Promised Disaster Averted

What if you were sixteen years old and suddenly made president of the United States of America? What would you do?

Long ago, Josiah faced that horrendous problem when made king of Judah. For the next four years he sought God for wisdom for his chaotic land. Then, realizing the nation’s troubles were a direct result of the stench of the people’s sins and disregard for God, he set about to cleanse his country. He ordered all carved idols and cast images, all pagan shrines and altars and Asherah poles torn down and destroyed. It took six years.

Next, he sent for workers from all over the land to come to the Temple in Jerusalem. They set to work repairing, renovating, and restoring the magnificent worship center that Judah’s earlier kings had let fall into ruin.

In the midst of this work, the High Priest Hilkiah found the Book of the Law of the Land and sent it to the young king. Josiah tore his clothes in despair. “The Lord’s anger has been poured out against us  because our ancestors have not obeyed the Word of the Lord, “he cried. He then sent Hilkiah and others to ask the Lord what they must do.

The prophetess Huldah gave them a message from God. Yes, the curses written in God’s Word would come to pass because the people had abandoned him and worshiped other gods. But, because the king had humbled himself and wept before the Lord, wanting to change his ways and the ways of his nation, God would not send the promised disaster during his lifetime.

Josiah took swift action. He summoned all the people to the Temple. There he read the entire Book of the Covenant and renewed that covenant with God. He pledged to keep its commandments with all his heart and soul and required his people to do the same.

Everyone made a fresh start. Throughout Josiah’s lifetime, they worshiped only the Lord God. They lived in obedience to his Word, and God blessed them for it.

We now live in times where our nation is in great danger. The people in these United States live largely ignorant of the great precepts of our United States Constitution. They barely think of, much less prize, its amazing freedoms which are fast eroding before our very eyes. As a result, these freedoms given to us by God who impressed them on the hearts of our founding fathers may soon disappear.

Unless we turn away from our selfishness and turn back to honoring God and this country which he raised up as a haven where all men (and women) are created equal, we have little hope. Yet it’s not too late to choose God’s way and save our land. God’s Word states it clearly.

Focus: “Live in such a way that God’s love can bless you” ~ Jude 1:21, New Living Translation.

How about you? What can you do  so that God can bless you and our nation? How can you help turn things around in our nation?

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Diligence or Indifference?

Strong, a splendid outdoors man and skillful hunter, the red-haired young man was his father’s pride. What dreams his father must have had for his oldest son! One day–and what a day that would be, Esau would inherit Isaac’s powerful position and vast wealth. It was his right as the firstborn.

Yet …

The day came when, exhausted and famished,  Esau arrived home to find his brother–that mama’s boy–cooking a  stew. “Give me some of that, ” he demanded.

Jacob stirred the stew, releasing even more of its savory aroma. “Trade me your birthright for it,” he said.

Esau agreed! Sitting down, he ate freshly baked with the lentil stew, then got up and “went on about his business, indifferent to the fact that he had given up his birthright” ~ Genesis 25:30-34, New Living Translation.

An old saying warns us, “Don’t shoot yourself in the foot.” That is, don’t deliberately hurt yourself. Yet Esau did this, and we do, too.

How often have we resolved to change our less-than-helpful ways? But the moment we face the stress of following through, we buckle. We satisfy our immediate need and go on our way like Esau–indifferent to the harm we have done to ourselves.

What change would you like to accomplish with God’s help this year? Do you want to draw  nearer to him? Lead a life more pleasing to him Whatever good the Lord has put on your heart to attempt, hear the words of Jesus as he cheers you on.

Focus: “Be diligent and turn from your indifference. Look! … I will invite everyone who is victorious to sit with me on my throne” ~ Revelation 3:20-21, New Living Translation.

How about you? Are you indifferent to something in your life that needs changing? What’s holding you back from God’s best?

Glad Reunion

January’s fierce winds blew as I hurried toward the restaurant door. Tomorrow I would travel through several states to be with my sister as she buried her dear husband.

But first, I had an appointment made last week with a meeting planner who had invited me to speak at her church’s women’s retreat. With a heavy heart, I pushed open the door and stepped inside.

A blonde woman who looked vaguely familiar smiled at me. ‘Beth, you haven’t changed a bit!”

I thought of our phone conversation last week. “How much could I change in so little time?”

She looked puzzled but didn’t say anything. We settled in a booth where bright sunshine streamed through the window. I tried to listen as she talked, but the fresh news of my brother-in-law’s death made it hard to concentrate.

I watched her lips move. I know those lips! I squinted as I studied her face. I know that nose! And that face! Suddenly, it hit me. I last saw her many years ago when her hair had been dark brown.

“Are you–” I could hardly believe it. “–my Katy?”

She laughed, and her blue eyes crinkled in that familiar merriment. “You mean you didn’t know?”

How could I? In the years since her first husband’s death, we had lost track of one another. I had no idea that she had remarried and changed her hair color.

Oh, oh, oh! In a surge of excitement, we jumped up and hugged one another fiercely, then quickly settled back in the booth. We couldn’t talk fast enough to catch up on the past thirty-five years. Laughing and re-living our high school memories as best friends, we enjoyed our happy reunion. Four hours vanished before we reluctantly parted company, still excited and glad that the women’s retreat’s was not far off.

On the way home, I thanked God for this time of joy in the midst of our family’sorrow. He gently turned my thoughts to another glad reunion.

In God’s economy, a Christian’s death is not the end of life. It’s a new beginning. It’s a transition into a glorious, face-to-face life with him. A time of no more sorrow, pain, sickness, or death. A time of glad reunion with Jesus and our dear family and friends who have gone to be with him before us.

Focus: “Blessed are those who die in the Lord” ~Revelation 14:13, New Living Translation.

How about you? How do you find comfort when a loved one dies?

New Life in the New Year

I watched in wonder as snow sifted like sugar from the January sky and transformed my backyard and the fields beyond. All day long it continued forming huge marshmallows of white fluff on my deck table and railings and blanketing my vista in a pristine white. My heart grew lighter and my steps more energetic.

It’s as if the Lord were reminding me, “I make all things new.”

Sometimes we need to remember that God makes all things new, including our lives–if we are willing. Check out for yourself some of those new things he offers:

  • New Life. When we become Christians, we become new persons. We are “not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun” (2 Corinthians 5:17*).
  • New Nature. God gives us “a brand-new nature that is continually being renewed as [we] learn more and more about Christ, who created this new nature within [us]” (Colossians 3:10*).
  • New Courage. He refreshes the humble and gives “new courage to those with repentant hearts” (Isaiah 57:15*).
  • New Heart. He gives us “a new heart with new and right desires” (Ezekiel 36:26*).
  • New Relationship. “So now we can rejoice in our wonderful relationship with God–all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us in making us friends of God” Romans 5:1*).

And in the future, God will give his children new bodies that will never get sick or die (I Corinthians 15:5). He will create a new heavens and a new earth that are so wonderful we’ll never again think about the old ones (Isaiah 65:17. We will live in a place without death, sorrow, crying or pain (Revelation 21:4).

As we begin this New Year, we can move into much more than the days to come. We can decide to move into the unfailing certainty of what our God assures us.

Focus: “Look, I am making all thing new!” ~ Revelation 21:5, New Living Translation.

How about you? Are you ready to step into the all things new the Lord God Almighty is offering you? If not, what’s holding you back from this newness of life? He’s waiting with arms opened wide.

*  All scriptures from the New living Translation of the Holy Bible.