August 7

2 Chronicles 16:7-9 (NIV) 7At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him: "Because you relied on the king of Aram and not on the LORD your God, the army of the king of Aram has escaped from your hand. 8Were not the Cushites and Libyans a mighty army with great numbers of chariots and horsemen? Yet when you relied on the LORD, he delivered them into your hand. 9For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war."

Asa was one of the good kings of Judah. He restored the Temple and encouraged the nation to return to the worship of Jehovah. While he was earnestly working on the Temple, God gave him peace for ten years. When an enemy finally did come to attack, he relied upon God and completely defeated them. He had set his heart to seek the LORD.

After Asa had reigned 35 years, the king of Israel, Baasha, began to fortify cities along the border. This was indication that he was preparing for war. Instead of seeking God as he had done earlier, he took the treasures from the Temple and bribed the king of Aram to break his treaty with Israel. The tactic was successful in that Baasha gave up his plan to attack Judah. It was not a success in the eyes of God who sent Hanani the seer with these words of instruction. Had Asa forgotten how God helped him when he was small and unsure of himself? God is always searching the earth to find hearts fully committed to Him. Those are the hearts He strengthens.

Sometimes we attain immediate success, but because we did not do things God's way we end up with long-term problems. Asa later came down with a disease in his feet. He would not seek God for that either, but only sought help from the doctors. That resulted in his death. Asa's legacy was a good one, but it would have been even better if he had stayed dependent on God.

As God blesses your life, recognize that strength is from Him. Stay fully dependent on Him.

August 7

Romans 3:22-24 (NIV) 22This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

There is only one way to be made right with God. It is not in being perfect or doing good. His standard is His own perfection. His glorious attributes of goodness, patience, love, peace, and holiness are the standard. Anything short of that is not righteous. The Law of God only taught man that they could not measure up to His standard by keeping it, for no one can keep it perfectly.

But there is a righteousness that comes from God through faith in Jesus Christ. He lived a life that was up to that standard. If you hide yourself in Him, He will be your righteousness. He paid the sin debt you owed, and in place of it credits you with His righteousness. There has never been a more unbalanced exchange. There will never be a more redeeming exchange.

Why would He do such a thing? Included in that glory that we "fall short of" is a most lovely characteristic, grace. He chose to set His love on us. He sees what He can make of us and gives us what we could never deserve from our own effort. We could never attain to the glory of God, so He made a way for us. What does He see that would cause Him to pay such a price as the cross? He sees His love transforming you into the likeness of His Son. He sees the day when you are living in the glory of God. This is true of every one who comes to God, Jew or Gentile, before or after Jesus' death. It was true of Abraham when he believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness. It was true of the prostitute who washed Jesus' feet with her hair, and it is true of you and me today.

Meditation: There has never been a more beautiful word to the human ear than 'grace'.