A few weeks ago, my pastor asked the congregation to pray over the people in our lives and what the Lord is asking us to share with them. I immediately became nervous. I enjoy sharing the Gospel with others, but when it comes to reaching out to people beyond my church community I start to get uncomfortable. Why is it so easy for me to display the Gospel in my actions but so difficult to speak openly about God’s grace?
It’s a pride issue. If I share a Bible verse with a friend it might not be well received; and who knows what would happen then? When I read today’s reading from John, I found it to be such a blessing; this verse was exactly what I needed:
“He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the ONE who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.” -John 7:18 (NASB)
I was humbled. When you share God’s Word with someone how they react is not about you. Don’t let the fear of a negative response stop you from sharing the Gospel.
What is your favorite verse when you are fearful of sharing the Gospel?
King Josiah was truly an extraordinary man and leader. Like King David, Josiah walked in all the way of the Lord, not turning to the left or to the right (22:2).
In the eighteenth year of his reign, Josiah commanded the priests to do an accounting of the temple’s finances and to start repairs on the Lord’s house. During all this construction, one of the scribes found the Book of the Law, which was brought and read to the king. When Josiah heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes because he saw just how far away from God’s instructions the people had wandered. That anguish and repentance meant everything to the Lord.
“Because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they would become desolation and a curse, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you,” says the Lord. “Surely, therefore, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to you grave in peace; and your eyes shall not see all the calamity which I will bring on this place.” -2 Kings 22:20
When God admonishes us that we’ve lost our way, our reaction determines our fate. For most of us, our first reaction is to get defensive. Like, who me? But, God, compared to that person, I’m doing so well! Those rules are so old-fashioned – no one has followed them for years!
But Josiah’s heart was tender. I’ve written before about having a heart of flesh – a heart that feels. That kind of heart, when it receives instructions from the Lord – including a reprimand – it humbles itself, repents and seeks God’s mercy. A heart like that is a rare thing indeed. But in the eyes of the Lord, it is everything.
As you read the Book of Law left to us – the Bible – what is your reaction? Is your heart tender? Are you humbled into repentance and obedience? Or is it merely a history book filled with outdated and burdensome expectations?
“What confidence is this in which you trust? You speak of having plans and power for war; but they are mere words. And in whom do you trust?” -2 Kings 18:20
In this passage, the king of Assyria is taunting Hezekiah, the king of Judah, about his faith in the Lord. But as I read this chapter, the question echoed in my mind too:
What confidence in this in which you trust?
I wanted to say God. But the more I read, the more I doubted whether my words would stand up to scrutiny. Like the people of Judah: their words were that they trusted in God, yet their actions didn’t match up as they visited their high places and worshipped their own idols (verse 22).
So, I began to search my own heart. When people look at my life, who do they see my confidence is in? Does that match up with my words? When I say God helps me in my studies, yet stress out about the fact that I can’t figure out a certain subject or conquer a certain obstacle? When I say God will send me a Godly husband, and then attempt to use my feminine wiles to get a guy’s attention on my own? As shameful as it is to admit this, sometimes my actions do not back up my words that my trust and confidence are rooted in Christ.
That’s why my constant prayer – and life’s anthem – echoes the words of King Hezekiah in 19:9:
“Now therefore, O Lord my God, I pray [do this through me], that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the Lord God, You alone.”
Because when He acts in my life, it’s obvious. And the glory goes to Him. Then, not even words are necessary, because it is clear to all that my God is truly my rock, my confidence, my trust, my everything.
So, what confidence is this in which YOU trust?
PS. // If you’re struggling with the answer to this question, check out this article by one of our writers on four places where confidences comes from.
John 6 begins with one of the most well-known Bible stories about Jesus – the feeding of the five thousand. This is a portrayal of the Father’s overflowing provision and power. But there is another part of this chapter that caught my attention. The story that follows the feeding of the five thousand is another well-known story of Jesus walking on water. But John ends this scene in a way that is not mentioned in the other gospels. After the disciples discover it is Jesus walking on the water and not a ghost, “they were glad to take him into the boat and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.” (v. 21 ESV)
Immediately. Once their panic and fear were replaced with the gladness and relief of seeing Jesus, they immediately got to the place they were headed for. And isn’t that like so many of us today? To be scared or worried over our circumstances before we realize who Jesus is? Many of us are just like the disciples – frightened and confused. But we can also be like the disciples in another way. The moment we invite Jesus into our boat, we too can be glad! Just the simple act of letting Jesus step in will immediately take us to where we are going.
But the act of putting our trust in man or ourselves can lead us far away from where we’re meant to be. 2 Kings 15-17 is a continuation of the kings who led Israel into exile. Instead of leading Israel in the ways of the Lord, they led His nation under their own rule (or in the rule of their fathers before them) and into exile.
So I challenge you, dear friends – let go of that problem or situation and trust Jesus enough to invite him in. He will take you exactly where you need to go!
What is one fear or worry you will let Jesus take care of for you today?
What can inviting Jesus into your boat do for you?
