Taking All the Best

Bible:

At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up to Jerusalem, and the city was besieged. And Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to the city while his servants were besieging it, and Jehoiachin the king of Judah gave himself up to the king of Babylon, himself and his mother and his servants and his officials and his palace officials. The king of Babylon took him prisoner in the eighth year of his reign and carried off all the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the king’s house, and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold in the temple of the Lord, which Solomon king of Israel had made, as the Lord had foretold. He carried away all Jerusalem and all the officials and all the mighty men of valor, 10,000 captives, and all the craftsmen and the smiths. None remained, except the poorest people of the land. And he carried away Jehoiachin to Babylon. The king’s mother, the king’s wives, his officials, and the chief men of the land he took into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon. And the king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon all the men of valor, 7,000, and the craftsmen and the metal workers, 1,000, all of them strong and fit for war. And the king of Babylon made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, king in his place, and changed his name to Zedekiah. II Kings 24:10-17 ESV

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8 ESV

Reflection:

Did you know that once there was a major league baseball player who had only one arm? His name was Pete Gray, and he had lost his arm when he was six in a truck accident. Pete Gray worked hard to overcome his loss, and he became a very good player. He could bat with one arm, and he could catch a ball with a glove on his one hand, toss the ball up while he tucked the glove under his other arm, then catch and throw the ball. Pete Gray played for the St. Louis Browns in 1945. He was only able to bat .218, and because he had to take a moment to toss the ball up after he caught it, runners often took an extra base on him. The reason he was able to play in the major leagues was because World War II was going on, and all the best players such as Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, and Stan Musial had had to go off and fight in the war. The military effort took the best players away from baseball, and other players like Pete Gray played instead.

The same kind of thing happened to the city of Jerusalem. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon besieged the capital city, and King Jehoiachin of Judah surrendered to him. Nebuchadnezzar took the king away to Babylon along with all his officials and his mighty soldiers the noble women and all the people who were skilled at crafts and the metal smiths. Nebuchadnezzar also took all the rich treasures out of Solomon’s temple. He set up a puppet king and changed his name to show that this new king was under his control. Nebuchadnezzar took everything that he thought was of any value, and just left the poor and common people in their land with their puppet king, Zedekiah.

What happened to Jerusalem is a little bit like what sin did to all of us. It took away from us anything good that we had to offer God, and all it left was weakness and helplessness. We were under the control of sin and death, but God had mercy on us and sent Jesus to rescue us. Jesus defeated sin and death by dying on the cross for us and coming back to life again. We are weak and helpless on our own, but with Jesus we are strong. He helps us every day and forgives our sins, and will give us life forever with him in his heavenly kingdom.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for loving us even though we were weak and helpless, and for giving us new life in you. Amen.

Source:

http://blogs.britannica.com/2012/07/baseball-war/

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A Curse Comes True

Bible:

Moreover, the altar at Bethel, the high place erected by Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, that altar with the high place [Josiah] pulled down and burned, reducing it to dust. He also burned the Asherah. And as Josiah turned, he saw the tombs there on the mount. And he sent and took the bones out of the tombs and burned them on the altar and defiled it, according to the word of the Lord that the man of God proclaimed, who had predicted these things. Then he said, “What is that monument that I see?” And the men of the city told him, “It is the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and predicted these things that you have done against the altar at Bethel.” And he said, “Let him be; let no man move his bones.” So they let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet who came out of Samaria. And Josiah removed all the shrines also of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which kings of Israel had made, provoking the Lord to anger. He did to them according to all that he had done at Bethel. II Kings 23:15-19 ESV

And behold, a man of God came out of Judah by the word of the Lord to Bethel. Jeroboam was standing by the altar to make offerings. And the man cried against the altar by the word of the Lord and said, “O altar, altar, thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, a son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name, and he shall sacrifice on you the priests of the high places who make offerings on you, and human bones shall be burned on you.’” I Kings 13:1-2 ESV

Reflection:

