July 16

2 Kings 25:19-21 (NIV) 19Of those still in the city, he took the officer in charge of the fighting men and five royal advisers. He also took the secretary who was chief officer in charge of conscripting the people of the land and sixty of his men who were found in the city. 20Nebuzaradan the commander took them all and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah. 21There at Riblah, in the land of Hamath, the king had them executed. So Judah went into captivity, away from her land.

After Josiah there was never again a godly king. The Pharaoh of Egypt put Josiah's son in chains after his three-month reign. Each successive king paid tribute to Egypt, and the last king paid tribute to Babylon. The final king was Zedekiah. He rebelled against Babylon but was captured. His sons were murdered before his eyes. Then his eyes were put out.

The buildings of Jerusalem were burned and pulled down. The temple was completely looted before it, too, was torn down. That was the sad end of Israel. 2 Kings 24:3,4 tells us that God was unwilling to forgive the land because of the idolatry and murders committed by King Manasseh. His legacy had so infected the nation that even the reforms of Josiah could not purge it.

Our passage today tells of the final destruction of what was left in Jerusalem. We are all like the nation of Israel. There is a call on our lives to live as an example of our God. Our life is to be a witness to the world. We are enticed along the way to do evil, to turn to other things besides the LORD for our pleasure. At times, we are like David, Hezekiah, and Josiah, the good kings. At other times we are enticed to go the way of Manasseh. Like Israel, we have choices that affect our destiny. Will we be as stubborn as they were and go our own way, so that, in the end, the justice of God must remove us? Or will we be what God has called us to be, examples of His truth, so that His blessings can overflow from our lives to the world? We are each a little king. Many lives are affected by our commitment or lack thereof. Serve the LORD with your whole heart!

Consider: What kind of a record would be left of my life if I died today?

July 16

Acts 2:37-39 (NIV) 37When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" 38Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

39The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off–for all whom the Lord our God will call."

120 of the followers of Jesus had gathered to wait and pray for the power Jesus had promised. The Spirit was poured out, and they were all filled with Him. They supernaturally spoke the languages of the people that were gathered for the Jewish Feast of Pentecost. Peter preached the first sermon of the newly born church of Jesus Christ. Thousands of people were convicted of their sin of having Jesus executed. They didn't drive the nails or make the final decision, but their sin was the reason he went to the cross. Those present did not speak up to stop it. Some even yelled, "Crucify Him!" Convicted, they asked the disciples what they should do?

Preaching today should be no different than that first sermon. It should be given in the power of the Spirit. It should convict of sin. It should cause the hearers to ask what God wants them to do. The disciples told the people to repent and be baptized. In other words, have a complete change of mind and attitude, and give yourself to a new master, Jesus the Messiah.

Baptism was not only a declaration that you were beginning a new direction in life, but it also declared you were submitting yourself to a new master. The crowd was promised that if they did this, they too would receive the Holy Spirit.

In the power of the Holy Spirit, Peter preached a message that he did not fully understand. He declared that the promise was for all who are far off, for all whom the Lord our God will call. He interpreted it as meaning for the scattered Jews. God would have to speak to him, which is recorded later in this book of Acts, to help him understand more fully what he had preached.

Servant of God, the power to change lives is the presence and empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Peter's message bore fruit, not because of Peter's wisdom or oratory skill, but because the Spirit was in Him and was given the freedom to work through Him.

Consider: Whatever your ministry, if it is going to bear fruit, the same must be true for you.