July 11

2 Kings 18:3-5 (NIV) 3He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father David had done. 4He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it. (It was called Nehushtan.) 5Hezekiah trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him.

Hezekiah was an exceptional king. As you read through the kings of Judah, you find a few of whom it was written, "He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD..." That is almost always followed by the word, "however". There was always some compromise. The standard was King David. He had a heart after God. In our passage today, we find a rare exception in Hezekiah. He destroyed everything that had an influence that suggested the worship of any other God than Jehovah. The bronze snake that Moses had made in the wilderness was even destroyed.

We can take objects that were meant for our good and turn them into idols. Most of the blessings of God in our life can become a snare to us. There are times when their influence must put out of our lives. It is not that the object itself is bad, it is the way in which we are tempted to worship the object. It is the way in which it distracts us from the LORD. Hezekiah was so uncompromising that none of these distracting things were allowed to remain.

What an epitaph! There was no one like him among the kings of Judah. God is looking for those who are willing to go all out, to be unique, to blaze a trail of total dedication. Jesus is our ultimate example in that.

Meditation: May we allow Jesus' life in us to show total dedication in our daily lives.

July 11

John 20:15-17 (NIV) 15"Woman," he said, "why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?" Thinking he was the gardener, she said, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him." 16Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher). 17Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"

The one who is forgiven much loves much. She was the first to the grave that Sunday morning of resurrection. She wanted to adorn the body with spices so that she could visit it even as it decomposed. She feared the body was stolen. She may have thought, "First they kill Him, then they steal His body!" Jesus came to her as she wept. I think He often does the same with us. We are usually brokenhearted because we do not see the whole picture. We can't understand what the Master is really doing. We ask "Why?" Why has this loss in our life occurred? Why did God allow such a tragedy in our life? We feel lost and separated from Him, but as we weep He stands beside us and asks us why.

What made Mary aware that it was her Savior? He called her name. He knows your name and calls to you personally. When He speaks our name, we hear the love with which He says it.

Mary wanted to cling to His physical presence. This passage is a mystery to many. The word "hold" can also be translated "cling to". Jesus would be leaving again, ascending to the right hand of the throne of God. He didn't want to break Mary's heart again with His departure. She was already working through the pain of separation, and He didn't want to take her back to the beginning. She had to let go of His physical presence so that she could receive the Spirit at Pentecost. To help her get the idea of what was to come, He sent her on a mission. That was what she would be doing once the Spirit came, serving her Savior.

Remember: In the midst of the loss that life inevitably brings, remember, He stands beside you, calls your name, and asks, "Why are you crying?" He still has service for you.