A King’s Courageous Faith

King Hezekiah was a rare breed. The thing that made him one of a kind was that he so implicitly trusted God. He trusted God so much that he was willing to demolish all the places where any idols were worshipped.

This kind of focus on one God alone — this readiness to obey the first commandment — had not occurred since the time of David. Hezekiah even destroyed the bronze serpent that Moses had made in the wilderness to save the Israelites from venemous snakes. It too had become an idol, so in Hezekiah’s mind it had to go — no matter that Moses himself had made it.

Whatever came, Hezekiah put God first. Sennacherib, the powerful emperor of the Assyrian empire, threatened the Israelites with utter destruction of their homeland and then deportation. Hezekiah took these threats and put them before the Lord. God would know how to handle Sennacherib, he was confident of that.

I love it when we get to watch a man like Hezekiah in action. He is such an example of a courageous faith. His dedication to the Lord makes me want to be just as dedicated. His willingness to obey God makes me want to be obedient. And his trust that the Lord was with him makes me want to put my entire trust in Jesus that he is with me.

I want to have the courageous faith of a king like Hezekiah.

Hezekiah is a great reminder too that when I fall short (as I often do!), Jesus is the ultimate king. There’s truly no one who is a king like Jesus. He held fast to his Heavenly Father, and he kept all his commands. And he did this for us!

The Heavenly Father was with him. Christ’s crucifixion and sacrifice wins forgiveness for me when my faith wavers. His resurrection and ascension to God’s right hand show me that my faith in Jesus will ultimately be rewarded with my own resurrection and victory.

“Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. He held fast to the Lord and did not stop following him; he kept the commands the Lord had given Moses. And the Lord was with him; he was successful in whatever he undertook” (2 Kings 18:5-7a, NIV).

Our Bible reading for Thursday, July 9, is 2 Kings 18:1 – 19:13, Acts 27:13-44, and Psalm 82:1-8.

Lord, send me your Holy Spirit through my study of your word and my reception of the sacraments, so that he may build up my faith to be like the faith of Hezekiah. And where I have failed to trust as simply and singularly as Hezekiah, forgive me through the merits of your Son, my one and only King, Jesus.

Header image based on "Jesus crown of thorns - West Pier Brighton" by Leonski Oh Leonski, CC By 2.0

God’s Kingdom, Built to Grow

Jesus encountered a great deal of opposition as he went around teaching the gospel, healing and helping people.

There was the obvious opposition of people like the Pharisees and other religious leaders among the Jews. But there was also the more hidden opposition of people who heard the message, but didn’t respond to it.

Jesus tackled this opposition head-on. He warned about a fig tree that didn’t produce fruit. He also sternly addressed people like the Pharisees — and did so very directly, calling them “hypocrites.”

With all this resistance to the gospel message, one might naturally wonder, “Does God’s kingdom even have a hope? Does the gospel have a prayer?”

How easy it would have been for the disciples to become discouraged. They had left everything to follow Jesus. They had boldly confessed and declared that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah, the hope of the world, the Redeemer of all mankind.

But with this kind of constant opposition? What should they expect now? Would their work all end up amounting to nothing?

Perhaps this is why Jesus reminded everyone that his kingdom is designed to grow. The gospel is a powerful force. It will not return empty! It will always have an impact on hearts and minds.

How important it is we remember this! Because today too, we live in a world that seems so opposed to the gospel. We ourselves have hearts that most naturally resist Jesus, and his message of grace, mercy and forgiveness.

We too may become discouraged — until we hear Jesus remind us, as he first reminded the disciples: “My kingdom is built to grow! It is as natural as a tiny mustard seed growing into a tree. It is as expected as yeast penetrating throughout an entire lump of dough.”

“Then Jesus asked, ‘What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.’ Again he asked, ‘What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.'” (Luke 13:18-21, NIV).

Lord, thank you for reassuring me that you designed your kingdom to grow. I know there is great opposition to the gospel in our world, and I sometimes get discouraged by this. But your promises about your kingdom encourage me. Bless my efforts to share the gospel with others who do not yet know it.

Our Bible reading for Friday, April 10, is Deuteronomy 13:1 – 14:29, Luke 13:1-30 and Proverbs 9:1-12.

Header image based on "Mustard seeds" by Jessica Spengler, CC By 2.0

To Serve and Sacrifice

Jesus pointed his disciples to true greatness.

When James and John asked Jesus if they could be the ones to sit on Jesus’ right and left hand in heaven, Jesus was not offended by their wish. Later on, however, when the other disciples heard about it, they were not so kind.

The Bible calls them “indignant.”

Jesus simply uses this as a “teachable moment” for the disciples. He huddles them up and reminds them of the things he had taught them. They are not to operate the way the world around them operates.

He helps them recall all that he had demonstrated to them. They are to follow in Jesus’ footsteps.

To serve and sacrifice — that’s why Jesus came.

And that is the way to greatness in God’s kingdom. Service and sacrifice.

“Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43-45, NIV).

Our Bible reading for Sunday, March 1, is Leviticus 5:14 – 7:10, Mark 10:32-52 and Proverbs 6:12-19.

Lord, help me to serve and sacrifice for others, as you first served and sacrificed for me. Thank you for being truly great, because your greatness is my eternal salvation.

Header image based on "Close up eye red - Jesus - Cross" by Gerardofegan, CC By 2.0

Better Broken than Crushed

What would your decision be if you were presented with the following choice: “Would you rather be broken or crushed?”

Mine would be “option C.”

I mean, really?! Broken or crushed. What kind of choice is that?

Well… actually…

It was the choice Jesus presented to the chief priests and the elders in Jerusalem as he was completing his ministry.

Those priests and elders were not in a particularly receptive mood as Jesus entered Jerusalem. Though the crowds sung praises, and spread their cloaks on the road for Jesus, the religious leaders refused to believe.

While the children sang “Hosanna to the Son of David,” the priests and elders simply got angry. Up in arms, they took Jesus to task. And Jesus responded with the choice.

“Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the Scriptures:

The stone the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone;
the Lord has done this,
    and it is marvelous in our eyes’?

‘Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed'” (Matthew 21:42-44, NIV).

So what about you? After hearing that, wouldn’t you agree it would be much better to be broken than crushed?

Fall on Jesus in faith, broken by your sins, and he will heal you.

Don’t fall on Jesus, because you’re too proud, or too busy, or too preoccupied, or simply determined to remain unbroken… then, please, please hear Jesus’ clear warning.

Lord, Jesus, my sinful nature is so strong. In my own heart, I’m often just like the priests and elders. Instead of trusting you and embracing your promises of healing and forgiveness, in pride or in fear I reject them. I don’t want to be crushed, even though that’s what I deserve. I am broken by my sins. Send your Spirit, so that my cold heart becomes a heart willing to fall on you in faith, and be healed.

Our Bible reading for Monday, February 2, is Job 25:1 – 29:25, Matthew 21:33 – 22:14 and Psalm 18:7-15.

Header image based on "Glass" by Belli, CC by 2.0