Today’s Bible Reading: 2 Chronicles 24-25:28; Romans 12:1-21; Psalm 22:19-31; Proverbs 20:8-10
Joash was only 7 years old when he became king. He did well, but only for a while (2 Chronicles 24:1-2). One good thing Joash did was repair the Temple which had been ransacked by the wicked Queen Athaliah who used the things made for God to serve the pagan god Baal (2 Chronicles 24:7).
The things in life meant for God should not be used to serve Satan. This includes you and me. We were made for God. Therefore we should not use our bodies or minds for any other purpose than to serve Him.
God could easily have miraculously restored the Temple without any effort by His people. But that is not how God works. He invites us to be a part of what He is doing. In this case some people gave money. Some supervised the construction. Some were masons and others were carpenters or metalworkers (2 Chronicles 24:10-12). Everyone has a talent that they can use to serve.
We learn that Joash was not a man of strong character in 2 Chronicles 24:17-19. He was heavily influenced by the good Jehoiada at first but after Jehoiada dies Joash is controlled by ungodly men. Joash seems to have been a people-pleaser who did not have much conviction of his own. He even resorts to killing Zechariah, the son of his mentor (2 Chronicles 24:21).
Here is a man who started out so well. Yet he finishes so poorly. There are many people like this. Many young people are raised by godly parents but when they go out on their own they hang out with the wrong people and leave God. Some return. Some do not.
One thing we all need in order to walk with God is accountability from other Christians. Its easy to let the lure of the world lead us astray. Very easy. After Jehoiada died Joash surrounded himself with less-than-godly men. And that ruined the rest of his life.
The next king of Judah, Amaziah, hires some mercenary soldiers from Israel but is warned by a prophet not to let these soldiers fight with Judah (2 Chronicles 25:6-8). Amaziah had a dilemma because he has already paid the soldiers (2 Chronicles 25:9). But Amaziah realized it would cost him much more to be disobedient to God. There is always a price to pay for obedience. Loss of money. Loss of prestige. Loss of friends or family. But as the prophet said, the Lord is able to give much more (2 Chronicles 25:9).
After Amaziah thoroughly defeats the Edomites he brings back some of the idols of Edom and offers sacrifices to them (2 Chronicles 25:14). Then God asks Amaziah: “Why do you turn to gods who could not even save their own people?” (2 Chronicles 25:15). What a great question!
After so much human history it seems strange to me that we still turn to the same things to help us cope with life that have never helped anyone cope like sex, drugs, or alcohol. The only One who can help us is Jesus. He is the cure-all for any pain we are going through and also for our biggest problem: where we will spend eternity.
Because God has been so merciful to us we should live a life that He will find acceptable (Romans 12:1). Notice that Paul “pleads” or “beseeches” us, his readers, to do this. We don’t have to. It is our choice how we are going to live. Nothing magical happens after we are saved to make us do good all the time. It requires work on our part to not copy what the world is doing and to let God transform our way of thinking (Romans 12:2). This is huge as our thoughts control our actions.
Having an impure or evil thought pop into our head is not sin. God allows Satan to tempt us. But allowing it to fester and grow is sin. Of course, acting upon it is sin as well. Our job is to let God renew our minds so that we dismiss these thoughts immediately.
Likewise we should walk in humility (Romans 12:3). None of us are any better than anyone else. We are all in the same boat – we are all in need of God’s mercy. Alone we are nothing. Rather we are all part of something larger… using the gifts that God has given us (Romans 12:3-8).
In the remainder of Romans 12 Paul lays out some rules for Christians to follow. Since Paul is writing under the influence of the Holy Spirit, who is God, we need to see these statements as commands. They are not optional. They are not suggestions. We are to do them. God will never command us to do something that we cannot do. But we cannot do them in our own strength because we are naturally evil. Instead we need to do them through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in us just as He lived in Paul.
Yesterday in Psalm 22 we read the words of someone who thought they were abandoned by God, just as Jesus was on the cross. Today the Psalm concludes with a change of attitude. Even though the author was going through a terrible time, he shows tremendous confidence in God to rescue him (Psalm 22:20-21). He also praises God multiple times despite his dire circumstances (Psalm 22: 22, 23, 25). It is not easy to have this attitude when life is beating us up. But through the power of the Holy Spirit our minds can overcome any hardship by focusing on the tremendous love God has for us and the victory that awaits.
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