July 12

2 Kings 19:1-2 (NIV) 1When King Hezekiah heard this, he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and went into the temple of the LORD. 2He sent Eliakim the palace administrator, Shebna the secretary and the leading priests, all wearing sackcloth, to the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz.

The Assyrian captain came to Jerusalem and shouted to all the people his line of propaganda. Basically, he said that the gods of other nations had not been able to deliver them and neither would Jehovah deliver Jerusalem.

When the officials brought the news to Hezekiah, he tore his clothes (a sign of anguish). He put on sackcloth (the rough garment was a sign of self- humiliation). Then he went to the temple of the LORD. In our last devotional we read that Hezekiah was a man who trusted in the LORD. When trouble comes you will turn to the place you really trust, regardless of what you profess.

Though Hezekiah was a righteous king, the LORD had allowed the defeat of many of the fortified cities of Judah. Just because you follow God with all your heart does not mean there will not be defeats and hardship. But we know where to turn. He went to the temple to seek God.

He also sent his whole staff in sackcloth to the prophet Isaiah. The prophet of the Old Testament was the spokesman for God. Hezekiah knew he needed to hear from God. The outcome of his godly response was an angel of God slaying 185,000 of the enemy and sending the remainder back to Assyria where their general was murdered. Archeologists have found evidence that verifies that Jerusalem was the one city that Assyria did not conquer at that time. God is faithful to those who place their trust in Him.

Meditation: Trouble may come our way. We may suffer defeats. But if we humble ourselves and place our hope in God, we will ultimately prevail in spite of the odds.

July 12

John 20:21-23 (NIV) 21Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." 22And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."

When Jesus appeared to His disciples, He said, "Peace be with you!" They probably needed to hear those words, since the man who said this to them had been murdered a few days earlier. Then, in our passage today, He said it a second time. The resurrection is cause for us to have peace, peace with God, peace within our hearts and minds.

The next words from His lips would seem to cause anything but peace, "As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." How can you have peace when you know you are going out into a world that will hate your message? Read on.

"Receive the Holy Spirit." The Greek word for 'spirit', 'breath', and 'wind' is pneuma. Remember, the Spirit is not yet in them, but is with them (John 14:17). If they are recipients of His work then they will be at peace in a world of tribulation. In a short time, He will be living in and through them. That is where real peace is found for peace is a fruit of the Spirit.

As they went out into the world, Jesus had given them an extraordinary right. He had granted them the same authority with which He forgave sins. This was one thing over which the Pharisees were so upset (Mark 2:8-11; Matthew 9:6-8). How can God give such authority to men? Those men are men who have received the Spirit of God and walk as Jesus walked. They have the discernment of the Spirit to know who is genuinely repentant and who is not. If you are a person that has received the Spirit, are you letting Him do this work through you? As His instruments in the world, we need to be aware of this authority and exercise it with His instruction.

Remember: As the Father sent Jesus into the world, Jesus now sends you.