August 6

2 Chronicles 13:5 (NIV) 5Don't you know that the LORD, the God of Israel, has given the kingship of Israel to David and his descendants forever by a covenant of salt?

Abijah inherited the throne of Judah after his father Rehoboam's death. When war came between the northern tribes of Israel and southern Judah, Abijah found his troops were outnumbered two to one. He climbed a hill and shouted out to the army of Israel the above passage. He had this conviction because he knew God had promised the kingdom to David's lineage and sealed the promise with a covenant.

Little explanation is given in Scripture about the salt covenant, but we can piece together from other texts what it must have meant. When two parties sat down and ate salted bread, they entered into a peace agreement. It implied that they were friends and were bound to defend one another. When did David do this with God? It was when he ate the shewbread while fleeing from Saul. God promised to make David king and later promised his descendents would reign. Abijah was reminding Israel that God was on their side because God keeps His word.

He went on to describe how their leader, Jeroboam, had forsaken God and made his own gods. If that weren't enough to cause them to doubt, he described how you could buy the priesthood with a certain number of sacrifices.

While Abijah was declaring his right to rule, Israel was sending troops behind him. Suddenly Israel attacked from both directions, but the house of Judah had placed their trust in God. When they shouted out their battle cry, God turned the troops of Israel. Abijah's troops soundly defeated Israel that day, destroying over half their army. In our day, the idea of having God on your side is laughed at. It still makes the difference.

Remember: You can always count on the promises of God.

August 6

Romans 2:28-29 (NIV) 28A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man's praise is not from men, but from God.

Paul asks the reader if keeping the rituals has any meaning if you are disobedient to God? What if a person doesn't keep the rituals but is obedient to God? Isn't obedience more important than ritual? The Jews had so many rituals and rules that they forgot what they were all about. While looking down on their Gentile neighbors, they were no more obedient to God than those they despised. In fact, some of the Gentiles were more obedient, for they obeyed the law of conscience in their heart.

What makes a man a Jew? Is it merely lineage? Is it the covenant ritual of circumcision? Circumcision was merely a picture of a heart made tender toward God. The one whose heart is made tender by the Holy Spirit is a true child of God. His actions come from the heart, not just intellectual obedience to a set of rules or a formula prayer.

The person with a tender heart toward God does not act for the purpose of men approving his actions as those of a spiritual man. He acts from the heart to please God. Men may despise him, but God is pleased with him. Man may not understand his actions and misinterpret his motives, but God will know. Whether he understands it or not, the cross has made access to God and a new heart possible.

What is the motivating factor for your actions? Do you try to do what is respected so that man will think highly of you, or do you act from a heart that has been made tender toward God?

Prayer: Ask the Spirit to circumcise your heart that you might be sensitive to His leading.