5) Then Hezekiah invited all of Israel and Judah, with personal letters to
Ephraim and Manasseh, to come to The Temple of God in Jerusalem to celebrate
the Passover to Israel's God…. And they sent out the invitation from one end of
the country to the other, from Beersheba in the south to Dan in the north: "Come and celebrate the Passover to
Israel's God in Jerusalem," No one
living had ever celebrated it properly.
The king gave the orders, and the couriers delivered the invitation from the
king and his leaders throughout Israel and Judah. The invitation read: "O Israelites! Come back to God, the God of Abraham, Isaac,
and Israel, so that he can return to you who have survived the predations of
the kings of Assyria. Don't repeat the
sins of your ancestors who turned their backs on God, the God of their
ancestors who then brought them to ruin--you can see the ruins all around
you. Don't be pigheaded as your
ancestors were. Clasp God's outstretched
hand. Come to his Temple of holy
worship, consecrated for all time. Serve
God, your God. You'll no longer be in
danger of his hot anger. If you come
back to God, your captive relatives and children will be treated
compassionately and allowed to come home.
Your God is gracious and kind and won't snub you--come back and he'll
welcome you with open arms.
THINK: As you read, listen for a new perspective on
the way life is, or the way God is, that stands out to you today. Perhaps you will notice that God can have
dangerously "hot anger," yet under other circumstances he is tender
and open to a people who have walked far away from intimacy with him. Maybe you'll be struck by the pigheadedness
that kept some Israelites from taking "God's outstretched hand."
PRAY: Study the perspective you've absorbed,
looking at it from different angles and holding it up against different
experiences you've hand. Do you ever
fear approaching God because you worry he might snub you? Have you ever refused grace? Consider a specific situation. Then become aware of God's presence with you. Tell him what was going on during that
time. How does the God of this passage
(offering his "outstretched hand" to the Israelites) compare to your
image of God in that situation?
have frequently worried that God might snub me and, many times, that fear has
kept me from approaching him boldly. It
has kept me from feeling like I could hold Him to His word. The Bible is full of promises. I know this.
But it's so much easier to believe that those promises will hold true
for others than for me, especially when I'm in the throes of a pity party. I constantly have to remind myself of the
verse that says that God is no respecter of persons. I know that verse was referring to judgment,
but wouldn't it also extend to his promises.
If His grace is sufficient for you, then it must be sufficient for me
too. If his provision, his timing, his
love are always perfect for you, then, they must always be perfect for me, as
well. So then…that means the problem is
not God, but me. Refusing to reach out
and grab hold of God's hand because I fear He will snub me says more about me
than it does about him. It says I have a
friend of mine once gave me an analogy that, I think, fits this situation
there's a chair in front of you. Do you
ever wonder if the chair is going to hold you up before you sit in it? If it looks rickety, maybe. But if it looks new, if it looks sound, you
just sit. You don't stop and
wonder. That's faith. It isn't faith until you place your bottom on
the seat and let it have your full weight.
It's not faith to think the chair can hold you. It's not even faith to know that the manufacturer
says it can hold up to 200 pounds. Faith
comes with the sitting and resting on the chair, trusting that it won't crumble
under you and let you fall hard on your backside.
have to admit: for a huge chunk of my
life, I have not had that kind of faith.
I've had the dip-my-toes-in-the-water kind of faith. Yes, I can swim. But, yes, I could also drown. I've let fear of drowning keep me from
plunging into the depths of this walk of Christianity. This time 18+ months ago, I was operating on
faith. I took a plunge. A scary one.
And for the better part of the last 18 months, it has felt like a sat on
a chair that gave way underneath my weight.
But I think what I'm finally starting to see is that I had constructed
the chair that I tried to sit on. Jesus
was not my foundation. No…my foundation
had been the carefully constructed plan I had made for my life, and that had
pretty much worked out the way I thought it would. Sure, there had been times when all I had to
go on was actual faith. Many times. What I have discovered over this last
year-and-a-half is that those time when I was operating purely on faith in the
Lord were times when I was struggling, times when I knew there was no way I
could help myself out of the situation I was in. All I could do was obey God, every day, and
pray that He knew what was best for me and that His plan would work itself
out. And it did. Every.
Single. Time. That simple fact is the one thing that has
kept me afloat since this whole thing started.
Everything hard I've ever had to go through, for which I've had nothing
to rely on other than God, has worked out just exactly the way it needed
to. And, it was not over one second
sooner than it needed to be, and it didn't last one second longer than He
needed it to.
I snubbed God's grace? Sure. Who hasn't?
But the one area where I have not, the one area that I never really
realized that grace was active and abundant in my life: perseverance.
It takes grace to persevere.
There have been many days where, by the end of the day, I was "SO
DONE." But the grace of God is that
tomorrow does not have to be like today.
And I can get up and do what I need to do tomorrow because I need to get
up and do it. I have children at home,
watching me. If I give up, what kind of
example will I be setting? Do they see
me low? Of course. There have been days when I have told them
that I just need a "mental health day" and they have to go to their
rooms and I go to mine, and "we" let me recover. My youngest is not fond of having to spend
too much time alone, so this is practically punishment for him. This means that I have to use a lot of
finesse when I am breaking this news to him.
Lots of reassurance that he is NOT in trouble is often needed. So, I cannot take these days often. Besides, it feels indulgent. And not in a good way. I know, deep down, what I really NEED most on
those days is to get up and do something for someone else. But sometimes, it takes me a little bit to
remember that. So, once I do, I get up,
get over myself, and get on with life. I
think that is a measure of grace as well.
dear readers, I don't know where you are in life, right now. Maybe you are going through a hard time and
feel like nothing is making sense and like you are struggling just to make it
through the day. Maybe you are a mom,
living for naptime and bedtime because you feel like you are going to go
crazy. Maybe you are a dad just hoping
you don't screw up your kids because you are the man of the house and there is
more pressure associated with this job than you ever dreamed. I have just one prayer for you, just one word
going. Don't stop. God will meet you every single step of the
way. When you find that He isn't meeting
you, or you feel like you haven't heard from Him in a while, pull back from
your "schedule" and see if maybe you haven't run ahead of God. He has plenty of grace for the step you are
on, but you have to stay on the step He wants you on. Otherwise, you are just running on your own
steam. And, eventually, you are going to
run out of steam altogether.
LIVE: Close your time today by saying the Lord's
Prayer. Speak the words aloud very
slowly. Picture the righteous but
compassionate God described in this passage, the One who is hearing your prayer
now: "Our Father in heaven, reveal
who you are. Set the world right, do
what's best--as above, so below. Keep us
alive with three square meals. Keep us
forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep up safe from ourselves and the Devil. You're in charge! You can do anything you want! You're ablaze with beauty! Yes.
Yes. Yes. (Matthew 6:9-13)
pray you all have a blessed day! Take
care of yourselves. And remember, God
gives us EACH DAY our DAILY BREAD. We
don't get to keep yesterday's bread. And
he won't lend us the bread for tomorrow.
Trust that he has rationed you just enough bread for today because He
loves you fully. Today. And because He wants you to trust Him for
tomorrow's ration tomorrow, He has set aside for you a ration for tomorrow as
well. He is already there. He has a place prepared for you. So, walk today, trusting that today He's got
you covered; and tomorrow, He will too.