Thursday, August 3, 2017

August 3

2 Chronicles 33:14-34:33; Romans 16:8-27; Psalm 26:1-12; Proverbs 20:19

If today’s text sounds a little familiar to you (as many of these texts in 2 Chronicles are bound to), that is a good sign that you are thoroughly reading your OYB every day. Way to go! It was just one short month ago on July 3rd that we read about this same story of Josiah in 2 Kings 22 and 23. My sister Sarah wrote an excellent post on his life and story, which you can read here. So as not to be redundant, and since there is not much I could say to better her post, I will focus on other aspects of today’s Scripture.

First, I am continually struck by how completely bent towards mercy and forgiveness our God is. Manasseh was probably the most evil king recorded in the Judah’s history, as we saw evidenced through the list of awful things he did in yesterday’s reading. And yet, God is moved to not bring the wrath that Manasseh deserves, but rather mercy. 2 Chronicles 33:19 tells us that when Manasseh humbled himself and prayed in repentance to the Lord, “God was moved by his entreaty.”

This gives me such great hope. It really challenges me to pray for ALL people. There is no one beyond God’s reach. There is no one whose heart is too hard. There is no one who has done too many abominable and evil things. All hearts are subject to humbling and repentance. All hearts can be moved to beg for forgiveness and begin to lead a life in keeping with repentance.

I needed this encouragement today as I have grown weary in my praying for the softening of hearts of those around me who deny God’s existence and authority. Jesus, have mercy and draw ALL people to yourself.

Second, I am challenged by the verses found in Romans 16:17-18. Paul exhorts his Roman readers to “watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in [their] way that are contrary to the teaching [they] have learned.  Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By their smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naïve people.”

In recent years, I feel like the many churches and Christians have had a subtle shifting in their belief system in order to avoid be labeled “narrow-minded” and “intolerant of others.”  While it is true that we should show love and kindness to all people, I don’t believe Jesus calls us to show complete acceptance, no matter what, to all people. People who blatantly twist the truth of God’s word and cause confusion and division in God’s family should be avoided. Paul says “keep away from them” (Rom. 16:17)! We are not to keep accepting them into our midst. There is a great danger in allowing them to stay and do whatever they want, so we can avoid being “intolerant.” And that danger is that they will cause further damage by “deceiving the minds of naive people” (vs.18).  Their smooth talk will lead others astray and God’s people, his holy church, will be slowly broken apart.

As we have seen all throughout our OYB readings this year, God wants a people whose hearts are wholly committed to him in love and obedience. We obey his word so we can be a pure and holy priesthood, able to represent him in fullness of life to a world that desperately needs to hear the truth.

Lord, I confess that I am not wise and I don’t see well. I want to be like Josiah who has a passion to follow your laws in complete obedience, and then (like Manasseh) humble myself before you when I stray from them. “Test me, O Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for your love is ever before me, and I walk continually in your truth” (Ps. 26:2). May I be a person who challenges others around me to also walk continually in that truth.

- Mary Matthias

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