August 24

2 Chronicles 35:20-22 (NIV) 20After all this, when Josiah had set the temple in order, Neco king of Egypt went up to fight at Carchemish on the Euphrates, and Josiah marched out to meet him in battle. 21But Neco sent messengers to him, saying, "What quarrel is there between you and me, O king of Judah? It is not you I am attacking at this time, but the house with which I am at war. God has told me to hurry; so stop opposing God, who is with me, or he will destroy you." 22Josiah, however, would not turn away from him, but disguised himself to engage him in battle. He would not listen to what Neco had said at God's command but went to fight him on the plain of Megiddo.

Josiah had been a godly king and restored the temple worship, but the prophet had told him God's judgments were inevitable. In our passage today, Josiah does what seemed good, but not at God's leading. In fact, God warned him through the mouth of a heathen king. Carchemish must have been an ally of Judah and it seemed to make sense to fight together their common threat, Egypt. The words of the king of Egypt should have given Josiah a check to seek God's plan. When we step out on our own, with our own reason, we can place ourselves in harms way. God is faithful to warn us, even through the lips of an unbeliever. Remember in Jesus' day when the High Priest said, "It is better for one man to die than the nation to perish"? Though he did not know it, it was a prophetic word.

We shouldn't ignore what unbelievers say when they are rebuking us. It may be the Lord. I have heard unbelievers say, "I thought you trusted in God." Ouch. God will use those who are unbelievers to remind us to look to Him.

Josiah was a great king and gave the nation one more chance to turn back to God, but he put himself in a position to be taken out of the scene early by not being sensitive to God's warnings.

Remember: The rebuke from an unbeliever may come at the Lord's command.

August 24

1 Corinthians 2:2-5 (NIV) 2For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. 4My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, 5so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power.

In this passage, Paul is describing the difference between the wisdom of men and the wisdom of God. He wrote that God trips men up in their worldly wisdom. The work of salvation is not an intellectual enlightenment but a work of the Spirit of God drawing us to Christ. He becomes the Wisdom of God to us.

Then Paul illustrates his point by describing how he acted when he was with them. He intentionally focused on two things, Jesus and His death on the cross. He knew that the Greeks were into intellectual debates, but he also knew that he needed to stay focused on what mattered. How far we often wander from the central truth when we begin trying to prove our points, tit for tat, with a skeptic. When Christ draws them, they will yield or they won't. How many arguments have you observed where neither party was open to one thing the other said? I think that is the bulk of arguments.

Paul reminded the Corinthians that he did not follow this route of reliance on the mind of man. He didn't cajole and plot to manipulate while sharing Christ with them. Instead he allowed the Spirit of God to work through him. One reason he preached in that manner was so that they would not rely on men's wisdom, but on God's power. If their faith rested on the wisdom of men, the next clever speaker would have them off in another direction.

Consider: Do you rely on wisdom of men or the demonstration of the Spirit and of power? Certainly we should study our Bible and understand the passage we share as fully as we can, but what are we trusting to move the heart of our listeners?