle with pride, or that we are drawn to things we know God says are evil, or that our life just feels like it’s falling apart.

Hidden lies are hard to identify. Problems are easy to identify. That’s why we start there. Start with the problem and backtrack to find the lie.

If you didn’t read yesterday’s devotion, go back and do that…it has some suggestions to help root out lies, and a book that has some great resources to help you with this as well.

I’m encouraged by the end of the Galatians verse, where Paul says, “They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.”  What he doesn’t say is that we should somehow expect to magically stop wanting what comes naturally to us (the flesh). What he does say is that we can learn to control our desires, we can overcome them.

I have heard recovering alcoholics say that “Sobriety is never owned, it’s rented. And rent is due every day.” Overcoming desires that come naturally to us is a battle that we must take up daily. The battle gets easier over time, and with help… but be clear: as long as we are walking in a body of flesh, the desires of our flesh will war against us.

And in case that makes you want to lay down and give up, remember that you’re not in this battle alone. Stay tuned tomorrow to find out about the kind of power you have on your side.

-Susan Landry

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Ezra 5-6 and 1 Corinthians 4

Uzziah and I

2 Chronicles 25-26 and Romans 12

Good ol’ King Uzziah.  We’re told that he had a lot of livestock, and people working his fields and vineyards, for he loved the soil.  I can relate, because I too love the soil.  I have animals, an orchard, a garden, and am working on a vineyard.  Hey, here’s a guy I can identify with.

In 2 Chronicles 26:5, We read that king Uzziah, “… sought God during the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God.  As long as he sought the Lord, God gave him success.”

Nice, I’m trying to follow God too, and God is giving me success.  I’m still tracking with Uzziah.  I like this guy.

We see in 2 Chronicles 26: 15 that “his fame spread far and wide, for he was greatly helped until he became powerful.”  Well, I wouldn’t say this is true of me quite yet, but maybe, given enough time…  maybe?

Then in verse 16, we read, “But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall.  He was unfaithful to the Lord his God…”  No!  He had everything going for him.  Life was good.  Why did he blow it by turning away from God?  And he was so much like me, too.  I could relate to this guy.  What happened?

But that’s the problem.  All of us are in danger of being a lot like Uzziah, too.  All of us need to be careful that we don’t fall, regardless of how strong of a Christian we perceive ourselves.  I’m reminded of Hebrews 3: 12-13, which says, “See to it brothers, that no one of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.  But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

And this ties into the Romans 12 reading for today.  Romans 12:1-2 says, “I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Here we find the answer.  In Romans 12:1, we have to surrender our body to God.  And this means once and for all.  This is the right response 1) because of all that God has done for us (in view of God’s mercy), and 2) because it is the way we really worship God.

Then, in verse 2, we have to surrender our mind to Him.  The word here is metamorphosis, like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly.  It is a total and complete transformation, and there is no going back.  Only once we have surrendered our body and mind to God, God will transform our will, to make us want to live for him.  

And this is the only way we can avoid becoming another Uzziah.

So, now go build your crystalis and start your transformation.  Get into God’s word, pray, and emerge changed.


–Steve Mattison

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 2 Chronicles 25-26 and Romans 12

Who Do You Listen To?

2 Chronicles 23-24

From yesterday’s reading, we learned that a baby named Joash was hidden when his grandmother attempted to wipe out the whole royal line, so she could rule unopposed.  Joash was abducted by his aunt, and her husband, Johoiada, the high priest.  (The fact that his aunt was godly, coming from such a wicked family is nothing short of miraculous.)  Joash was hidden in the temple for 7 years.  (What better place to hide someone from the wicked queen, Athaliah?  She would never go there!)

When Joash was 7, Jehoiada arranged for Joash to be crowned king, and had Athaliah killed.  We’re told in 2 Chronicles 24:3, “Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the years of Jehoiada the priest.”  Jehoiada chose two godly wives for Joash.  Joash also commanded that God’s temple be repaired.  Because of this, many people consider Joash a godly king.  

When Jehoiada died, he was buried with the kings because of all the good he had done for God and his temple.  I wish the story stopped here, but it doesn’t.  After Joash’s godly mentor died, he listened to the officials of Judah, and abandoned the God of their fathers to worship Asherah poles and idols.  God sent prophets, but the king wouldn’t listen.  Joash even killed Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada (who had raised Joash).

