July 15

2 Kings 23:3 (NIV) The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the LORD–to follow the LORD and keep his commands, regulations and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book. Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant.

When Josiah heard the words read to him from the Book of the Law, he was responsive and humbled himself. He gathered the elders of Israel and the people of Jerusalem and read to them the words of the covenant. When something from God's word has gripped our hearts, we should share it with others and not keep it to ourselves.

Then Josiah took the first step. He renewed the covenant in the presence of the LORD. He didn't miss the words "with all your heart and soul". He was pledging himself to be the servant of God and to live in complete obedience to every requirement the LORD had given Israel. Once he did, the people followed, pledging themselves too. When someone stands up and does what is right in a world engulfed in compromise, it can have a great affect on all who see them. It touched the heart of the nation and gave them one last great revival.

It was too late to save the nation though. The sins of the kings before Josiah had to be accounted for. There was too much evil sown in the land and in the hearts and minds of the nation. Judgment had to come as God had promised. Was the revival in vain? Sin causes havoc in the present life and judgment in the life to come. All that turned from idolatry were spared from the consequences of the sins they would have committed. Revival is never in vane, even though judgment must still come. It gave people one more chance to turn to God before it arrived.

Consider: It is never too late for you to set an example for others to follow.

July 15

Acts 1:3, 7-8 (NIV) 3After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.

7He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

Jesus didn't leave them questioning whether or not His resurrection truly happened. He gave many convincing proofs. None of the over 500 people who saw Him questioned the fact that He had risen from the dead. We don't have any of the words about the kingdom of God that He spoke to them during that time, but we can be sure it was similar to what He had already taught them before His death. Death would profoundly alter the way we see things, but that is not true for the Son of God. He never changes.

When someone we love passes, we treasure the last words they spoke to us. Verses 7 and 8 were Jesus' famous last words before His ascension. The last question the disciples asked was if it was the time for the restoration of the kingdom to Israel. Jesus did not say that would never happen. He told them that it was not for them to know the times or dates the Father has set. By this statement we can learn much. All our guessing and predicting is a waste of time and contrary to Jesus' instruction. The time is set already. The Sovereign God of all has determined the perfect time.

In the mean time, verse 8 is our call to arms. We must be empowered by the Holy Spirit. Then we are to be witnesses of Christ from our homes to the ends of the earth. The word for 'witness' in Greek is the word from which we derive our word martyr. It was used in the legal, historical, and ethical sense. Those to whom Jesus was speaking were to tell of the historical facts of what He said and did so that we would have a record. Today we can still share those facts with those who have never heard. A witness can tell of Jesus' legal right before God to free us from the slavery of sin, because He paid our debt. Ethically, the apostles and all believers are to demonstrate the transforming power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Consider: Have you received the power to be a witness?