SCRIPTURE FROM: Mark 4:38-40 (ERV)
TEXT: 38 ….. “Teacher, don’t you care about us? …..” 39 Jesus stood up and gave a command to the wind and the water. He said, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind stopped, and the lake became calm. 40 He said to his followers, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
OBSERVATION: In our verses, the disciples were frightened by the storms all around them, for the waves were much bigger, and more powerful than their boat. Furthermore they had responsibility of keeping the Savior of the world safe, and they weren’t sure how much longer they could do that. However, after they woke Jesus up from His nap, He calmly stood and beckoned to the waters, that His Father had created, to quiet down and be still. Read the Application to see how this might apply to other storms we have in life.
APPLICATION: There are times that we feel like we are in a storm that’s way beyond our understanding or ability to overcome, and we call out to Jesus, knowing that He is the only one who could help us through our storm, or He may even calm our storm for us. In our Scripture, the storm was at sea, and these storms still occur – so some may still call on Jesus to protect them from the angry waves and the boisterous winds. However, for some of us, our overwhelming storms of life might involve work; financial; family; friends; medical issues; or even loved ones who need more care than you can offer them. These are times that we feel like the overwhelming waters are about to flood over our heads, and we need help. But from whom? For relatives and friends are just as bad, or even worse than us. Friends, let me remind you that just as Jesus used His supernatural power to reach out and calm the powerful waters, He can also reach out and calm you down on the issues you feel so overwhelmed with. He may not see the need to make you a millionaire, but He can place the funds at your disposal to meet your needs. He may not do exactly what you ask, in the same fashion as the way you want it to happen, but He knows what’s even better for us. May I encourage you to know my Jesus personally, so that He will recognize the sound of His ‘sheep’ when we have the need to call on Him? May I suggest that you start depending on Jesus for small and large ‘waves’ or struggles in life. Call upon Him while He is near my friend. He’s still God, He will love you without limits, and He still hears our cry for help even today.
PRAYER: Dear God, we are lost without you, just as the disciples were , when they began to feel overwhelmed by the waves hitting their boat that night on the Sea of Galilee. So many times in life today we feel like the waves of doubt; overwhelming financial issues; or just the stress of so many health challenges are about to consume us… but then we remember the God who created these things that worry us, and we remember that He loved us so much that He sent His very own Son to rescue us from a world of sin. Then we come to our senses and recognize that we are loved beyond anything we could ever expect or deserve. Lord, may we be quick to surrender our cares and concerns to You and allow You to calm our ‘stormy seas’ – our worrying minds and our overwhelmed spirits, so that You – the only One who can, will resume charge and calm us to do Your work under the power and authority of the Holy Spirit. Lord, have Your will and way in our lives today, AMEN!
SCRIPTURE FROM: 2 Chronicles 36:15-17 (NCV)
TEXT: 15 The Lord, the God of their ancestors, sent prophets again and again to warn his people, because he had pity on them and on his Temple. 16 But they made fun of God’s prophets and hated God’s messages. They refused to listen to the prophets until, finally, the Lord became so angry with his people that he could not be stopped. 17 So God brought the king of Babylon to attack them. The king killed the young men even when they were in the Temple. He had no mercy on the young men or women, the old men or those who were sick. God handed all of them over to Nebuchadnezzar.
OBSERVATION: We can see right at the beginning how God showed His love in trying to do everything possible in order to get to the hearts of His children who were disobeying His commands. However, in verse 17 it is clear that God may have to punish at times, in order to get our attention. I know that we don’t like to concentrate on the bad, or the corrections, but that makes it no less real or effective in our lives. God knew what it took to get the attention of the Israelites, and He also knows what it takes for Him to work on you also, child of God.
APPLICATION: While at your favorite restaurant, you might look across the room and see a dad cuddling with his young son and enjoying some quality time with this child that he loves so much. Later during your visit, you hear a child screaming, and you look around only to see a mom taking her son outside, and you can only imagine what’s in store for that boy when he gets outside! Is that a representation of how a dad loves his child vs how a mom shows love to her child? I believe that most of you reading this devotional will understand that both the mom and dad showed equal love towards their children in the above scenario. However, most of the time that we hear about God, it is mostly about His awesome love and how good He is, which I totally endorse. However, let’s also remember that God established His Word to teach us about His commands and His teachings. He tells in His Word of the ways that He shows His love for us and, as in these verses chosen today, He also tells us what action He may bring on us if we are persistent in disobeying Him, or if we decide to follow our own desires and rules and ignore His. Friends, please know that God is known as a loving and just God. He showed His love for mankind by sending His very own Son to die on a cruel cross, just to display the extreme love that He has for us. However, please know that God also loves us enough to correct us. To draw our attention to the wrong we may be involved in. And He may use anyone or anything within His reach to effect our attitude, our obedience, or our love for Him and our fellow man. May I suggest that you speak with God when things are happening that may impact you and/or your world? See if He is trying to get your attention about something that you thought no one else knew about besides you. Remember, He brought in the king of Babylon to attack the Israelites and even kill off some of the people in the temple. Do you suppose there is a limit to what He might do to get your attention?
