A Changed Life

Imagine a twelve-year-old becoming absolute ruler of a nation. His every command would be law–a situation that might cause a few problems. And it did. Here’s the story.

After ruling Judah for twenty-nine years, King Hezekiah died, and his twelve-year-old son became king. But unlike his father, Manasseh had no intention of serving God. He took up sorcery, divination, and witchcraft. He consulted mediums and psychics. He quickly set up pagan altars and encouraged idol worship all over the country–even within the Lord God’s Temple in Jerusalem. Ignoring God’s patient warnings, he led the people into more evil than all the nations around them.

Finally, God sent the cruel Assyrians to invade Judah. They captured Manasseh and led him away to prison in Babylon.

Did Manasseh cry out for his pagan idols to save him? No. He turned to the Lord God Almighty whom his good father had served. “And when he prayed, the Lord listened to him and was moved by his request for help” (2 Chronicles 33:13, New Living Translation). God then restored Manasseh to his throne in Judah.

This amazing experience brought Manasseh to his senses. Now realizing that the Lord alone is God, he changed. He destroyed every foreign idol and restored the Lord’s altar in the Temple at Jerusalem. There he worshiped the Lord God and encouraged his people to do the same.

Can a bad boy or girl turn good? Yes! God promises that no matter how bad our past, we can humbly turn to God, be forgiven and live a changed life.

Focus: “If a wicked man turns away from all the sins he has committed … none of the offenses he has committed will be remembered against him.” ~Ezekiel 18:21-22, New Living Translation.

What about you? Do you know someone who, with the Lord’s help, left a bad past to live a changed life? Please share.

 

Please Press the Prayer Button

I was so sick when I arrived at the doctor’s office that he sent me straight to the hospital. After a nurse settled me in bed, she showed me how to summon help. “Just push this button,” she said, indicating a palm-sized mechanism with a white button on one end.

An hour later, the room began to spin, slowly at first, but then rapidly picking up speed.  I didn’t realize that my temperature was spiking. All I knew was that I couldn’t find that button. I called to my roommate, “Please! Press the button!”

She pushed hers frantically.

“Yes?”

“Hurry! She’s in trouble!”

In moments, four nurses surrounded me, working feverishly, their faces tense and their voices controlled. Gradually, the room slowed its spinning and stopped.

Though ten days later I went home, it was another six months before I fully recovered. Even so, I remained grateful to my roommate who pushed the button that summoned help.

We all need help but sometimes are unable to call for it ourselves. It’s at times like these that we are thankful for those who notice and come to our aid. Precious are those who provide what’s needed. Just as precious are those who let us know, “I knew you were in trouble and I prayed.”

Fortunately, prayer is one button we all have access to, one that calls out to Almighty God. Do you know someone who is ill? Does your heart ache because someone you care about is making harmful choices? Does a crisis threaten someone you know? Please press the prayer button! Don’t hesitate to pour out your heart to God on their behalf.

Focus: “Pray for each other … the earnest prayer of a righteous man has great power and wonderful results” ~ James 5:16, The Living Bible.

How about you? Can you recall a time when someone pressed the prayer button for you? Please share.

 

Satisfied with Life?

What if God invited you to ask him for whatever you want and he would give it to you? What would you say?

Young King Solomon of Israel knew what to say. He asked for wisdom to govern. This pleased God so much that he also gave the young man riches and honor (1 Kings 3:1-14, New Living Translation).

Sure enough, Solomon’s wisdom brought him fame. As a powerful politician, he lived at peace with the nations around him. As a master builder, he erected beautiful palaces for himself and his wives and a magnificent Temple to God. A hard worker, he pursued his every interest with a passion. A wealthy man, he denied himself nothing.

Yet when his life was nearly over, he looked back and wrote, “Everything is meaningless … utterly meaningless” Ecclesiates 1:1).

How sad! He had spent his life on everything the world had to offer, and in the end, felt all that he had achieved and acquired meant nothing.

How different life was for Paul, who lived centuries later. Called to spread the Good News about Jesus Christ, Paul never wavered. Leaving everything behind, he traveled the known world and pursued his life’s work of  knowing, loving, and serving God with a passion. He knew times of joy and suffering, poverty and plenty, but he never abandoned God’s purpose for his life.

When the time of his death drew near, he wrote, “As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God … I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me” (2 Timothy 4:6-8). Paul was satisfied. From the moment of his calling, he had spent his life well. He had made a meaningful difference in this world and looked forward to receiving his eternal reward.

  • Is a life of knowing, loving, and serving God and others worthwhile? Yes!
  • Can we do this in the midst of our everyday circumstances? Yes!
  • If we do, will we come to the end of life satisfied with how we spent our time on earth? Yes!
  • And it’s never too late to begin.

Even Solomon–though he lived for pleasure–was wise enough in the end to realize the truth and leave the following advice.

Focus: “Fear (hold in high esteem) God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of every person” ~ Ecclesiastes 12:13, New Living Translation.

What about you? If God invited you to ask him for anything you wanted, what would you say? How might that affect the rest of your life?

A Great investment Opportunity

I admit it. I have no idea what  it means to be rich, but–bless his heart–a rich young man came running up to Jesus and knelt down to ask, “What should I do to get eternal life?”

When Jesus pointed him to the Ten Commandments, the young man assured him that he had obeyed them since he was a child.

“There is still one thing you lack,” Jesus said (Luke 18:22, New Living Translation). He invited the young man  to sell all he had, give to the poor, and follow him.

You could almost hear the young man gasp. Jesus had put his finger on the one barrier between this young man and whole-hearted devotion to God. He went away sad because he was very rich.

This  makes me wonder what Jesus might point to in our lives as barriers between him and us. Where do we invest too much time and devotion? In beautifying our homes? In challenging work? In our investment portfolios? A hobby or sport? A relationship that draws us away from him? Maybe it is none of these. Maybe it’s something entirely different.

One thing is certain. Putting love for God first in our lives is a great investment for both the present and future. To the rich young man, Jesus had promised “treasures in heaven.” To his disciples who had given up everything to follow him, he promised they would receive “many times over in this life” and eternal life.

Removing the barrier–giving it up entirely, or reducing its place in our lives–may be costly. We may be reluctant and wonder as Peter did, “What will we get out of it?” (Matthew 19:27, New Living Translation).

But we have nothing to fear. God will make it up to us with great blessings and joy. Our lives will not be less. They will be greatly improved! What Jesus told his disciples long ago is true for us today.

Focus: “I assure you, everyone who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, will be repaid many times over in this life, as well as receiving eternal life in the world to come.”(Luke 18:29, New Living Translation).

How about you? What might Jesus point out as a barrier between you and him? Are you ready to remove it–with God’s help, of course?