As punishment, God sent Aram raiders to plunder Judah.  We’re told in 2 Chronicles 24:24, “Although the Aramean army had come with only a few men, the Lord delivered into their hands a much larger army because Judah had forsaken the Lord …)  

Joash was wounded in the battle, and some of his own officials conspired to kill Joash for murdering the son of Jehoiada.  Joash was not buried with the kings because of the evil he had done.

In this story, we see an example of someone who started out zealously serving the Lord.  As long as his godly mentor was there to remind him to follow God, he did follow God.  Once that godly influence was dead, Joash was enticed away from God through peer pressure. His life was a downward spiral after that, then he died.

This highlights the importance of surrounding ourselves with godly mentors and godly friends.  It’s so easy to be enticed away from God.  I picture sin sort of like an addiction.  Every one of us should think of ourselves as needing to join a program so we do not relapse.  Every one of us can say, “Hi, I’m Steve (substitute your name here), and I have a problem.”  We need godly friends to hold us accountable to live for God.  And we have to be vigilant ourselves.

If we’re surrounded by worldly friends, we will almost certainly crash and burn like Joash.

I’d like to encourage you to think about each of your close friends, and think about how each of them is helping you draw closer to God or is drawing you away from God.  And while you’re at it, how are you influencing your friends?

I understand that if someone has an addiction, one important step in the recovery process is to cut ties with old friends who would cause you to relapse.  After all, if they cause you to relapse, they are helping destroy you, so are they really a friend?

I’ll close with James 4:4, which says, “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”

-Steve Mattison

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 2 Chronicles 23-24 and Romans 11

Consider Your Allies

2 Chronicles 19-20 & Romans 9

When your life is over, how would you like to be remembered? After ruling over the Kingdom of Judah for 25 years, it was written that Jehoshaphat “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.” As we have learned, the king was not perfect, but he set his heart on seeking God. He went out and turned people back to the Lord. He appointed judges and setup a judicial system based on God’s Law. He also humbly sought God’s deliverance against a vast army. God delivered the King and his people. It would be great if that were the end of the story. The King was good-the end. But no, in the truthfulness of the scriptures we find out a huge blunder made by Jehoshaphat near the end of his life. He once again makes an alliance with another wicked king of Israel. This time he agreed to construct a fleet of trading ships. Of course, the ships were wrecked and these trading ships were never used.

From Jehoshaphat’s example, we should realize that it is so important that we use godly discernment in forming our relationships with others. Paul the apostle’s warning is “Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.” (1 Corinthians 15:33) We want to influence others for good and to show them the way to God. We never want them to adversely affect our relationship with God. It is easy to pick up habits and behaviors from our social group, but we are to be imitators of the Lord. Our relationship with God and Christ should be the most important relationship in our lives. May you be blessed as you read the scriptures and spend time with our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

-Rebecca Dauksas

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at Bible Gateway here – 2 Chronicles 19-20 and Romans 9

Wages and Gifts

Romans 6

When I was a child, I had the chance to make some extra money in the summer. About 8-10 of us would work in the fields around our neighborhood. It was hard work in the hot summer sun and our wage was .50 an hour. Some of the older kids made a dollar an hour. No, we didn’t care about minimum wage laws, because we received a bonus of a free soft drink after a couple of hours of work in the fields. That was exhausting work in the heat, but at the end of the day we received our wages. Our wages were exactly what we earned and deserved. We knew ahead of time what we would be paid for our work.

I was reminded of this by today’s reading. The first part of Romans 6:23 states, “For the wages of sin is death.” We understand that sin means missing the mark. It is from a Greek archery term meaning to miss the bulls-eye. Everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We all realize that we deserve punishment for our sin, but living in a life of sin can deceive us. When we open ourselves to sin, we start believing the lies. We justify and reason away our wrong behavior.  Remind you of some kings we have been reading about? We read their stories, and say to ourselves, “What are you doing? Just stick with God. He will deliver your nation like He has done before.” God would give the kings victory and peace, but they forsook Him because of sin and pride.

 We know that sin leads to death, so let’s make a commitment to a life that is interwoven with God. When we are close to God, we are going in the right direction and following His commands. We are experiencing His love and blessings every day.

The rest of Romans 6:23 continues “but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Thank you God for this gift!

-Rebecca Dauksas

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 2 Chronicles 13-14 and Romans 6

Freedom

2 Chronicles  7-8

Today we celebrate the many freedoms that we have in our country. We are so blessed to live in a country that allows us to worship God and so freely profess our belief in Christ. The scriptures explain that through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free. We are also free from the law of sin and death. (Rom. 8)

From the beginning, God has given human beings freedom in the form of free will. He allows us to choose. We can choose to follow Him and His Son or we can reject them because we want to go our own way. It is so clear to see this choice when it is placed before the people in the scriptures. Their own evil desires will result in sin and death or they can follow God as He leads them and others to life. Life that is described as abundant and everlasting.

