Today’s Bible Reading: 2 Chronicles 29:1-36; Romans 14:1-23; Psalm 24:1-10; Proverbs 20:12
The good King Hezekiah takes over as ruler of Judah in 2 Chronicles 29. He seems to have been a student of history, realizing that the unfaithful acts of previous generations had caused hard times to fall on Israel and Judah, which had become objects of ridicule (2 Chronicles 29:6-9). I hope that someday soon the United States has a leader that is as good a student of history so as to lead us away from the same mistakes that Israel and Judah made.
Three years after Hezekiah became king, Assyria began a siege against Israel, Judah’s northern neighbor. Three years after that Israel was no more, having been conquered with their best and brightest people exiled. I’m sure Hezekiah saw what was happening to Israel and decided to implement some urgent reforms in order for Judah to avoid the same fate. Certainly we can and should learn from our own mistakes, but there is nothing wrong with learning from the mistakes of others as well.
It looks as though the Temple became a self-storage unit for Judah as it took 16 days simply to remove all the stuff that was in there that shouldn’t be have been (2 Chronicles 29:17). Likewise, before we can offer ourselves to God we need to remove the bad influences in our lives. God doesn’t ask us to be perfect, just available. But we can’t be available if we are filling our lives with things that will distract us from Him like television or ungodly friends. These things must be removed. Then we can present ourselves to God for His use (2 Chronicles 29:19).
Notice that Hezekiah praised God right from the Bible (2 Chronicles 29:30) by reading from the Psalms. When we need to find the words to praise Him, the words of David are a great place to look. I often find it hard to offer praise to God when I pray. It is easy to ask for things or to confess sin. But praise is tougher.
It took hard work and many people, but the goal was achieved: the Temple of the Lord was restored (2 Chronicles 29:35). If you have fallen away from God, as I did for a while, know that you too can be restored. It may take some time and a lot of hard work, but the alternative should not be an option for you. Make a relationship with God through Jesus your life’s goal.
Christians should agree on the core foundation of God’s word: we are sinners in need of a savior and that savior can only be, and, in fact, was, God. But we need to have an open mind when it comes to issues that are not core to the faith. This is exactly what Paul addresses in Romans 14.
As an example, Paul discusses people who are vegetarians and those who are not (Romans 14:2). God does not tell us that we cannot eat meat. Nor does He tell us that we must eat meat. God only tells us that we can eat meat (Genesis 9:3). Therefore we must not criticize or judge one another in matters such as these. Each one of us should do what our conscience tells us (Romans 14:5b, 14).
I heard a sermon last year from Northpoint Community Church in which the pastor talked about this. I liked the way he put it. When it comes to topics that we as believers disagree with we need to ask ourselves: “It it in THE way or is it in MY way?”. If something another believer is doing goes against God’s word, then we should confront it in love. If it is just a preference and not a commandment of God, then we should not judge or condemn. Jesus is the only judge (Romans 14:12).
Judging another brother or sister in Christ could cause them to stumble and fall away (Romans 14:13). We should use our freedom in Christ not to impose rules on others, but to build each other up (Romans 14:20).
But we should not be hypocrites to our own conscience either (Romans 14:23b). We could hold a strong conviction about doing or not doing something that is not explicitly mentioned in the Bible. But if we do or don’t do it anyway, it is a sin.
The earth and everything in it and on it belongs to God, including people (Psalm 24:1). We own nothing. God has granted us use of His planet and He will judge us on how well we steward it. Being good stewards by doing things such as recycling won’t gain anyone entry into heaven. Nevertheless, we will have to give an account of how we took care of God’s possessions.
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