TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- 2 CHRONICLES 30:1-31:21
Hezekiah’s reign began with real repentance and a renewed commitment to pleasing the Lord. After opening the temple doors, he purged the temple of defiling debris and restored worship to the lives of God’s people.
He wanted to bring the people back to the basic understanding of their identity, their heritage and purpose. They owed their existence to what was indisputably Divine Intervention. God provided their deliverance from slavery and the sentence of death according to His Promise in the Passover Lamb.
Yet for many years, the Passover had been forgotten. The feasts were no longer celebrated. Hezekiah pushed for the reinstatement of the Passover Feast. Although there were not enough consecrated priests to celebrate it at the time appointed in the Law of Moses, Hezekiah inquired of the Lord and sensed that God’s mercy would let them postpone it one month.
He sent out invitations to all the tribes via couriers. Yet the people of Ephraim, Manasseh and some of Zebulun mocked, scorned and ridiculed the invitation. This shows how detached the people were from the history of their redemption. Some from Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun humbled themselves and went to Jerusalem. Others proudly resisted. He also asked the Lord to pardon those who had not been able to consecrate themselves in time for the feast. The Lord heard Hezekiah’s prayers and honored Hezekiah’s efforts to reinstate the feast.
The identity, unity, and fellowship of God’s people must be grounded in the reality of redemption, the truth of the Passover Lamb. We must recognize our sin and the reality that sin has incurred the wrath of God and deserves the punishment of death. We must appeal to God’s mercy shown to us in the Passover Lamb, prophetically pointing to Jesus Christ as the perfect atoning substitutionary sacrifice on the Cross.
It is vital that we remember what is provided for us in the Cross of Christ. This is why Jesus calls us to remember His death every time we take the cup and break bread. We have this redemption history in common. He died in our place. We died in Him and He now lives in us. Through faith in Him we become partakers of the One life that came out of that empty tomb. In our church life we need to be continually reminded of this. We need to consistently humble ourselves before the cross and realize that we owe our all to what Jesus accomplished on our behalf, as our Passover Lamb (1 Cor 5:7). The fellowship of the church (the shared Life of the members) is the byproduct of the cross.
2 Chronicles 30:26 26 So there was great joy in Jerusalem, because there was nothing like this in Jerusalem since the days of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel.
The reinstatement of the Passover led to a spiritual revival. Pagan altars and high places were demolished.
Once again Hezekiah led by example. He contributed from his own possessions the morning and evening burnt offerings (2 Chron 31:3).
He then encourages the people to bring a tithe of everything. There was a three-month period of special giving. (31:4-8).
Hezekiah ordered that storerooms be prepared to receive more offerings.
The Chronicler gives this summary of Hezekiah’s life:
2 Chronicles 31:20-21 20 Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah; and he did what was good, right and true before the LORD his God. 21 Every work which he began in the service of the house of God in law and in commandment, seeking his God, he did with all his heart and prospered.
LESSON: In July of 1961, the famous football coach met with 38 members of the Green Bay Packers football team. The previous season had ended with a humiliating defeat when they lost the NFL championship to the Philadelphia Eagles. He began a tradition of starting the season from scratch. He began his speech to the team with the most elemental principle- “Gentlemen”, he said, holding the pigskin in his hand, “this is a football.”
His methodical coverage of the basics began every subsequent training season. King Hezekiah knew that he needed to get the nation back to appreciating their roots in the Sovereign Saving Acts of their God in the Passover.
What about you? Let us hold up the finished work of redemption that Jesus accomplished on the cross- His death, burial, resurrection and ascension, and say, “Gentlemen, this is Christianity.”
TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT – ROMANS 15:1-22.
Love compels us to live for the benefit of others.
Paul makes a plea for selfless concern among the believers, appealing to the example of Christ who pleased not Himself.
Verse 4 reminds us of the benefit of studying the Old Testament:
Romans 15:4 4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
This benediction focuses us on the Hope of the Gospel:
Romans 15:13 13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Our hope comes from believing the gospel. It is a hope that is birthed in us by the Holy Spirit.
Paul gives us a snapshot of how a healthy church behaves:
A healthy church draws from that One Life that came out of the tomb. The One Spirit is the spirit of unity that knits our hearts together in love.
Romans 15:6 6 so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This letter is a pastoral one, and Paul appeals that both Jews and Gentiles properly appreciate and accept one another as members of this One body of which Christ is the head.
Paul shares his pioneer church-planting ambition in Romans 15:20:
Romans 15:20 20 And thus I aspired to preach the gospel, not where Christ was already named, so that I would not build on another man’s foundation.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS-
Psalm 25 has been put to song in many different ways.
Here is the Graham Kendrick version:
Or the Maranatha Singers
This is a great psalm to pray out loud. It is a good public prayer and a good private prayer, exemplifying essentials of our relationship with Him.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS
Proverbs 20:13-15 13 Do not love sleep, or you will become poor; Open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with food. 14 “Bad, bad,” says the buyer, but when he goes his way, then he boasts. 15 There is gold, and an abundance of jewels; But the lips of knowledge are a more precious thing.
PRAY FOR THE NATIONS- KENYA
(p. 502-504 “Operation World Prayer Journal”)
Republic of Kenya
Area: 582,646 sq. km
Most people live in the fertile plateaus of the south and west. Much of the north and east is desert. Only 8.9% of the land is cultivable.
Population: 40,862,900 Annual Growth: 2.67%
Official language: English, Swahili Languages: 74
Largest Religion: Christian
Challenges for Prayer
Bibles and Bible translation. Most languages have Scripture portions, and 16 indigenous languages have the whole Bible. Pray for the invaluable work of The Bible Society (UBS) and of SIL and the related, but indigenous, work of Bible Translation & Literacy. Together they handle most of the translation, printing and distribution of Scripture, as well as the demanding task of increasing literacy to maximize the impact of the translated Word.
Kenya remains a regional and continental hub for Christian mission, theological education and church ministry. The troubles in the region make this reality all the more strategic.
Kenya has a massive evangelical presence. Nearly 50% of the population identify themselves as such (from 17% in 1960)
Corruption is rampant and systemic. Nominal Christianity abounds. Task forces are targeting corruption, but it is so entrenched that terrorist and international drug traffickers use Kenya as a key hub. Corruption within the state mechanism themselves must be cleaned up before anything else can be. A just and honest government that will uplift the poor and punish the wicked is vital for Kenya to move forward.
PRAYER: Lord, center our lives at the cross. Cause us to remember Your great love and sacrifice displayed at Calvary where You offered Yourself as our Passover Lamb. Our identity, our destiny and our purpose are found there. Our unity is found here. We are reduced to the common denominator- all we have to boast in is that which comes out of that death- the resurrection life of Christ. And it is this life that we share with our brothers and sisters. Help us to edify them, to love them and serve them with Your love, in Jesus’ Name. Amen