August 21

2 Chronicles 30:18-20 (NIV) 18Although most of the many people who came from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun had not purified themselves, yet they ate the Passover, contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, "May the LORD, who is good, pardon everyone 19who sets his heart on seeking God–the LORD, the God of his fathers–even if he is not clean according to the rules of the sanctuary." 20And the LORD heard Hezekiah and healed the people.

Hezekiah had just come to power. The nation was in shambles because of the sins of the former King. The first thing Hezekiah did was cleanse the Temple and prepare to celebrate the Passover. He invited those from every tribe who had not been taken captive to join them in returning to the LORD. Many mocked him, but a great number humbled themselves and came to the feast.

Some of those who came had not gone through the ritual purification to be able to eat the Passover, but in their zeal to return to God, they went ahead and joined in the Passover meal. Hezekiah asked the LORD, who is good, to pardon everyone who had set their heart on seeking God, even though they had not gone through the ritual cleansing period. God heard and healed them.

The Old Testament is full of illustrations where the heart of man is more important than ritual or the details of the Law. Jesus reminded the religious leaders of His day of David eating the Shewbread that only the priest were allowed to eat. God looks at the heart. When you have people who come out of sin to seek the LORD they are usually not cleaned up or familiar with what is right. They may speak and even act in ways you consider un-Christian. Remember, God who is good, will pardon them if their heart is set on seeking Him. Let the Holy Spirit bring conviction and change. If you feel led to correct them, do so lovingly and gently. In this chapter there was great joy. It would have been dampened had Hezekiah rebuked all who were not up on the rules of the Sanctuary and the Passover meal. Instead, he encouraged the Levites who did know and they did a good job according to the Word of God.

Consider: Be gracious with young Christians as God was gracious with these worshippers.

August 21

Romans 13:12-14 (NIV) 12The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

Darkness and night in Scripture are the conditions for evil. Those who do evil prefer not to be seen. It is the absence of the illuminating truth of God. We preferred it before we came to Christ, but now we are to step out of the darkness and into the light. We are to clothe ourselves in the armor of light. That means that wherever we go, people should see Jesus in us. We no longer participate in those things described in verse 13. In the light, we can see how destructive those things are. Because the light has changed the value we place on the things of the world, our behavior is different. The armor protects us.

As young Christians, we must allow the light to test our former activities. We have a mindset that certain things are normal or even good, when in reality, they are of darkness. Once the light has exposed the true nature of the behavior, we must then allow the Word of God to correct our attitude toward it. Then we need the Spirit of God to change our habits.

Daily, we need to clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ. If we are covered in Him, we cannot step into darkness without flooding it with light. His presence shows everything's true nature. The mind is the organ that most needs His presence. It is there that we entertain deceptive enticements that would have pleased our old self. But if Christ is there as Lord, we recognize those thoughts as deceitful and destructive and reject them.

Are you clothed in Jesus? Is your mind illuminated with His presence? When faced with temptation, consciously think about being in Him. Ask for the light of the truth to reveal the true nature of that temptation. Remember that you are a child of the Day and of Light.