July 13

2 Kings 20:1-3 (NIV) 1In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, "This is what the LORD says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover." 2Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, 3"Remember, O LORD, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes." And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

Hezekiah had been faithful to God throughout his reign. Perhaps it was because of this that the LORD warned him of the time of his death through the prophet Isaiah. When he heard the news he immediately went to prayer, weeping and pleading with God. He based his plea on his life of walking faithfully before God, his wholehearted devotion, and doing what was good in God's eyes.

How many of us could pray that prayer? In a way, all of us who are in Christ can indeed pray that. In Him, we have the righteousness of God. I do believe that a submitted life carries weight before the Throne. James reminded us that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. A righteous man prays God's will.

The Lord heard Hezekiah and sent Isaiah back to give him a cure and a promise of 15 more years. Hezekiah needed assurance that the word was from God. Isaiah prayed and asked God to make the shadow of the sun go backward ten steps. It did!

Recently I have heard of three people who have been given notice that they will soon die. One has accepted it with peace. The others believe they are to pray like Hezekiah and expect a miracle. Is our faith bolstered in either case by our obedient walk as in the case of Hezekiah?

Challenge: Walk faithfully before the LORD in wholehearted devotion doing what is right in His eyes.

July 13

John 20:27-29 (NIV) 27Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." 28Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!" 29Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

Thomas wasn't with the disciples the first time Jesus appeared to them. Even after hearing the others' testimony, he refused to believe. He told them, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it." John 20:25 (NIV) What was wrong with Thomas? I think it was the same thing that was wrong with the disciples before Jesus appeared. He didn't want his heart to hope again, only to find it not true. Jesus understands our fragile hearts. Thomas once encouraged the disciples to go and die with Jesus. Now he needs encouragement to even believe their testimony.

When Jesus appeared, He showed that He knew Thomas' every word. "Go ahead; do it. Touch the wounds. Quit doubting and believe!" Thomas made a confession that none of the others had made to this point. "My Lord and My God." He was saying, "Not only are You my master, but you are my God."

He gives us the evidence we need. What we do with it then is up to our will. Thomas took it all the way to India and died a martyr. To this day, the most common male name in Southern India is Thomas.

Jesus told him that those who believe without seeing are blessed. God is pleased with faith. Faith is believing the unseen. You and I have never seen Jesus with our eyes, and yet He has shown many of us in ways that require less faith than others. If you are struggling to find faith, believe the testimony of so many others without seeing. That faith will bring a blessing with it. But if you cannot find the faith to believe, tell Him about it. If you are honest and sincere, He will meet you in a way that will help you come to faith. He will give you a heart that dares to hope.

Consider: God will give you whatever it will take for you to believe. What will you do with it when He does?