August 15

2 Chronicles 24:17-18 (NIV) 17After the death of Jehoiada, the officials of Judah came and paid homage to the king, and he listened to them. 18They abandoned the temple of the LORD, the God of their fathers, and worshiped Asherah poles and idols. Because of their guilt, God's anger came upon Judah and Jerusalem.

Jehoiada the priest was a very positive influence on Joash and upon the nation of Judah. God's grace allowed him to live to be 130 years old. Once he died, the officials of Judah began to exert their influence upon Joash. Instead of influencing the world around them with their faith in Jehovah, they wanted to be like the world around them and worship Asherah poles and idols. Joash was so influenced by them that the temple of God, which he had insisted be repaired, fell into disuse.

God sent prophets to warn the people that they would not prosper if they continued down this path. Today, in our culture, we need to be the voice that warns that our nation will not prosper if we continue our current trend of forsaking the worship of the true God. One of the voices that spoke out was Jehoiada's own son, Zechariah. He warned that if they forsook God, He would forsake them. The officials convinced the king to have him put to death. This was the son of the man who had saved him and set him up as king. He signed the order and Zechariah was stoned in the temple courtyard. When the voices of truth are silenced so that the people can go their own way without God, judgment is at hand. The next spring, the army of Aram came and killed all the officials that had such an evil influence and took the treasures of the city to Damascus. Joash lay wounded in his bed. His court servants assassinated him in revenge for the death of Zechariah. A great beginning, but what a sad end!

We are tempted to not speak out for fear of facing Zechariah's fate. The alternative is to face the fate of Joash.

Consider: Life is fatal. We will all give an account of our life before God. Better to try to call those you influence to God, in hopes of repentance, rather than to be silent and die when God judges the land.

August 15

Romans 8:28-29 (NIV) 28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

Verse 28 is the most popular verse of believers today. It is easy to understand why. In this fallen world, sin causes such havoc in lives, so much pain. We can't help but be affected by the consequences of the sins of others. The thief has come to kill, steal and destroy, and sometimes he is allowed to do that in our lives. We see that so clearly in Job's story. It is an immense help to realize that God will, in some way we cannot yet perceive, cause the effects of that in our life to ultimately work for something good. The world does not love Him, and so it is not called to His purposes, but we do. The promise gives us a sure hope to cling to through the difficult times. Watch for the good God is working into your life through suffering.

The next verse tells us the ultimate good of the suffering we endure. It is conforming us into the image of Christ. It is causing us to rely entirely on our Father as Jesus did. It is teaching us to express faith and patience like Jesus did. We are learning to share others' pain and joy like Jesus did. This is the destiny of every child of God, transformation into the likeness of the Son.

Whatever it takes to transform us, we will endure. You can help the process move along by being thankful instead of bitter. One of the greatest hindrances to the process is when we become angry at God for the suffering. The suffering inflicted is the enemy's work. God is working to bring good out of it. You say, "Yes but God allowed it!" It is true; the alternative is a world of robots that are not free to do anything but compulsory obedience. Then we'd be asking why a loving God would not let us be free. God has chosen the best route for you to be conformed to the likeness of His Son. It isn't any easy route, but it is the best one. Have you blamed God for some tragedy in life? Realize that it was not God that brought it. It is God that brings good out of it if we love Him and are open to His transforming work in us.

Challenge: Memorize these two verses.