Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 19 July 18:
1. 2 Chronicles 33:1 – “Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem.”
– Though Manasseh was one of the most evil kings to reign in Jerusalem, God allowed him to rein for fifty-five years for His purposes. Faith requires perseverance.
– A young orphan is in danger of being influenced by the wrong people outside of family. We have metaphorical spiritual orphans within the church, not being properly discipled by more mature Christians.
2. 2 Chronicles 33:2, 3 — “And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel. For he rebuilt the high places that his father Hezekiah had broken down, and he erected altars to the Baals, and made Asheroth, and worshiped all the host of heaven and served them.” When you sin, you repeat the destructive behavior of so many others before you who have already demonstrated the foolishness of disobedience. Wise people do not repeat historic folly. The Bible is provided, in part, so you can heed the lessons of those who have gone before you. “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4) “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.” (1 Corinthians 10:11)
3. 2 Chronicles 33:9 — “Manasseh led Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem astray, to do more evil than the nations whom the Lord destroyed before the people of Israel.” You will either lead people closer to Christ or further away. Who are you influencing, and how does your impact advance the Gospel which is your life’s mission?
4. 2 Chronicles 33:10 — “The Lord spoke to Manasseh and to his people, but they paid no attention.” People today have more access to God’s word than any other time in human history, and God speaks today through His word and the Holy Spirit. God’s word is clear; the question is will we pay attention? Faith without obedience is dead.
5. 2 Chronicles 33:11-13 — “Therefore the Lord brought upon them the commanders of the army of the king of Assyria, who captured Manasseh with hooks and bound him with chains of bronze and brought him to Babylon. And when he was in distress, he entreated the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers…. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God.”
– Manasseh was a terribly evil king who led the whole kingdom away from God and even murdered his own children (v6) as an act of worship to idols, yet God was willing to accept his humble prayer and to forgive him. God forgives the truly repentant. But it took great suffering for Manasseh to finally turn to God. Pride is a very powerful thing. Where does pride still reign in your life? What will it take for God to humble you? Better to have self-discipline than to require God’s external discipline to get your attention.
6. 2 Chronicles 33:17 — “Nevertheless, the people still sacrificed at the high places, but only to the Lord their God.” Do not leave a door open for sin to enter. Compromise usually leads to greater compromise. Remove completely from your life those things that would tempt you to sin.
7. 2 Chronicles 33:19 — “And his prayer, and how God was moved by his entreaty, and all his sin and his faithlessness, and the sites on which he built high places and set up the Asherim and the images, before he humbled himself, behold, they are written in the Chronicles of the Seers.” How Jesus saved you from your sin, made you a new creation, and changed the course of your whole life is your testimony. If you are a disciple of Jesus, you no longer have to be ashamed by your past, but you can now proclaim the truth of the Gospel. Witnesses testify to what they have personally experienced; anything else is simply hearsay. You are a witness if Jesus has made you a new creation. Share your testimony with thanksgiving and joy.
8. 2 Chronicles 33:21-24 — “Amon… reigned two years in Jerusalem. And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, as Manasseh his father had done. Amon sacrificed to all the images that Manasseh his father had made, and served them. And he did not humble himself before the Lord, as Manasseh his father had humbled himself, but this Amon incurred guilt more and more. And his servants conspired against him and put him to death in his house.” Amon’s story is the opposite of his father Manasseh, both started out in severe sin, but Manasseh humbled himself before the Lord, and Amon didn’t. The door is open to everyone, but every person makes their own choice.
9. 2 Chronicles 34:1-17 – Revival involves a return to obedience, and when God brings revival, he also calls the revived to mission.
10. 2 Chronicles 34:2 — “[Josiah] did what was right in the eyes of the Lord… and he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.” Let this be said at your funeral.
11. 2 Chronicles 34:3 — “For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet a boy, he began to seek the God of David his father, and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the Asherim, and the carved and the metal images.” Discipleship involves constant, diligent seeking and purging.
12. 2 Chronicles 34:9-13 — You should be working diligently in your church on a strategy to spread the Gospel to your community and beyond.
13. 2 Chronicles 34:18, 19 — “Then Shaphan the secretary told the king, ‘Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.’ And Shaphan read from it before the king. And when the king heard the words of the Law, he tore his clothes.” Discipleship and sanctification involve discovery of God’s word, diligent study of God’s word, being continually humbled by the Holy Spirit through God’s written word, and obeying God’s word, one day at a time.
14. 2 Chronicles 34:19 — “And when the king heard the words of the Law, he tore his clothes.” Right relationship with God starts with repentance. This is not what most churches preach today. God uses His Bible as His primary instrument for repentance, revival, and sanctification.
15. 2 Chronicles 34:21 — “Go, inquire of the Lord for me and for those who are left in Israel and in Judah, concerning the words of the book that has been found. For great is the wrath of the Lord that is poured out on us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the Lord, to do according to all that is written in this book.” God expects you to follow His word which reflects His character and His perfect will.