Have you ever heard of the curse of Tecumseh? Tecumseh was the chief of the Shawnee tribe, and in 1811 American forces, led by William Henry Harrison, went to war with the Shawnees and defeated them. In 1840 Harrison was elected as president of the United States, but he got very sick and died after only one month in office. Years later there was a story that Chief Tecumseh had put a curse, not only on President Harrison, but also on every future president of the United States elected in a year ending in zero. The curse was that that president would die while in office. Abraham Lincoln was elected in 1860, and he was assassinated in his second term. James Garfield was elected in 1880 and was assassinated, too. William McKinley was elected to his second term of office in 1900, and also was assassinated. Warren G. Harding was elected in 1920 and died of a stroke. Franklin Roosevelt was elected to his third term as president in 1940, and he died in 1945 near the beginning of his fourth term. John F. Kennedy was elected in 1960, and he was assassinated. Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980, but he didn’t die while he was in office even though he was older than presidents had been in the past. He served two terms and survived when a man shot and tried to kill him. Was the curse broken? Or was it all just a coincidence?

Strange coincidences happen, and sometimes people make up a story to explain them. No one knows that Chief Tecumseh ever put a curse on the presidents of the United States. But there was one curse that we know is true. When Jeroboam, the first king of the northern kingdom, built an altar to the golden calf he had made for his people to worship, a prophet of the Lord came and put a curse on the altar. He said that someday there would be a king from David’s line named Josiah who would burn human bones on the altar and make it unfit to serve any false god again. Many, many years later King Josiah cleared his own southern kingdom of false gods and goddesses, then went north and did the same thing in the area where the northern kingdom had been. He burned the old altar where people had sacrificed to the golden calf, and pulled the bones of the false prophets out of their graves and burned them on top of the ashes. This curse came true because it was from God, and all of God’s words always come true.

In the beginning, when our first parents sinned, they fell under the curse of sin and death, just as God had said they would. But God promised them that he would break that curse. The devil, who had taken the form of a snake to tempt and trick them, was also cursed by God. Someday a man would be born into the human family who would crush the devil’s head and destroy all his works. When that happened, the curse of sin and death would be broken for everyone who believes in God’s promised Savior. Jesus is that promised Savior. He destroyed death and all the forces of evil when he died on the cross and rose again from the dead. Jesus has broken the curse of sin for us, and we are free to be his people, now and forever.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for breaking the curse of sin and death for us and giving us eternal life. Amen.

Source:

https://www.thoughtco.com/tecumsehs-curse-and-the-us-presidents-105440

Judgment and Promise

Bible:

So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asaiah went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe (now she lived in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter), and they talked with her. And she said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: ‘Tell the man who sent you to me, Thus says the Lord, Behold, I will bring disaster upon this place and upon its inhabitants, all the words of the book that the king of Judah has read. Because they have forsaken me and have made offerings to other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the work of their hands, therefore my wrath will be kindled against this place, and it will not be quenched. But to the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the Lord, thus shall you say to him, Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Regarding the words that you have heard, because your heart was penitent, and you humbled yourself before the Lord, when you heard how I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you, declares the Lord. Therefore, behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace, and your eyes shall not see all the disaster that I will bring upon this place.’” And they brought back word to the king. II Kings 22:14-20 ESV

The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation. Numbers 14:18 ESV

Reflection:

In 2005 two teenage boys, Josh Long and Troy Driscoll, went out into the ocean on a sailboat off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina. Suddenly high winds came up and blew their boat out onto the open sea. They drifted for six days without food or water, and gave up on being found and rescued. One time a container ship sailed by and almost swamped their boat, but it didn’t see them. The sun burned and dehydrated them, and sharks circled their boat. Their families began to give up hope that they would be found, and the Coast Guard gave up their search. But then a fishing boat saw them and went to rescue them. It seemed like a miracle that they were found and safely brought home. Their situation had seemed hopeless, but in time there was good news instead.

When the Book of the Law had been found in the temple, Josiah heard the bad news of God’s judgment for the sins of his people, and he believed that there was no hope that God’s judgment could be turned aside after generations of sin and rebellion against the Lord. But he called on God hoping for mercy by sending his men to a prophetess named Huldah. The Lord spoke words of both judgment and promise through Huldah. God would punish his people for their sins by bringing disaster on the southern kingdom of Judah, but he would postpone that disaster during Josiah’s lifetime. God showed his mercy to Josiah and promised him peace and security for his kingdom as long as he lived.