Solomon had been making some great choices for God. He was honoring Him. God’s temple was being dedicated and Solomon was using his influence for good. As always when people draw near to God, He draws near to them. God assures them that He is there with fire from heaven and His glory filling the temple. The people praise the LORD by saying, “He is good; His love endures forever.” After this the LORD even appears to Solomon. God presents a choice that Solomon has to personally make. Solomon can walk before the LORD faithfully following everything that God commanded or reject God by doing his own thing.

Unfortunately, as Solomon’s life unfolds, he begins breaking the laws that he was given. One by one he breaks the few laws that he was asked to follow as the king. He continues following some of God’s laws while ignoring others. His heart was led astray, just as the LORD told him it would be.

Solomon had wealth, fame, power, and wisdom, but none of that mattered because he allowed people and things to replace his love for God. Let’s examine our own hearts today and freely give them completely to our God. We know that “He is good; His love endures forever.”

-Rebecca Dauksas

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 2 Chronicles 7-8 and Romans 3

A Captive in Sin

2 Chronicles 5-6

As much as I could go on and on repeating exactly what Paul says in Romans 2, I have much more to add and apply from the Chronicles passage, so focus your reading on those chapters. Mostly, I’ll be looking at chapter 6. Solomon has just built the amazing perfect temple that David definitely did not build (even if he prepared all the materials, drew the blueprints, and basically left only the annoying part of building a building to Solomon). And in chapter 6, Solomon is dedicating this temple to God. Take a look at verse 14, the opening of Solomon’s prayer where he addresses God. Notice, there’s almost a lesson in that God’s faithfulness is kept with those who “walk before [Him] with all their heart.” Of course, Deuteronomy 6:5 says more and Jesus even more of how much of you should be dedicated to God on a daily basis (hint: it’s literally all of who and what you are, Mark 12:28-31). But I mostly want to look at verses 36-39.

36 “When they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—and you become angry with them and give them over to the enemy, who takes them captive to a land far away or near; 37 and if they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their captivity and say, ‘We have sinned, we have done wrong and acted wickedly’; 38 and if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul in the land of their captivity where they were taken, and pray toward the land you gave their ancestors, toward the city you have chosen and toward the temple I have built for your Name; 39 then from heaven, your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their pleas, and uphold their cause. And forgive your people, who have sinned against you.” – 2 Chronicles 6:36-39 – NIV

Reread those verses and think for a second… You may be saying “How does this apply? Isn’t this just an ironic prophecy about Israel’s inevitable collapse and occupation by Babylon?” And, yes, it probably is. But the beauty of the Bible is taking historical accounts and creating life lessons from them, so hear me out. When you’re buried in sin, and truly lost, it almost feels like you’re a captive in enemy land. And, in some spiritual sense, you are. Sin is the land of the world and of Satan, not of God. And you feel far and cut off from everyone, but look at 37. Then 38. Because if you pray to God, he will hear you, and if you truly wish to repent – to turn in your ways – and return to God in all of your heart (and soul, and mind, and strength) then God will forgive you.

“…Now, my God, please, let Your eyes be open and Your ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place…” – 2 Chronicles 6:40

-Liam Johnson

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 2 Chronicles 5-6 and Romans 2

Stand Firm against Deception

with Humility

1 Chronicles 21-22 and Proverbs 27

My family, several of my church family, and many friends and family from across the Midwest and beyond just returned home from a week of church camp for the whole family where the theme was Stand Firm. So, I am seeing Stand Firm everywhere. Sometimes good examples, sometimes bad examples, but always examples to learn from.

1st Chronicles 21 starts right off with “Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel.”

One evening at Family Camp our theme was Stand Firm against Evil and many warnings were given of the roaring lion who seeks to devour – not just nibble at your toe. I found it interesting that in this passage (which is one of the few Old Testament passages besides those in Job that uses Satan’s name) Satan’s target is not an individual but a whole country and his means of attack is through their leader. Thanks to Stephanie Schlegel, our writer last week, I know that Israel is about the size of New Jersey and I can much better picture this beautiful land that God chose for His people and that Satan wanted to bring down.

