Monday, October 6, 2014

God will strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him!"

Day #283:  Daily Bible Reading Plan - October 7th

Scripture Reading:  II Chronicles 16 - 20 ...

When you are in need ... when you are being persecuted or oppressed or threatened by someone or by the forces of evil around you (and they DO exist!), what do you do?  Where do you turn?  Whom do you rely on?  King Asa and his son, King Jehoshaphat, usually trusted in the LORD and depended upon Him to rescue them from their enemies.  But when they didn't, God let them know that they were being foolish, for who but God can deliver us from ALL of our enemies, physical or spiritual?  Do you have such confidence in the LORD, our God?  Or do you ever think about it?  Do you try to solve your own problems, to take things into your own hands, to be in control?  I must confess, all too often I still do that, and it is as foolish today as it was in the days of the kings.

King Asa was devoted to the LORD, his God, the God of Israel, but when he was threatened by the northern kingdom of Israel, he made an alliance with the king of Aram.  God sent a prophet to Asa and the prophet said to him, "When you relied on the LORD, He delivered them into your hand, for the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.  You have done a foolish thing ..." (16:8-9).  It is always foolish to rely on anything or anyone other than the LORD for deliverance from your enemies.

There are important lessons here to be applied to our lives today:  one is that God desires a complete and heartfelt commitment to Him from those who are His people.  Half-hearted devotion to God is the same as no devotion to God.  Either He is God or He is not.  Either He can help you, no matter what situation you are in, or He can't.  Either He is control over everything or there are things beyond His control.  Either He loves you and is with you ... or ...   But GOD says that He looks at the heart and He desires those who are fully committed to Him, who cry out to Him, who believe that He hears them and today, who come to Him in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ.

God had helped Judah repeatedly in their brief history and yet the kings often turned to others for help.  Remember, all of these things happened to them as examples and lessons for US!  Jehoshaphat, like his father, Asa had done, allied himself with another king ... this time with Ahab, king of Israel, of all people!  You may remember that Ahab and his wife, Jezebel, were wicked.  Ahab reveals that, when he consults only those around him who will tell him what he wants to hear.  He doesn't want to consult Macaiah because "he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad" (18:7).  Isn't that like so many people today??  They want only the good news.  They don't want to hear about sin or judgment.  They only want to hear that God loves them and everything is fine.  God will overlook their small little failures.  Nobody's perfect!

Ahab could not have imagined that it was God's intention to put him to death.  Even though he tried to disguise himself in the midst of the battle, a stray arrow "accidentally" struck and killed him.  It was God's judgment upon him.  King Jehoshaphat also suffered the consequences of his brief alliance with Ahab, but God showed him grace and forgave him.  Jehoshaphat established just judges and courts in Judah by telling them, "Consider carefully what you do, because you are not judging for man but for the LORD" (19:6).  Oh, that our courts today would seek justice by discerning truth.

The next time enemies came against Judah, Jehoshaphat acted differently.  He turned and inquired of the LORD and proclaimed a fast for all of Judah (20:3).  Then, as the king, he prayed before the people and acknowledged God's rule:  "O LORD, God of our fathers, are You not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations.  Power and might are in Your hand, and no one can withstand YOU!"  (20:6).  How important it is to acknowledge God, to seek Him, to trust Him, to rely on no other power.  "We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You" (20:12).  That may seem like a desperate place to be for some, but for those who know God, there is no better confession to make.  When you are at the end of your strength, God is just getting started!!

As God spoke to Jehoshaphat, He speaks to those who trust in Him today through faith in Jesus Christ, His anointed King.  "Do not be afraid or discouraged ... for the battle is not yours, but God's" (20:15). "You will not have to fight this battle.  Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you" (20:17).  And before they went into the battle, they fell down before the LORD their God in worship and proclaimed, "Give thanks to the LORD, for His love endures forever" (20:21).  They were about to go to war against an army that they had no hope of defeating, but at this point they believed God's promise of deliverance and they worshiped and praised Him.

What if WE did that today?  What if we trusted God enough to fast and pray, believing that He would deliver us?  There are times when God calls us to put on the armor and engage in the battle, but it is our spiritual enemies that we need to engage, with the strength that can and does only come from the LORD, our God.  Jesus told us to come to Him, to believe in Him, to serve Him, believing that He is with us.  How foolish when we get overcome and overwhelmed by the trials of this life.  Our enemies are doubt and fear and anxiety, and too often we believe the lies of the enemy that they will overcome US!  It cannot be if we are relying on the Lord!  He tells us that we should not be anxious about anything, but rather, pray and seek His face and trust His promises, all the while giving thanks, for He is good, all the time, and His love for His children endures forever.

The question is whether you believe in Jesus Christ ... whether you believe God loves you enough to give His own Son to pay the penalty for your sins.  Do you believe that?  If you do, then His strength is yours!!  The Apostle Paul says it so beautifully and so powerfully in Romans 8:  "If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all - how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?" (Romans 8:32).  And then he writes, " ... we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!"  (Romans 8:37-39).

When we think of those who would come against us we usually think of people, but the worst enemies are the enemies of our souls.  As God tells us again through Paul as he writes to the Ephesians, "Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that WHEN the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand!" (Ephesians 6:11-13).

Are you ready to do battle?  As you begin each day, do you put on the "belt of truth," the "breastplate of righteousness," the "shield of faith," and the "helmet of salvation?"  And do you take with you the gospel of peace and the sword of the Spirit, the very Word of the living God?  Are you "armed and dangerous" to the enemies of God?!  Prayer must be our daily conversation with God and the FIRST resort, not the last.  How often people say, "ALL we can do is pray!"  Are you kidding?!  That's the best and most important and the very first thing to do.  "Be joyful always, pray continually, and in every circumstance give thanks, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (I Thessalonians 5:16-18).  It is sometimes said that "when the going gets tough, the tough get going," but the reality is that when the going gets tough, those who know the Lord are already in touch with the God whose eyes "range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him" (16:9).

So in the words of David in Psalm 37:  "Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; for like grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.  Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.  Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him and He will do this:  He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.  Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for Him ... for evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land!" (Psalm 37:1-7).

"O LORD God, my Father in heaven, I call out to You in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, approaching Your throne with confidence, believing that You are with me as I humble myself before You, confessing my sin and relying on You alone for grace, forgiveness and strength to engage in the spiritual battles that are so much a part of life in this world.  I thank You, Father, that Your love endures forever and I trust in You with all my heart.  Fill me with Your Spirit, O God, that my heart may be fully committed to You!  In Jesus' name, Amen"  

No comments:

Post a Comment