We also have lived in sin and rebellion against God, and we deserve his punishment, but God has had mercy on us. He sent Jesus to die and take the punishment for our sins, and because of what Jesus did our sins are forgiven every day. God sends us his Holy Spirit to help us feel sorry for our sins and to turn to the Lord for forgiveness. We know that God’s final judgment for sin is coming, but we know that for everyone who believes in Jesus, instead of judgment and disaster, there is God’s sure promise of forgiveness and mercy.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for showing us your mercy through Jesus and giving us forgiveness and life with you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

http://www.nydailynews.com/archives/news/days-deadly-ocean-14-ft-boat-teens-survive-sharks-no-water-atlantic-miracle-article-1.625571

Great is the Wrath of the Lord

Bible:

And Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the Lord.” And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it. And Shaphan the secretary came to the king, and reported to the king, “Your servants have emptied out the money that was found in the house and have delivered it into the hand of the workmen who have the oversight of the house of the Lord.” Then Shaphan the secretary told the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read it before the king.

When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes. And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Micaiah, and Shaphan the secretary, and Asaiah the king’s servant, saying, “Go, inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found. For great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.” II Kings 22:8-13 ESV

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. Romans 5:6-11 ESV

Reflection:

Once there was a king and a queen who wanted a child very much, and after a long time finally the queen had a little daughter. The king and queen invited seven fairies to a celebration for the new little princess so that each fairy could give her a magical gift. But there was one fairy they didn’t invite. She was a very old fairy who lived in a tower, and no one had seen her for fifty years. Everyone thought she was probably dead, or perhaps under some kind of spell, so the king and queen didn’t think to invite her. But this old fairy was still alive, and she was very angry that she hadn’t been included. She came to the celebration and put a curse on the little princess to punish the king and queen for not inviting her.

King Josiah had a problem a little like this. He wanted to worship and serve the true God, but the Lord had been forgotten in his kingdom for a long time. No one remembered God’s law, and in fact the Book of the Law had been lost in the broken-down temple for many years. When the high priest found it, he sent word to King Josiah right away, and the king’s secretary read the book to Josiah. When the king heard the words of God’s law, he realized how far his people and their fathers and grandfathers had wandered from God and from his ways. He knew that the Lord must be very angry with them for their disobedience, and he was very afraid of God’s wrath and his curse. He sent his men to find a prophet of God to see what God’s would say about this.

We were all under God’s wrath because of our disobedience to God’s law and our rebellion against his ways. We were in danger of God’s punishment because of our sin, but the Lord has had mercy on us. He sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins on the cross and to undo the curse that our sins had put us under. Because of what Jesus did, God isn’t angry with us for our sins. He forgives us every day, and he no longer calls us his enemies. Jesus has brought us back to our Heavenly Father, now and always.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to turn away your anger and to give us forgiveness and life with you. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Repairing the House

Bible:

Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jedidah the daughter of Adaiah of Bozkath. And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and walked in all the way of David his father, and he did not turn aside to the right or to the left.

In the eighteenth year of King Josiah, the king sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, son of Meshullam, the secretary, to the house of the Lord, saying, “Go up to Hilkiah the high priest, that he may count the money that has been brought into the house of the Lord, which the keepers of the threshold have collected from the people. And let it be given into the hand of the workmen who have the oversight of the house of the Lord, and let them give it to the workmen who are at the house of the Lord, repairing the house (that is, to the carpenters, and to the builders, and to the masons), and let them use it for buying timber and quarried stone to repair the house. But no accounting shall be asked from them for the money that is delivered into their hand, for they deal honestly.” II Kings 22:1-7

Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wondrous works!
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
Seek the Lord and his strength;
seek his presence continually!
Remember the wondrous works that he has done,
his miracles, and the judgments he uttered,
O offspring of Abraham, his servant,
children of Jacob, his chosen ones! Psalm 105:1-6 ESV

Reflection:

Many years ago, before there was TV or the internet, people liked to go to see movies and shows for fun. There were some beautiful theaters to go to, especially in big cities. In Brooklyn there was a magnificent place called Kings Theatre. It was built in 1929 to resemble the French Palace of Versailles or the Paris Opera House, and it had high curved ceilings and plush seats and tapestries and marble stairs. At first it hosted live performances, but when the Depression hit, it became a movie palace, with a screen and a projector for showing movies. Kings Theatre stayed open until 1977, showing movies and sometimes live shows as well, but then it closed its doors. The theater couldn’t compete with the TV, which people stayed home to watch more often than they went out to the movies. Over the years leaks caused damage to the beautiful plaster, and thieves broke in and stole glass chandeliers, carpeting, and tapestry. But in 2013 a two-year effort began to restore Kings Theatre to its original glory. Now it’s open again, and people can go there to see concerts and shows once more.

