YEAR 2, WEEK 5, Day 5, Friday, 3 February 2023

Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Friday, 3 February 2023:

2 Chronicles 32:1-3 – After these things and these acts of faithfulness, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah and encamped against the fortified cities, thinking to win them for himself.  And when Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib had come and intended to fight against Jerusalem, he planned with his officers and his mighty men to stop the water of the springs that were outside the city; and they helped him.

Hezekiah’s faithfulness did not remove problems from his life, did not eliminate the need to plan, and did not remove the need to trust and obey God.  In fact, in his faithfulness, problems only seemed to get far worse for Hezekiah.  What do you do when your faithfulness doesn’t seem to be “working”?

2 Chronicles 32:11-15 – Thus says Sennacherib king of Assyria, “On what are you trusting, that you endure the siege in Jerusalem?  Is not Hezekiah misleading you, that he may give you over to die by famine and by thirst, when he tells you, The Lord our God will deliver us from the hand of the king of Assyria?  Has not this same Hezekiah taken away his high places and his altars and commanded Judah and Jerusalem, Before one altar you shall worship, and on it you shall burn your sacrifices?  Do you not know what I and my fathers have done to all the peoples of other lands?  Were the gods of the nations of those lands at all able to deliver their lands out of my hand?  Who among all the gods of those nations that my fathers devoted to destruction was able to deliver his people from my hand, that your God should be able to deliver you from my hand?  Now, therefore, do not let Hezekiah deceive you or mislead you in this fashion, and do not believe him, for no god of any nation or kingdom has been able to deliver his people from my hand or from the hand of my fathers.  How much less will your God deliver you out of my hand!’”

Faith calls you to trust God’s ways rather than human ways.

The world is blinded by its own apparent successes.  The world will point to its great achievements to lure you away from faith in God and make you trust substitutes for God.

The world wants you to believe that all religions are equal, equally powerless.  The world’s attacks against Christianity will grow, teaching that our faith is an illusion.  Only those who truly know Jesus (know Him personally, not just facts about Him) will survive such attacks.

2 Chronicles 32:18 – And they shouted it with a loud voice in the language of Judah to the people of Jerusalem who were on the wall, to frighten and terrify them, in order that they might take the city.

The mockers of Christianity speak the language of the people.  They are often very knowledgeable of what is written in the Bible (though they don’t have Holy Spirit enlightenment) and can quote the Bible better than many true believers.  They often seek to relate on a personal level in order to lure people away from Jesus.  They are also usually very passionate about the lies they personally believe.  They can be very persuasive to those who are not strongly united with Christ.

2 Chronicles 32:20 – Then Hezekiah the king and Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, prayed because of this and cried to heaven.

Prayer is not our last resort; it is our primary weapon.

2 Chronicles 32:21 — And the Lord sent an angel, who cut off all the mighty warriors and commanders and officers in the camp of the king of Assyria.

God accomplishes His purposes in ways that the world can’t understand or perceive to be from God.

2 Chronicles 32:22 — So the Lord saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib king of Assyria and from the hand of all his enemies, and he provided for them on every side.

Either you will turn to the world for your provision and security or you will turn to God.  You cannot turn to both.  God provides through worldly means; for example, God feeds you through everyday farmers and markets, but never lose sight that it is God that is providing. 

2 Chronicles 32:25 — But Hezekiah did not make return according to the benefit done to him, for his heart was proud.  Therefore, wrath came upon him and Judah and Jerusalem.

You are always in danger of responding to God’s blessings with foolish pride, taking credit rather than giving credit to God and trusting in your own strength.  God does not share the glory.  Hezekiah was very successful in the LORD, until pride became his downfall.

2 Chronicles 32:27 – Hezekiah… made for himself treasuries for silver.

Pride turned into self-centeredness and materialism. 

2 Chronicles 32:31 – God left him to himself, in order to test him and to know all that was in his heart.

Remember your days in school?  During tests, the teacher was silent.  How do you respond when your faith is tested and there appears to be no response from God?  Remember in John 11 how when Lazarus was sick, Jesus stayed away two more days so that Mary and Martha would receive an even greater revelation of Him than they had seen previously (Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life)?  Perhaps the silence you are feeling is God building your faith and preparing you for far greater things than you ever anticipated.  God may also be revealing to you the limits of your own faith.  In your doubt, what is God revealing to you about what you truly believe?  In your doubt, draw nearer to God, not further away.

Matthew 25:40 – And the King will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

The way we treat others reveals what we really think about God, how much we truly love God, and how grateful we are for having received grace through Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf, a sacrifice He gave while we were still sinners and neither deserved it nor desired it.   The “least of these” are often easy to disregard because they became “the least” as a result of their own destructive behavior, behavior in which they might still be engaging.  Jesus says, treat them as He treated you – “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) Your love for God is revealed most clearly when you love those who don’t ‘deserve’ it.

  – Psalm 145:8 — The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

  – Matthew 24:12 — And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.

  – Luke 6:27, 32, 35 —  “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you….  If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you?  For even sinners love those who love them….  But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.

  – Luke 7:47 — Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”

  – John 13:34, 35 — A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

  – John 15:12, 13, 17 — “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends….  These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

  – 1 John 3:10, 11, 14, 16, 17 — By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.  For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another….  We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers.  Whoever does not love abides in death….  By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.  But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?

  – 1 John 4:7-12 — Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.  In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.  In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

  – 1 John 4:19-21 — We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.  And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

  – Ephesians 5:2 — And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

  – Galatians 5:14 — For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

  – Galatians 5:22 — But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

  – 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 — If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

  – James 2:8 — If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.

How does how you love the undeserving reveal what you really believe about Jesus?  Proclaim the love of Christ to “the least of these.”  Be, do, and tell the Good News of the Gospel. “Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 3 February 2023:  Love others, particularly the unloving, the way God loves you – “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)  Be, do, and tell the Good News of the Gospel.

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