16. 2 Chronicles 34:22 – “So Hilkiah and those whom the king had sent went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tokhath, son of Hasrah, keeper of the wardrobe (now she lived in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter) and spoke to her to that effect.” The Spirit of God is not a respecter of position. In this case, the high priest knew that Huldah, who kept the wardrobe, would know God’s word through the Holy Spirit.
17. 2 Chronicles 34:27, 28 — “Because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before God when you heard his words against this place and its inhabitants, and you have humbled yourself before me and have torn your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you, declares the Lord. Behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace, and your eyes shall not see all the disaster that I will bring upon this place and its inhabitants.’” Even through corporate punishment, God will honor your humble obedience. But you will likely stand out in the crowd as faithful before the Lord when everyone else isn’t. You will be set apart.
18. 2 Chronicles 34:31 — “And the king stood in his place and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant that were written in this book.” The truly repentant respond to God’s grace with obedience.
19. 2 Chronicles 34:32, 33 – “Then he made all who were present in Jerusalem and in Benjamin join in it. And the inhabitants of Jerusalem did according to the covenant of God, the God of their fathers. And Josiah took away all the abominations from all the territory that belonged to the people of Israel and made all who were present in Israel serve the Lord their God. All his days they did not turn away from following the Lord, the God of their fathers.” Forcing obedience brings stability but doesn’t change hearts. External controls are no substitute for self-control. As soon as the external controls are gone, self-destruction is likely. Self-discipline is a fruit of the Spirit.
20. Proverbs 19:2 – “Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.” It is not enough to want to be a good person. You must also plan for good works. “…but those who plan peace have joy. (Proverbs 12:20)
21. Proverbs 19:3 – “When a man’s folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the Lord.” Don’t blame God for your bad choices.
22. Proverbs 19:3, 11, 19: “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense…. A man of great wrath will pay the penalty, for if you deliver him, you will only have to do it again.” How you control your temper reveals your faith, wisdom, and relationship with God.
23. Proverbs 19:13, 14 – “A foolish son is ruin to his father, and a wife’s quarreling is a continual dripping of rain. House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.” Family stability is critical to life success. Families are not built with money, education, or opportunity. They are built on the foundation of Jesus Christ.
24. Proverbs 19:21 — “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” How has God arranged circumstances to reveal Himself and His truth to you? How has He changed your world view and your approach to life?
25. Proverbs 19:22 – “What is desired in a man is steadfast love, and a poor man is better than a liar.” Ultimately, your character is what counts, not your capabilities.
26. Proverbs 19:24 – “The sluggard buries his hand in the dish and will not even bring it back to his mouth.” Opportunity awaits those who will take it.
27. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 – “Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way….” False end times teachings have always troubled the church.
28. 2 Thessalonians 2:3 — “…the man of lawlessness is revealed…” Who is the antichrist? Is he alive right now? When will he be revealed? There has always been much debate on the matter, but the Bible clearly reveals that the spirit of ‘antichrist’ is alive and well. This we can understand. There have been many ‘antichrists,’ and we are surrounded by antichrists today. Jesus explains that if a person isn’t “with him” in total, that person is against Him, anti-Him, antichrist. If a person doesn’t “gather” with Jesus, that person “scatters” as an enemy to Jesus. The only person who uses the actual word “antichrist” in the Bible is John, and he says, “many antichrists have come. Therefore, we know that it is the last hour…. Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son…. and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already…. For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.” (1 John 1, 2, 4) Anyone who denies (in any way) the complete Gospel is “antichrist.” Note, that in today’s readings, the word “antichrist” is not used but rather “the man of lawlessness.” We should not miss the point that the primary trait of the one who opposes the will of God is “lawlessness,” along with rebellion, disobedience, and pride. Contrarily, the one who is truly “pro-Christ” is identified by obedience, inspired by genuine love. Jesus said this, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great…. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Luke 6:46-49; Matthew 7:21-23) You see that Jesus also uses the word “lawlessness” to describe “religious” people who claim to be followers of Jesus but who do not actually follow Him in obedience to His word. “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up…. Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (Galatians 6:7-9; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11) “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24) Worship God in “truth.”
29. 2 Thessalonians 2:8-10 – Even God’s breath is strong enough to destroy Satan’s opposition.
30. 2 Thessalonians 2:10-11 – “…because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.” God’s judgment comes when you refuse to love the truth. The Bible says that God IS love and IS Truth. Our first command is to love God. This is life eternal.
31. 2 Thessalonians 2:10-16 — Love binds one who witnesses with those who respond.
32. 2 Thessalonians 2:15 – “So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.” Stand firm!
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 19 July 18: Share your personal testimony with someone today. (2 Chron 33:19)