When a very young king named Josiah came to the throne in the southern kingdom of Judah, there had been two bad kings before him who had not worshiped the true God, but instead had led the people away from the Lord into false worship. But Josiah wanted to bring his people back to the true God and to lead them in serving him. One thing Josiah did was to repair the beautiful temple that Solomon had built. It had once been a magnificent place to worship God, but now it had become broken down and badly in need of repair. The temple had been neglected for many years because people gave their time and attention to other gods and goddesses and neglected the Lord and his house.

We all have turned away from God and neglected him and his ways. Our lives were broken and ruined because of our sin and rebellion, and there was no way we could repair our lives by ourselves. So God sent Jesus to be our Savior. Jesus came to die on the cross for us so that our sins could be forgiven, and he brought us back to worship and serve the Lord. He sends us his Holy Spirit to heal and repair our broken lives and to help us follow God and his ways.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us Jesus to save us and to repair our broken lives. In His Name, Amen.

Source:

http://nypost.com/2015/01/17/unveiling-brooklyns-magnificently-restored-kings-theatre/

An Angel Defeats the Assyrians

Bible:

And that night the angel of the Lord went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies. Then Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went home and lived at Nineveh. And as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, Adrammelech and Sharezer, his sons, struck him down with the sword and escaped into the land of Ararat. And Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place. II Kings 19:35-37 ESV

A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
and see the recompense of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
the Most High, who is my refuge—
no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.

For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone. Psalm 91:7-12 ESV

Reflection:

In 1812, Napoleon and his army marched to Russia to attack and conquer that country. Napoleon had conquered much of Europe and his army was strong, but he failed to conquer Russia. There are some reasons for this. One reason is that the citizens of the city of Moscow burned much of their city down, which meant that Napoleon’s army wasn’t able to get any food from the city, and his soldiers became very hungry and began to starve. Another reason is that the Russian winter was very cold, much colder than Napoleon’s French soldiers were used to. But there is still another reason that the Russians were able to defeat Napoleon. Napoleon’s army was plagued by lice, a very small insect, and these lice spread a disease called typhus. Many of the French soldiers died of typhus, and that left the army too weak to conquer the Russians. It was a plague that defeated Napoleon’s army in Russia.

The same kind of thing happened to Sennacherib’s Assyrian army. God sent his angel into the Assyrian camp at night, and one solder after another started to die. When the rest of the army woke up in the morning, they found that their friends and fellow soldiers were dead–185,000 of them! This left the army so weak and afraid that they turned around and left for their home in Assyria. This didn’t end King Sennacherib’s trouble. He was in a temple praying to his god, and two of his sons came into the temple and killed him. That was the end of Sennacherib. God’s promises to his people in Jerusalem all came true in an amazing way.

God promises to send us his angels, not to hurt us, but to protect us. God’s angels serve the Lord and help his people. That doesn’t mean that nothing bad will ever happen to us, but it does mean that God is with us to help us all the time. God claimed us as his own people when he sent Jesus to die on the cross for us. Jesus paid the penalty for all our sins, and because of Jesus we are forgiven. We can be sure that God’s holy angels protect us from the most terrible enemies of all, sin and the devil. The Lord’s angels give us strength and courage and keep us close to God, every day and always.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your holy angels to help us and keep us close to you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/pandemics/2012/12/napoleon_march_to_russia_in_1812_typhus_spread_by_lice_was_more_powerful.html

God’s Protection

Bible:

“Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not come into this city or shoot an arrow there, or come before it with a shield or cast up a siege mound against it. By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come into this city, declares the Lord. For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.” II Kings 19:32-34 ESV

I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them. Psalm 34:4-7 ESV

Reflection:

Ruby Bridges was a little girl who lived in New Orleans. When she was young, white and black children in the southern United States didn’t go to the same schools, and the schools for black children weren’t as good as the schools for white children. But the United States had a law which said that black children should be allowed to go to schools for white children, and Ruby was sent to the white school near where she lived. Many people were very angry about this, and it was very dangerous for Ruby to go to the white school. But the United States government sent four marshals to escort Ruby to school and to keep her safe. Two of them walked in front of Ruby, and two of them walked behind her as she walked into the school. These men kept Ruby safe, and all the people who stood outside the school and shouted insults at her and threatened to hurt her weren’t able to do anything bad to her.