Ever had a day where things went terribly awry? Jehoahaz, king of Israel, had one of those days. His army was decimated and his resources left in terrible disarray. Jehoahaz failed to follow God’s commands to destroy the high places of idol worship; so, he had to face the consequences. But, grace. God wasn’t finished with Israel just because of the mistakes of their king.
“Hazael, Aram’s king, persecuted and abused the Israelites all during Jehoahaz’s reign. But the Eternal One was gracious and compassionate toward them. He was good and turned his face to them because of the covenant He had made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Eternal, true to His promise, had protected them and remained near them until now.” -2 Kings 13:22-23
God’s faithfulness toward the Israelites carried all the way until the time of Jesus, through good kings and bad kings, times of war and times of peace—God was faithful.
Through all the death (and 2 Kings certainly has a lot of death), God’s ultimate goal was LIFE. Jesus was the manifestation of that goal’s completeness and the way to eternal life. The end of John 5 dictates Jesus’s mission and the testimonies of His full authority:
“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.” -John 5:24-25
Even on our difficult days, we have the promise that Jesus has overcome death and came to this earth to bring us life.
In what ways can you remind yourself of God’s grace and life on rough days?
Which of God’s promises bring you the most hope? Write those down and stick them in a place that is easy to see!
As I read through 2 Kings and John, I am struck by one theme: counter-culture. As citizens of Heaven (Philippians 3:20), we are called to live a life that is set apart. What does this look like? A few words come to mind from the examples in these verses: obedient, submissive, bold, merciful, selfless, and caring.
Jehu’s actions were marked by strict obedience and submission to God’s will. He wasn’t perfect (we see that toward the end of chapter 10) but he did this right. When God told him to act on the prophecy, Jehu did. There was a great amount of risk involved, but he obeyed without hesitation. Jehu acted out of great boldness in destroying all of the worshippers of Baal and the temples of Baal. The culture said to worship Baal; Jehu followed the Eternal One. Jehu’s actions were counter-cultural. He submitted to God’s will, trusted that God would be faithful to His promises, and acted in radical boldness.
We see another side to counter-cultural action in John 5. Jesus acts in radical faith, yet He also acts with great mercy and selflessness. Jesus purposefully stepped into a place where He would encounter those who had been marginalized by society—the sick, hurt, and disabled. First, he stepped into the fringes of society, and then second, Jesus went against the Jewish leaders’ teaching of the time by performing a miracle on the Sabbath. He recognized that it is far more important to love and to serve than to follow a set of rules.
A lot of times I think it is easier in our culture, even our Christian culture, to stay safe and follow the rules. We try not to offend anyone. We talk about job security and financial stability. We follow the “rules” that dictate how we should spend our time and what Christian events we should go to. We are willing to work inside the church, but would rather not put ourselves in a vulnerable position outside of it. I’m not saying any of those things are wrong, yet I am advocating for digging deeper into our faith. If Jesus commands us to be counter-cultural, that means following Him—even when it is risky, vulnerable or uncomfortable.
Can you think of a time that you heard Jesus’s voice telling you to do something, and you walked away because of fear/discomfort?
In the future, what can you do to step into radical faith and counter cultural expectations?
You recall that this man of God had told the king, “By this time tomorrow, 7 quarts of premium flour will sell for 11 grams, and 13 quarts of barley will sell for the same at the market in the gate of Samaria.” The officer had then asked, “Even if the Eternal carved out windows in heaven, is it really possible?” Elisha had replied, “You will witness this event, but you will not be allowed to enjoy the feast.” This was the truth about the officer’s destiny, for he was killed at the city entrance—trampled by the starving, miserable citizens of Samaria. -2 Kings 6:18-20, The Voice
While he was still going down, his slaves met him saying that his boy was alive. He asked them at what time he got better. “Yesterday at seven in the morning the fever left him,” they answered. The father realized this was the very hour at which Jesus had told him, “Your son will live.” Then he himself believed, along with his whole household. -John 4:51-53, HSC
When our life seems to be spinning out of control and the world around is in chaos, it is hard to remember that God is still sovereign. Yet, the two passages above illustrate just how sovereign God is. His words are precise. The price of flour and barley was sold for the exact amount God predicted through Elisha. God’s words also hold power. In the very moment that Jesus spoke healing over the officer’s son, the boy was healed. Precision and power are the results behind God’s sovereignty.
I love the word sovereign because it is such a royal word. I have the mental image of a king whose every word is strictly obeyed with exactness. That is our God, except that our God will never be overthrown, His reign will never end, and He makes perfect decisions.
I often have to remind myself that God’s timing is right. Even this morning, I had to speak words of God’s sovereignty over a certain situation I am worrying about. His timing might not be what I want or expect, but His timing is perfect. The story that God is writing for each one of us is far more beautiful than the stories we could write for ourselves. Let your heart rest in the assurance that God is in control. It may not seem like it right now, or even years from now, but God is weaving our individual stories into His perfect story. You can trust Him.
How have you seen God’s sovereignty played out in your life or in the lives of your friends?
In what ways have you been impatient with God, and how can you surrender your plans to His timing?