August 22

2 Chronicles 32:19-21 (NIV) 19They spoke about the God of Jerusalem as they did about the gods of the other peoples of the world–the work of men's hands. 20King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz cried out in prayer to heaven about this. 21And the LORD sent an angel, who annihilated all the fighting men and the leaders and officers in the camp of the Assyrian king. So he withdrew to his own land in disgrace. And when he went into the temple of his god, some of his sons cut him down with the sword.

At this time in history, Assyria was conquering the known world. Its forces were unstoppable. They took Egypt and the nations around Judah. Israel had fallen. When they came to Judah, they took the fortified cities to the south. Archeologists have actually found pottery shards on which notes were written during the fall of Lachish and Azekah. There are still great murals in existence of the siege of Lachish by Assyria. But when they got to Jerusalem, they were unable to get through. They began with a propaganda war by saying that the God of Judah was like all the other gods that could not protect them from their great army. They had heard how Hezekiah had destroyed all the other gods and encouraged the worship of the one true God. The testimony had gone out into the world.

Here is something you don't see much of in Scripture. The king and the prophet cry out to God. They present the Assyrian mockery of God to the throne of God. Hezekiah told the people of Judah that the Assyrian army only had physical power and military might, but they had the LORD God of the universe helping them!

The LORD heard their prayer and sent an angel that annihilated huge numbers of Assyria's fighting men. History records that when the king of Assyria wrote his poem of conquest he said, "I shut up Hezekiah like a bird in a cage." Reading between the lines, you see he was unable to take Jerusalem and had to give up his siege. Upon returning to Assyria, some of his sons assassinated him as he worshipped in the temple of his god. His god could not deliver Jerusalem into his hands nor could he save his life. Now whose god is a sad record of not being able to protect? The possession of military superiority does not matter. What matters is who is on the LORD's side. I hope you are.

Consider: Anything other than the true God will fail and leave you disappointed and empty.

August 22

Romans 14:13, 17, 19 (NIV) 13Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way.

17For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,

19Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.

If the body of Christ could learn this lesson, what a difference it would make! How many have turned away because someone argued over some insignificant conviction? There are any number of things that are not clearly forbidden to us in Scripture. Some folks believe one way and everyone one else has a different idea. The Apostle is telling us not to argue about it. The Kingdom of God is not about whether or not you drink a glass of wine, or eat steak, or worship on Saturday. Those things are up to your personal conviction determined by your understanding of God and His Word.

A mature Christian is able to set aside His personal convictions about things that are nonessential so that he or she does not stumble a weaker Christian. If I am among Seventh Day Adventists, I will worship with them on Saturday. If I am among vegetarians, I will forego my right to eat meat. If I am with those who believe alcohol consumption is evil, I will certainly not drink alcohol. I will share with them righteousness, peace and joy in the Lord.

If we insist on our freedoms, we may damage our weaker brother or sister. If we argue over matters, they may be encouraged to do something they do not have faith to do. Let the Holy Spirit convince them if it is necessary. Can't we trust the Teacher to do His work in their lives? Our insistence on others seeing our perspective is often no more than pride. Do and say what leads to peace and mutual edification.

Remember: Share the many things you do have in common so that you will both be encouraged.