A vast army

“For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.” 2 Chronicles 20: 12

During this time in Israel’s history, Jehoshaphat rules the kingdom of Judah. Unlike some of the previous kings, he is devoted to the Lord and determined to serve Him. However, just when things seem to be going well, a powerful army seeks to destroy Judah. Faced with this looming crisis, scripture tells us that the king “resolved to inquire of the Lord.” He proclaims a fast for the entire nation, and the people assembled together to “seek help” from God. In their distress they pray, admitting that they are powerless and helpless. The account in Chronicles states that “all the men of Judah, with their wives, children and little ones” look to the only One who can deliver them. In response to their faithfulness, the Lord promises to deliver them, vowing to fight the battle for them.

Many who read this devotional today are also facing a “vast army.” My mom and husband are in a battle against cancer. My dad is paralyzed on his left side by a stroke. We have friends who are waging war on the mission field. All of us have had to face an enemy that seems impossible to defeat. But like Jehoshaphat and the nation of Judah, we need to fix our eyes on the only One with the power to deliver us. Like Judah, we need to get our focus off of the army and onto the Lord. Trust Him to fight for you today.

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Always watching

“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” 2 Chronicles 16: 9

In the movie Monsters, Inc by Pixar, there is a character named Roz. She is an administrator of “Scare Floor F,” and one of her jobs is to keep a close watch on Mike and Sully. With her signature cat’s eye glasses and a scowl, Roz constantly reminds the two monsters that she is “always watching.” Of course, these words are not meant to be comforting or reassuring in this context. Roz is out to make sure that Mike and Sully don’t screw up, and that they take their job of scaring children seriously.

This verse in Chronicles reminds us that God is always watching too, but for a very different reason. His eyes “range throughout the earth” to search for those “fully committed to Him, but His intent is to strengthen our hearts. The Lord recognizes that discouragement, despair, and depression often weigh us down. He realizes that we are weak and susceptible to hopelessness. When our hearts are heavy, He gives us joy. When turmoil rages within us, He quiets our soul. Be of good cheer! God is “always watching,” and He offers strength to all those devoted to Him.

Uphill

“But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.” 2 Chronicles 15: 7

God spoke these words to King Asa during a difficult time in Israel’s history. The kingdom had split into two territories: Israel and Judah. Asa ruled Judah and had determined to rid the land of false idols and to seek the one true God. It was a daunting task. The writer of Chronicles details how Asa removed the “detestable idols” from the land, tore down the “high places,” and repaired the temple. These efforts took years, and I am sure that at times, his task seemed impossible. But the Lord reminded Asa to persevere and to be strong, assuring him that his work would be “rewarded.”

I have friends who are toiling as missionaries, friends who work countless hours teaching students of all ages, pastors who labor to shepherd their flocks, housewives and mothers who tirelessly care for their families, and I know that at times it seems like an uphill battle. For every step forward, there are two steps back. Don’t lose hope. God is right there by your side, whispering words of encouragement. He sees your labor, and it is not in vain. A reward is on the way.

Wr-wr-wr-wrong

“Because Rehoboam humbled himself, the Lord’s anger turned from him, and he was not totally destroyed.” 2 Chronicles 12:12

When I was growing up, the show to watch on Tuesday evening was Happy Days. I loved watching Richie, Potsie, Ralph and the other characters, but my favorite was Fonzie. To the kids growing up in the 70s, he was the epitome of cool. He could jump over a line of cars with his motorcycle. With one tap of his fist, he could start the jukebox. Richie and the rest of the characters sought his advice. But there was one thing Fonzie was not good at, and that was admitting that he was wr-wr-wr-wrong. He even had a hard time getting the word out. His character felt that he was simply too cool to be wrong about anything.

Unfortunately, we all have that problem from time to time. For whatever reason, most of us do not like to admit that we are wrong, about anything. We love to blame others or make excuses when we err, however, this is not pleasing to God. The Lord calls us to be humble. When we exercise humility, it is much easier to admit that we are not perfect. Those who are humble recognize their fault and apologize. It is the prideful person who can admit no wrongdoing. It is pride that puffs us up and makes us believe that we could never be wr-wr-wrong.

Since you are human, you will screw up today. You will say or do something that you shouldn’t. When you do, you have two choices: pride or humility. One is pleasing to God, and one is not.

Show some love

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” I Corinthians 13: 1

Today I will begin my 28th year of teaching. As you can imagine, I am pretty excited! At approximately 8:20 am, a whole new group of students will walk into my class. Each will be unique. Each will have different backgrounds. Each will have their own learning styles. But more important than all of that, each will be crowned with the image of God. And I am called to love them. In fact, without love, I’m just making a lot of noise in the front of the classroom, and we all know that noise can be easy to tune out. But when I show my students love, I am a much more effective teacher. It may seem like an impossible task, but each day I pray that I would see my students the way God sees them. He created them. He knows the number of hairs on their heads. He sent His son to die for them and to save them. This knowledge should impact all that I say and do.

Whatever job or task that you have today, remember that the people you meet are all created in God’s image. He loves each one of them, and so should you.

Comfort

“May your unfailing love be my comfort…” Psalm 195:76

Michael and I have spent quite a bit of time in hospitals over the past fifteen years. When you are waiting on the doctor, you hope that they will have words of hope and encouragement. But I have learned over the years not to find comfort in the diagnosis of a doctor. Doctors are human, and science is limited. Mike and I have heard, on more than one occasion, that his situation is hopeless. We have heard that the odds are bad. We have heard that his disease can’t be cured. But God….

Our comfort comes from Him because His love is unfailing. Our comfort abides in Him because His mercies are new every morning. Our comfort rests in Him because He is our ultimate healer, and His word never fails. In need of some comfort today? Let God’s boundless love for you give you hope and encouragement, for His love never fails.

Evil

“Let those who love the Lord hate evil.” Psalm 97: 10

For years, I have prayed that my own children would love the Lord and hate sin. The fact is, if you take a look around you, the world seems to do the direct opposite. When you watch the news or read the daily headlines, it would seem that the world loves sin. Murder, adultery, deception, greed, and strife are commonplace, and some of these vices are considered perfectly acceptable or even laudable. But those who are called by Christ’s name are to be different. If we truly love the Lord, we will deplore those things that He deplores.

It is true that we are all under the stain of sin, yet when we love and trust God, He begins to transform us. He changes our desires and habits and makes us new creations. We no longer have to be bound by evil; His love sets us free.