It reminds me of the importance of praying for our leaders who are in vulnerable positions and are themselves perfect targets through which an entire nation or church can be attacked by spiritual evil. And the laws and policies they put in place are sometimes actually brought about by the devil’s deception, as we see in the case of David.

In this case I believe Satan saw David’s ego as a possible chink in his armor through which Satan could attack a whole country. David, unprompted by God but deceived by Satan, decided it would be a good idea to number the fighting men in Israel. His army commander, Joab, tried to talk David out of it. He pleaded with David to be content just knowing that ALL the fighting men were loyal to him and God was watching over them, regardless of how many or few they were. But that wasn’t enough for a man deceived by Satan, he needed to know exactly how large and vast his kingdom had grown. It’s better for bragging rights to be able to say, “The nation I built has one million one hundred thousand fighting men.” But God wanted him to be content saying, “The nation God built is large.” God was disappointed in David and there was a price to pay – by the whole nation. One man’s sins can reap a punishment for a whole nation. And it is a sin to let your pride grow, especially when it grows greater than your trust in God.

The Proverbs have much to say about pride and humility, including Proverbs 27:1-2

“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth. Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips.”

How can you Stand Firm this week – in humility. Never get puffed up about how well you are standing firm, or how large your army or influence is. Resist the devil and his attacks. Don’t be deceived. Stand firm – trusting in God alone.

-Marcia Railton

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 1 Chronicles 21-22 and Proverbs 27

The Enemy desires everything we have

2 Kings 19-20; Proverbs 14

In our previous readings, there were examples of two choices that could be made when faced with trouble. One could follow the one true God or follow their own god. Hezekiah was the king of Judah who chose to follow God, and we should too. However, Hezekiah was not exempt from later circumstances with choices to be made. The choice to follow God or not was – and is – ongoing.

At the end of Chapter 18, we see that Hezekiah stumbled. He accepted defeat from the Assyrian army after years of conquering and standing strong with his God. He gave the king of Assyria what belonged to his God (gold from the temple of Yahweh). Even after meeting their demands, it was not enough. The enemy desired everything of Hezekiah and his people. He desired their worship.

The king of Assyria sent armies to Jerusalem and surrounded it. The leader of the army told the people to accept defeat because their God would not deliver them from the king of Assyria. He went on to offer the people great things such as a land full of plentiful good food and drink. It could be theirs if only they would forsake their God.

This time (it was over the course of a few repeated circumstances with the same choice – following God), Hezekiah made the right choice. He prayed. He proclaimed the majesty of his God and asked that all would know that Yahweh alone was God. What a prayer. And then what a response from God! What an outcome! Yahweh heard and delivered.

Yet again, God prospered Hezekiah. While all the cities around him, even the northern kingdom of Israel, had been desolated and the people carried away into exile, God did great things in Jerusalem under King Hezekiah. The great things (good food and drink) that were offered to the people of Judah if they would just forsake their God and follow the king of Assyria became abundant in Jerusalem and a remnant was spared for years when they chose to follow God. Remarkable!

It is clear to me that Yahweh God alone wants our worship. He wants our hearts. When we are faced with a choice to follow him or not, he rewards those who choose him.

The people in Hezekiah’s kingdom were seeing defeat all around them. They knew what taking a stand against the king of Assyria might mean for them. The northern kingdom had starved to the point of eating their own dead children before they accepted defeat (as we read in other places, the king of Israel was told by God to surrender. Instead, he allowed his people to die). For Hezekiah’s people, having the temptation of a land full of food and drink dangling above them would have been hard to resist. Yet they did resist. In the face of temptation, they listened to their king and remained silent.   

I thought about Jesus when I read this passage and how he was led by the spirit to be tempted when he was hungry. The very last thing he was tempted with was being placed on a high mountain (maybe like the Asherah?) and given a choice to have all that he saw from that high place if he only worshipped the devil. Jesus said “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship Yahweh your God, and serve him only.’”

If our Lord Jesus was not exempt from temptation in his time of need, neither should we expect to be. We all have a choice to make. Will we serve God in our times of trouble? Will we serve God when tempted with pleasure or even with our basic needs? Know what Yahweh has done for his people when they choose him. “Have you not heard?” (2 Kings 19:25). In our time, he has supplied every need through our Lord Jesus Christ. Choose him! He has already won. If we follow him, we’ve won too. Pray like Hezekiah. Command the enemy to flee like Jesus. When difficult circumstances arise again, keep choosing God. Tell Satan to Go!

-Juliet Taylor

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 2 Kings 19-20 and Proverbs 14