July 24

1 Chronicles 19:13 (NIV) 13Be strong and let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. The LORD will do what is good in his sight."

After David was established as king, he heard about the death of the king of the Ammonites. He sent a group of Israelites to express sympathy. The new king's advisors suggested that this display of sympathy was really to spy out the land. They cut off the beard and robes of the ambassadors, a sign of great humiliation in that day, and sent them back. When the Ammonites realized this might cause retaliation they hired the Arameans as mercenaries.

David's general, Joab, led the troops against them but the two enemy armies were able to set up armies in front and behind Joab. Joab divided his army and put one group to fight in front and the other behind. Whichever group was successful was to turn and help the others. That is when the verse we have today was uttered. The odds did not look good. Joab reminded them they were fighting for the people and the cities of their God. That made it personal for each soldier. It wasn't just about their own life; it was for their family, too.

We realize our battle affects many more than just us personally. How many fallen had forgotten how their entire family and those of their city are affected by their battle? We do the best we can in the situation God has placed us. We rely on His strength. Then we trust that God will do what is good in His sight. God did help them, and both enemy armies retreated. The LORD did what was good in His sight.

Remember: Your spiritual battle is for your family and your city. Encourage yourself with the fact that if you do your part, the LORD will certainly do His.

July 24

Acts 9:4-6 (NIV) 4He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" 5"Who are you, Lord?" Saul asked. "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," he replied. 6"Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."

This man, Saul, was one of the up and coming leaders of the Jewish people. He could see that this new belief in Jesus as Messiah was drawing many people away from the religion he so cherished. Determined to stop this threat, he obtained letters from the religious leaders authorizing him to hunt down Christians and throw them in jail. Since most of them had left Jerusalem, he decided to follow them to Damascus.

On the road to Damascus, a bright light blinded him. He fell from his horse to the ground and heard the above passage. "Why do you persecute me?" The Lord knows the answer to His own question. It was for Saul's sake the question was asked. It was one that would take time to truly answer in his heart. Why do we fight for religion, when faith is a relationship with the living God? Perhaps Saul was unsettled by the words he had heard at the stoning of Stephen. Sometimes the more convicted we become, the harder we resist God. In this case, the manifestation of Jesus that he was persecuting was the body of Christ, His believers. Jesus had ascended, but He said that Saul was persecuting Him.

Christian brother and sister, the Lord identifies Himself with you, just as you should identify yourself with Him. Every disciple that is struck in the face is a strike on the face of Christ, filling up His sufferings. Why do the heathen rage?

"Who are You, Lord?" I think Paul knew, but he had to hear the name of Jesus from Jesus' own lips. Now his mind can no longer make excuses to resist the words He had heard. Jesus ordered him to Damascus for instructions. After all, Paul referred to Him as "Lord". Now that Paul had quit resisting, he would begin serving. You have heard. Is your mind still resisting, or are you ready to serve?

Consider: Are you willing to call Him Lord, and receive His instructions?