August 13

2 Chronicles 20:35-37 (NIV) 35Later, Jehoshaphat king of Judah made an alliance with Ahaziah king of Israel, who was guilty of wickedness. 36He agreed with him to construct a fleet of trading ships. After these were built at Ezion Geber, 37Eliezer son of Dodavahu of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, "Because you have made an alliance with Ahaziah, the LORD will destroy what you have made." The ships were wrecked and were not able to set sail to trade.

Jehoshaphat went down in history as a godly king. Like most of the kings, he did not remove the high places; a remnant of idol worship was allowed to remain. Those places seemed to be the enemy's stronghold in Judah that no one had the boldness to conquer. Though Jehoshaphat made his share of mistakes, overall, his heart was after God and he was said to have walked in the ways of Asa his father.

At the end of his life he had a chance to practice a lesson that he had learned early on as a king. Do you remember when he made the alliance with Ahab? A prophet warned him of God's judgment for loving the one that hated God. (September 21) Ahab was the wickedest king of Israel.

In our passage today, Jehoshaphat again made an alliance with a wicked king of Israel. It is not a war, just a business venture. They teamed up to build some ships. Solomon had imported great amounts of wealth, and perhaps these kings thought that they could do the same. The LORD destroyed those ships before they could set sail.

Jehoshaphat may have justified the situation in his mind saying, "It is only business." When we learn a lesson, the LORD often allows us to face the temptation again to see if we have really learned it. Is our heart really given to God and not flesh in those situations? Jehoshaphat failed the test a second time and had this blot on his testimony.

Warning: Watch those areas of weakness where you think you have learned a lesson. They may come again to see if your heart has surrendered in that area to God. It is a chance to examine our heart and see what is not yet in the LORD's hands.

August 13

Romans 7:23-25 (NIV) 23but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

Paul has described the knowledge of the Law causing us to be even more sinful. Once we know the will of God, we discover we cannot help going against it. Our mind desires to do good, but the sin that lives in us has mastered us. We set out to do good and find ourselves doing evil. He saw his life as a prisoner of sin that worked in him.

Remember, the Apostle grew up as a Pharisee. He loved the Law. He memorized it and the rules around it. But he was honest enough to know that he was constantly not living up to its high demands. This creates guilt. The guilt makes us miserable. We realize we cannot do what we want no matter how hard we try. In desperation, he asks if there is someone who can deliver him from this vicious cycle.

Thank God there is Someone! Jesus Christ our Master! Then he summarized his old condition. My mind is a slave to God's good law, but that nature that reigned in me was a slave to the evil law of sin. Jesus sets me free from that terrible agonizing conflict. When He becomes Lord, He reigns in my members as I offer them for His service.

The entire chapter that follows describes this new life, set free from the control of sin. 8:2 says that, through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. The conflict of chapter 7 is often quoted as if it should be our normal experience. NO! We are to be set free by letting Christ be the Master of our bodies and (as we saw in chapter 6) we should become instruments of righteousness.

Consider: Are you wretched or rescued?