God spoke to the prophet Isaiah and promised protection to his people in Jerusalem. The king of Assyria had sent messengers to insult and threaten God’s people, but God said that the Assyrians wouldn’t hurt them. God promised to defend his people from the Assyrians and keep them from attacking the city. He promised that they wouldn’t be able to come into the city or shoot an arrow or build siege mounds against Jerusalem.  God would surround Jerusalem with his protection and make the Assyrian army go away and leave them alone.

We are also threatened by our enemies, sin and death, and we are too weak to fight them on our own. But God surrounds us with his love every day and protects us. He sent Jesus to defeat death and the devil by dying on the cross and rising again. Because of Jesus, we are protected from anything that might hurt us or take us away from our Heavenly Father. He is always with us and helps us to stay close to him, now and always.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for protecting us and keeping us close to you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

http://www.biography.com/people/ruby-bridges-475426

An Angry Bull

Bible:

“But I know your sitting down
and your going out and coming in,
and your raging against me.
Because you have raged against me
and your complacency has come into my ears,
I will put my hook in your nose
and my bit in your mouth,
and I will turn you back on the way
by which you came.” II King 19:27-28 ESV

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. Colossians 2:13-15 ESV

Reflection:

Have you ever seen a bull with a ring in his nose? Farmers and ranchers often have a veterinarian come and pierce a young bull’s nose when he is still young, about eight months old. The veterinarian will probably use a medicine to make the bull’s nose numb so the procedure doesn’t hurt. Then the veterinarian punches a hole in the nose, puts a very fat ring in it, and locks the ring shut. A bull’s nose is very sensitive, and the farmer can attach a lead or a halter to the ring, and then be completely in control of the huge, powerful animal. If the bull doesn’t want to go where the farmer or rancher wants him to or if he starts to act as if he might try to attack, all the farmer has to do is give the ring a pull, and the bull is reminded of who is in charge.

Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, didn’t realize that the true God was in control of his life. He thought he could do anything he wanted to do, and that he was so powerful nobody could stop him. He mocked and raged against the Lord and threatened to defeat God’s people and take them from their homeland. So God talked to him as if he were a bull. He said that he would put a hook in his nose and lead him away. He would take the Assyrians back to where they came from and where Sennacherib would never bother God’s people again.

We were once under the control of death and evil, and the devil thought he could do anything he wanted to us. But Jesus came to destroy the work of sin and death, and he defeated all the forces of evil by dying on the cross and rising again from the dead. Because of Jesus’ triumph, we don’t have to worry about sin or evil or death. They can’t hurt us because Jesus won the victory over them. We might sometimes feel afraid of our enemies, but we can remember that they are under Jesus’ control, just as a bull with a ring in his nose is completely under the control of the farmer.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for defeating out biggest enemies. Help us to always trust you and stay close to you. Amen.

Source:

http://www.wisegeek.org/why-do-some-bulls-have-nose-rings.htm

It Was God’s Plan

Bible:

“By your messengers you have mocked the Lord,
and you have said, ‘With my many chariots
I have gone up the heights of the mountains,
to the far recesses of Lebanon;
I felled its tallest cedars,
its choicest cypresses;
I entered its farthest lodging place,
its most fruitful forest.
I dug wells
and drank foreign waters,
and I dried up with the sole of my foot
all the streams of Egypt.’

