Wednesday, August 2, 2017

August 2: 2 Chronicles 32 – 33:13; Psalm 25:16-22; Proverbs 20:16-17; Romans 15:23-16:7


            2 Chronicles: Sennacherib, king of Assyria captured the fortified cities of Judah. Hezekiah and the people stopped up the water so that Sennacherib and his army would not have water when they arrived. He also fortified Jerusalem. He gathered the people and told them not to be afraid of the horde against them but to be courageous because there were more with them. They were only people but the Lord would fight their battles.
            Sennacherib sent his officials to Jerusalem and they taunted Hezekiah for rebelling and trusting in the Lord as well as Hezekiah’s feeble army. He told them not to listen to Hezekiah who said the Lord would deliver them. None of the gods of the other countries had delivered them from Assyria. He said no god could deliver a land from the Assyrians. He spoke in Hebrew so all the people on the wall could hear him and to frighten them. Hezekiah and Isaiah prayed and the Lord answered by killing of the army of Sennacherib.
            Hezekiah became sick and was about to die. He prayed and God gave him a sign and healed him. That made him proud and wrath came upon him. He repented of the pride and the wrath did not come during his life. He had great riches given to him by the Lord. Envoys came to him to ask about the sign. The Lord didn’t warn him to test him to see what was in his heart.
            When Hezekiah died, his son, Manasseh took over when he was 12 years old. He reigned 55 years. He did evil in God’s sight. He rebuilt the high places, worshiped the host of heaven, put altars and idols in the temple for them, burned his son as an offering, was involved in occult and witchcraft. His evil was more than the nations the Lord destroyed.
            Manasseh didn’t listen to God so God sent Assyria. They captured him and took him captive to Babylon. Manasseh humbled himself and prayed. God listened and brought him back to Jerusalem. He then knew the Lord was God.
            Psalm: David asks God for grace because he is lonely and afflicted. He asks God to consider all his troubles and to guard his soul. He adds all Israel to his request for deliverance.
            Proverbs: If someone wants to cosign for a stranger or foreigner and you are the lender, then you better get some collateral. A person who prospers by deceit will find it bitter in the end.
            Romans: Paul explains that he hopes to see those in Rome after he takes aid to Jerusalem. The Gentiles have contributed to the needs of the saints in Jerusalem and he says this is fitting since the Gentiles have gotten a share in spiritual blessings of the Jews.
            He then asks for prayer for his protection from unbelievers in Judea, that his service will be acceptable, and he can come to Rome and then on to Spain.
            He then commends Phoebe that they may welcome and help her as she has helped him and many others. He then asks them to greet several fellow workers who are in Rome.

What Stood Out

            2 Chronicles: “And so in the matter of the envoys of the princes of Babylon, who had been sent to him to inquire about the sign that had been done in the land, God left him to himself, in order to test him and to know all that was in his heart” (2 Chron 32:31).                 
            Psalm: “The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses” (Ps 25:17).
            Proverbs: “Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be full of gravel” (Prov 20:17).
            Romans: “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well” (Rom 16:1-2).


            2 Chronicles: It is too easy for each of us to become proud. This happens at various times and ways to each of us. It is ironic that many times this comes after we have had a great spiritual experience. God healed Hezekiah and he gave him a sign, moving the sun backwards in the sky. According to 2 Chron 32:31, this was observable in Babylon proving that it was more than a local event in Jerusalem. Apparently, this caused Hezekiah to become proud. Even after he humbled himself, the Lord let envoys from Babylon come to him test him to see if he was still proud.
            When we have become proud and even after we have repented, the Lord will let us be tested to see if we have learned our lesson. The examination of Hezekiah revealed that he still had pride because he showed all he had to the Babylonian envoy. Isaiah told him that he was foolish and all would be taken to Babylon (2 Kings 20:12-19).
            We should learn our lesson when we repent of pride, but we should also know that one time of overcoming pride doesn’t conquer it for all time. New circumstances, new victories, are all things that may tempt us to become proud. Know that the Lord will leave us to ourselves (2 Chron 32:31) to see if we have learned or not. That’s when we need to call out for help.
            Psalm: David said the troubles of his heart were enlarged (Ps 25:17). When we are lonely or afflicted, it seems like our hearts may burst. Different things come crashing in and they seem to happen all at the same time. Little things get magnified out of proportion and large things are so big that we can’t even think about them. That’s when we really must cry out to the Lord to guard our soul. When we are confident that the Lord is working and we trust him to work all things for our good and his glory, we can breathe. We can take the time to wait on the Lord and then get up and live the life he wants.
            Proverbs: The rewards of sin often start out being very pleasant. That’s the way sin is. It starts off like sweet rolls that have been stolen. They taste really good. However, as it leads on to bigger things, it eventually turns into bad. After all, we can’t hide anything from God and he will not let our sin ruin us if we know the Lord. If we don’t know him, then the consequences will be eternal.
            Romans: Paul asked for prayer from the Romans. He wanted to pray for three things:1) that he would be delivered from unbelievers; 2) that his service would be acceptable; 3) he would be able to go to Rome. God answered all three prayers. His service of taking gifts to Jerusalem was accepted and that was what he expected. I don’t think the others were answered in the way Paul was expecting. He was truly delivered from unbelievers. They grabbed him and it took Roman soldiers to rescue him. They conspired against him and it took even more soldiers to get him out of town. After two years, the Roman government took him to Rome as a prisoner.
            Sometimes we don’t know how God answers prayer. The one thing we should always understand is that he hears the prayer of his children. But there are times when we just don’t seem to have any concept of how God wants us to pray. I hear prayers for people to be healed of some illness when they have suffered for long periods of time from the painful and lingering disease. They say, “We almost lost Alfred yesterday but he Lord spared him.” Is he any better today? “No, but he’s still alive. We hope he can make it to his 91st birthday.” If you asked Alfred, he was ready to go months ago and he’s wondering why God is keeping him around so long. If he didn’t know Jesus, I could understand why we would want him to continue but he is a believer. So how do you pray in those situations?
            In Paul’s personal greetings, he asks the church in Rome to care for Phoebe, a woman who has financially aided Paul and others. He asks that they supply whatever she needs. This short comment about her tells me that she was not just a patron, but she had some serious ministry in the church. We often underestimate the role of women in the early church. I would like to know more about what they did.


             I need to watch out for pride. It raises its head too easily. I can even be proud of how well I repent of pride!

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