PRAYER: Lord, I believe that You show Your love for us in many, many ways. Often this may be through blessings that we enjoy every day. However, that will never get our attention to correct the wrongs that we do, so You are forced to discipline us in order to effectively change our course of action, and in order to draw us closer to You. Lord, may we be grateful in the good things that we are quick to acknowledge and give You praise for. However, please help us to recognize the steering currents that You use to change our course of direction that was leading us to disobedience or disrespect. Lord, may You be glorified in every way through us, and may God receive honor and glory from all things. AMEN!
SCRIPTURE FROM: 2 Chronicles 35:17-18 (TLB)
TEXT: 17 Everyone present in Jerusalem took part in the Passover observance, and this was followed by the Feast of Unleavened Bread for the next seven days. 18 Never since the time of Samuel the prophet had there been such a Passover—not one of the kings of Israel could vie with King Josiah in this respect, involving so many of the priests, Levites, and people from Jerusalem and from all parts of Judah, and from Israel.
OBSERVATION: It is interesting to note in these 2 verses how, under good leadership, the Israelites came to their senses, listened to their king, and followed him in worshiping the God of the universe for seven days as they celebrated the Passover. Something was different, but it worked. It encouraged them enough to participate willingly and honestly. Let’s look closer into how this happened, because we could definitely use more of this attitude and corporation today!
APPLICATION: There are so many churches that are either struggling to survive, or have already given up and closed their doors. However, there are flourishing churches that continue to grow almost weekly. Throughout the chapters leading up this one, we read where there were lots of issues and corrections by God, because the ruling kings did things that were not pleasing to God. However, at the very beginning of chapter 35 we are told that Josiah was a different kind of king, because he did what was pleasing to God. Friends, the same is true in business, we see where people will follow a good leader who is trying to grow themselves in their field of expertise, and develop good workers who will do the same. This benefits the company, who in turn, can develop more leaders and even better employees. But how does this benefit Christendom? How do we encourage the growth of the kingdom? I believe that it starts at the top. If our leaders are ‘on fire for the Lord’, then there is a chance in rekindling a fire in the pews. If our leaders are deep into the Word, and they make it a principal upon which they base their daily character and decision making, then what do you suppose the people who are following them will do? So my challenge today is for everyone who takes a leadership role in their company, or in their church. Will your followers be led astray based on whether you are growing; or by what you are saying; or by what you are doing? Without having to preach a sermon, do they have a clue where you stand with Christ? Will Jesus find you faithful, if He returns today to take His children home to glory? When God interviews those who worked for you or with you, do you suppose they saw enough of Jesus in you that it led them to seek Him personally? Jesus died, so that we may live eternally. The Bible is filled with examples of how Jesus lived a perfect life on earth. He is our mentor and our example. Please don’t allow any leader to lead you along a path contrary to God’s teachings. Remember, others are following you, and they want to see Jesus!
PRAYER: Father God, thank You for Jesus – the perfect Son of God. Thank You for showing us the way to live in a way that’s pleasing to You and that might also lead an unbeliever to the cross – to salvation. Please continue to guide us and direct our path each and every day. Please make us keenly aware of our character, especially when we are about to mess up. We want to be just like You Lord, so that others might follow the ways of Christ when they follow us. In love, humbleness, and much gratification we ask these things dear Lord, AMEN!
SCRIPTURE FROM: 2 Chronicles 33:12-13 (Voice)
TEXT: 12 From this position of complete powerlessness, Manasseh finally humbled himself and begged the forgiveness of the Eternal God of his fathers. 13 He heard Manasseh’s prayer and found it sincere; He returned Manasseh to the throne in Jerusalem. From that day forward, Manasseh never doubted that the Eternal was the True God.
OBSERVATION: The evidence of a stubborn child who was given lots of power at a young age, is evident in the first 11 verses of this chapter. A young man who watched his dad rule most his life under the watch-care of the Almighty God, yet Manasseh joined in with those who opposed God and together they turned their country totally around to serve the evil one. As a last resort in trying to regain the hearts of Manasseh and his people, God was forced to the very extreme. He sent the Assyrian army in to capture Manasseh and to totally disrupt his people. In spite of all his evil doings, Manasseh finally called out to God during his awful punishment by the Assyrians. And in spite of all that Manasseh did, God still listened to his cry, forgave him, and took him safely back home. Did you ever think that your deeds were much too evil to approach a holy God?