“Have you not heard
that I determined it long ago?
I planned from days of old
what now I bring to pass,
that you should turn fortified cities
into heaps of ruins,
while their inhabitants, shorn of strength,
are dismayed and confounded,
and have become like plants of the field
and like tender grass,
like grass on the housetops,
blighted before it is grown.” II Kings 19:23-26 ESV

For not in my bow do I trust,
nor can my sword save me.
But you have saved us from our foes
and have put to shame those who hate us.
In God we have boasted continually,
and we will give thanks to your name forever. Psalm 44:6-8 ESV

Reflection:

Jack was graduating from a very important university, and he was the first in his class, so he got to give the class speech. One of the things Jack did in his speech was to thank the people who had helped him get to this point in his life. He thanked the teachers he had had growing up, and his professors in the university. He thanked some special friends, and finally he thanked his mom and dad. He knew that they had planned long before that he should go to good schools and have all the help he needed to do well, and they had paid for his university education. Jack recognized that he hadn’t made his accomplishments alone. His parents and many other people had been behind him, helping him and giving him his chances.

Sennacherib wasn’t as wise as Jack was. He thought that all the things that the Assyrian empire had accomplished were the result of his own power and strength, and of the rulers that had come before him. God spoke through the prophet Isaiah to set things straight. When the Assyrian empire had conquered one nation after another, they were only doing what God had planned for them to do all along. It was God who had given him the power to climb the highest mountains of Lebanon and to cut down the cedars, and to dry up the streams of Egypt. It was only with the help of the Lord that he was able to conquer fortified cities all over the known world.

We sometimes make the mistake of thinking that we can do things on our own, and that it’s all our own cleverness or intelligence or strength that gives us our accomplishments. But this is never true. There are always other people who help us do any good thing we are able to do, and more importantly, it’s God who gives us our abilities and good health and the times and places we can use them. God deserves our thanks for any good things that comes to us in life, no matter how hard we’ve worked to make them happen. This is most true about the love and forgiveness God gives us every day. We could never do anything to earn or deserve it, but God forgives our sins of pride and all our other sins for Jesus’ sake. Jesus did everything to earn our place with God by dying on the cross and rising again for us. We thank God for his amazing love!

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for everything we have, and everything we are. Help us to always be grateful for your gifts, and especially for our Savior, Jesus. In His Name, Amen

A Champion for Jerusalem

Bible:

Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Your prayer to me about Sennacherib king of Assyria I have heard. This is the word that the Lord has spoken concerning him:

“She despises you, she scorns you—
the virgin daughter of Zion;
she wags her head behind you—
the daughter of Jerusalem.

“Whom have you mocked and reviled?
Against whom have you raised your voice
and lifted your eyes to the heights?
Against the Holy One of Israel!” II Kings 19:20-22 ESV

I love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
and I am saved from my enemies. Psalm 18:1-3 ESV

Reflection:

Once long ago there was a town built by a small lake, and in this lake was a terrible dragon. The people of the town were constantly afraid that the dragon would destroy them, but they managed to keep it from hurting them by feeding it their sheep and goats and other animals every day. After awhile, though, all the animals were gone, and they had to feed the dragon their children instead. Finally there was no one left to feed the dragon except the king’s daughter. The king was terribly sad to lose his daughter in this way, but he had no choice. His daughter was brought to the edge of the lake to feed the dragon, but just then a knight named George rode by. George wouldn’t let the princess be eaten by the dragon, so he took his sword and killed it. The princess was saved because of George, and the town didn’t have to worry about the dragon anymore.

This is only a story, but it’s a little like what was happening to Jerusalem. Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, was attacking and defeating all the cities of Judah until only Jerusalem was left. Hezekiah was afraid that his capital city would also fall to Assyria, and his only hope was for Sennacherib to be defeated by someone who was more powerful than the Assyrian empire. Assyria was more powerful than any other nation at this time, but there was one who could defeat it, and that was the Lord. The Lord spoke through the prophet Isaiah and compared Jerusalem to a young woman who could look down on Sennacherib and think about him with scorn. When Sennacherib threatened Jerusalem and made fun of the God its people trusted, he was making fun of the true God of the whole universe. God would protect his people and win over Assyria, and Judah wouldn’t have to worry about Sennacherib and his empire any more.

We were under the power of very strong enemies–sin and death and the devil–and we had no power to free ourselves. Our only hope was for someone who is stronger than death and all the forces of evil to come and save us. Jesus is the champion who beat all our enemies by dying on the cross and rising again from the dead. We don’t have to worry or be afraid of any of the powers of evil hurting us, because Jesus has conquered them, and he is with us every day to protect us. We belong to Jesus, and he is our champion now and forever.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for defeating sin and death for us. Please stay with us and help us every day and forever. Amen.