APPLICATION: Can you think of a time that you felt like you were so far from God, that you felt estranged from Him, and you wondered who you could possibly call on now? If we were to be honest, I believe that we would all agree that there were certain times in our life since accepting Jesus as Lord, that this occurred to us. What a distant feeling. What a lost and alone time for us. A time that we felt like no one cared what happened to us. So what caused this, friends? Do you supposed there was a purpose in this by God? I believe that all too often we know very well why God is disciplining us individually. To the outside world, they have seen only the side of you that you opened up to them, but with God, there are no secrets. For He knows the very hairs on our head, and He knows the very innermost thoughts that we have. Isn’t that scary? Or shall I say, mind-sobering to the extent that we realize that we can remove the ‘wall’ that we’ve been hiding behind, or sheltering ourselves behind, from those that we would just as soon not be privy to those actions, words or thoughts. So why do you suppose that God finds it necessary to make us go through these challenging times in life? Allow me to give you a real life example: last week a retired missionary asked for prayer for her grandson who told his missionary parents that he felt haunted by an evil spirit, who was following him around. The church body gathered around and prayed over these grandparents on behalf of their troubled grandson. I followed up on that request this week, and the grandmother shared about a strange encounter that her daughter had with a lady she met over recent days who shared a concern about her son being troubled by what felt like an evil spirit following him around! The daughter explained to this non-christian how the prayers of her family and home church prayed to God for the same thing that was happening to her son, and how God removed those thoughts from her son! So why does evil things come our way at times? Well, they came to Manasseh to open the door for God to work in his life, for the good of his nation and for the glory of God. Why did this evil spirit interfere in this your grandson’s life, it could have been for the sole purpose of opening the eyes of this nonbeliever and to draw her to the God who loves her and her son who was impacted by an evil spirit. It is not our jobs to question dear one, but rather to open our hearts to Jesus and allow Him to have His perfect will in our lives, for His precious glory, and for the eternal welfare of those that He touches, even through us.
PRAYER: Precious Lord, have thine own way in us today. You took Manasseh to a very low point in his life in order to get his attention, and to turn his eyes towards the living God. His redirection in life caused his people to worship his God in lieu of the many gods they knew and worshiped. I pray that we might learn from this experience with our ancestor, and consecrate our lives wholly and solely to the one true God, who has our best interest at heart. In turn, I pray that God will start a new work within us and through us, so that He might be glorified through everyone that we come into contact with. AMEN!
SCRIPTURE FROM: 2 Chronicles 31:20-21 (NLT)
TEXT: 20 In this way, King Hezekiah handled the distribution throughout all Judah, doing what was pleasing and good in the sight of the Lord his God. 21 In all that he did in the service of the Temple of God and in his efforts to follow God’s laws and commands, Hezekiah sought his God wholeheartedly. As a result, he was very successful.
OBSERVATION: King Hezekiah may not have had the best army, and he may not have been highly regarded by the leaders of his neighboring countries, but I believe that God saw one of His children who was first of all ‘a child of the King’ and then a king of his country. He saw a man who put God first in everything and who shared his personal concerns with God for the best resolution. I wonder how our world would change if we sought God first in everything, and we waited for His response and direction!
APPLICATION: As we read the Scripture that leads up to our chosen verses, we see quite a contrast between King Hezekiah and his neighboring kings reigning at that same time. There was evidence of self pride, selfishness, mockery of God, and a display of selfish power, compared to a humble heart, a serving spirit and an obedient servant. There was self dependence and lots of soldiers, compared to a man that sought the power and leadership of His God. I love the way the verses are translated in the New Living Translation, for it indicates that because of Hezekiah’s wholehearted dedication to God, he was very successful. This tells me that because Hezekiah dedicating his life to; having total faith in; and trusting wholeheartedly in the King that he served, God made him successful in all that he did. So where do we fail in similar scenarios to those that Hezekiah faced? Friends, I believe that it begins with making the God, who gave His only Son to die on a cross for our sin, a top priority in our lives. This means that if we get nothing else done in our day, we make time to be alone with God – to praise Him for all that He does for us, and to place our concerns at His feet asking to take charge of those things. Further, that you calendar out all meetings that you feel will draw you closer to God, and manage all other invitations as secondary – after all who is your priority? Seek God for all small life decisions, but also the huge decisions. Allow God to be your God, and ready yourself to worship and praise Him as you see Him actively involved in your life. Look at the Scripture again: because of Hezekiah’s wholehearted devotion to God, He made him very successful. Let me encourage you to repeat this statement frequently: ‘because of ____________ (your name) devotion to God, I know that He will meet my needs and make me successful.’ Praise the precious name of Jesus!
PRAYER: Lord, please touch the hearts of Your children and make us wholly devoted to You. Help us to understand true devotion, and that it’s not measured by the number of times that we attend church in a week, but by our total devotion , trust and obedience in You. May we be children of the Book, and may it be evident whose we are, through the things that we say, do and think. I ask these things in the strong name of Jesus, AMEN!