2 Chronicles 27-28

Ahaz sacrifices his son to a pagan god and kisses #blessed goodbye. 

“Therefore the LORD his God delivered him into the hands of the king of Aram. The Arameans defeated him and took many of his people as prisoners and brought them to Damascus. He was also given into the hands of the king of Israel, who inflicted heavy casualties on him.” (28:5)

Still the LORD sends Oded to advocate for Judah’s captives. 

I don’t know if it’s worthwhile to try to get to the bottom of why someone would choose a god who requires child sacrifice over a God who forbids that sort of thing and extends grace alongside discipline. It is, however, worthwhile to notice how gloriously different the God of Abraham is among other gods. 

This stark contrast was to be God’s mode of “evangelism” in the ancient near east. Positioned on a trade route the entire earth used, word could get out about a people whose God provided for them, had clear expectations and loved His people. He starts with love, where as all the other gods started with anger, needing to be appeased. There was always much more at stake than the wealth of Israel. How was the world going to know about this Beautiful Lord if Israel busied themselves with blending in?

This God wasn’t blindly loyal to Israel either. Whenever necessary, He used their enemies to accomplish His tasks. Because, listen, HE IS THE LORD AND KING OF THE WHOLE WORLD.

I’m so glad He’s not like us. Whenever we try to make Him into our own, understandable image, He doesn’t fit. I’m so glad He takes matters into His own hands and didn’t wait for Israel to tell us about Him. I’m so glad matters are still in His hands and I can be still and know that HE is God and HIS name will exalted among the nations.

Make us more like you, Jesus.

-Bethany 


2 Chronicles 25-26

“And Amaziah said to the man of God, ‘But what shall we do about the hundred talents that I have given to the army of Israel?’ The man of God answered, ‘The Lord is able to give you much more than this.’ ” 25:9

How many times have we blurted out but what about the money?! to the Lord? As the reigning king, I imagine Amaziah was NOT short on cash, yet when God tells him to call off the soldiers he had just hired, his greed and dependency on worldly currency is revealed.

I’ve written about money on here several times, because you can’t read the Bible without reading about money. God talks a lot about it and so do his people. Everyone I know, every. one. I. know. has voiced a struggle, concern or fear regarding their finances. The Bible is alive and well, my friends. And relatable as ever!

Money keeps us humble. It throws logs on the fire of pride. It divides people, it unites people. It reveals your integrity pretty instantly. What’s your relationship with money?

I asked myself this and when allowed myself to answer honestly, I was embarrassed. I teeter between a cushy life God did not call me to and living fearfully and not relying on Him. It’s an area I can always, always improve on.

Like Amaziah, I have pointed towards my finances and reminded God about them as if he didn’t consider my silly, human problem. He knows about money. He knows about your money, or lack there of. He anticipates our problems. Is he calling you into something, but all you can see are numbers? Logistics are important, and it is godly behavior to tend to them, but don’t let them stop you from obeying God.

Seek first the kingdom of Heaven. The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. You cannot love money and love God. The Bible is peppered with reasons not to worry about money.

Join me in praying for forgiveness in the ways I treat money incorrectly and distrust our Heavenly Father. He is the most faithful and perfect provider!

 

-Carly

2 Chronicles 23-24

This period of Israel’s history gives me whiplash. No matter how great things go once they return to the LORD, no one stays there long. I think the most alarming to me is Joash turning on Jehoiada’s counsel and children. He goes from baby Anakin to Darth Vadar the moment opportunity arises. 

It reminds me of how quickly I can go to “the dark place” when things seem confusing or out of hand. Don’t I remember the faithfulness of God? Aren’t I living proof of His grace, generosity and goodness? Why do I despair the moment I can’t see around the corner? Because, deep down, I’m a little twerp like Joash, only successful when I’m hemmed in by God’s presence and the counsel of His saints. 

Why is it we so desperately need the body of Christ? Why does Paul implore us to not give up meeting together? Because following God is a team sport and every way there is to obey Him presupposes others: Love one another. Forgive one another. Bear one another’s burdens. Be hospitable, etc.

Joash makes the change when suddenly these officers are bowing before him. Wow, how nice, my pride enjoys this. Sure, let’s do your thing because you are a fan of me. I don’t have to listen to that old guy anymore. I’m The Man! Yeah, well buckle up, because the king of Damascus is going to swiftly become God’s agent for taking you out. 

We need each other. We need to stay humble and pursue wisdom. I think my generation is capable of great things and some of that will involve challenging old practices, but I hope and pray we don’t go too far and throw out our Jehoiadas at the same time. 

I still need to seek first His Kingdom and His Righteousness. Let’s do that together today.

-Bethany 

2 Chronicles 21-22

Yuck. Jehoram’s reign is marked with rebellion and cruelty. He married an idol-worshipper. He killed his six brothers. He was awful man whom God punished with an awful death.

Elijah is only briefly mentioned in the book of Chronicles, but you can read more about him in 1 & 2 Kings. He has a fascinating story and unique relationship with God.

When I read this today, I caught myself thinking that not everyone gets a letter read to them by a prophet, written by God, warning us of our impending punishment as a result of our sinful lives. Except we do. We are all Jehoram. Jesus is our Elijah. And even better, we have a way out of our punishment. Because of his grace, we have the gospel. 

Our letters don’t end with terrible, daunting news of everlasting suffering, but instead boast of everlasting life. Jesus took on our punishment and awful death so that we can be with him, marked clean. Let’s share this story. Instead of cowering away from those who live cruel lives, pray for them. Remember that you too are Jehoram, undeserving of a slate wiped clean.

Share the gospel with someone who needs it. (Today it was me, and I’m so grateful for access to the God’s word who reminds me of it!)

 

-Carly

2 Chronicles 19-20

I was reminded of a blog post I wrote almost 5 years ago, loosely on chapter 20. You can read it here.

Back then, the troubles in our nation were random shootings, namely Newtown. We thought we were beside ourselves, then, but unfortunately the world hasn’t become a better place in the last 5 years.

“We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on You.” (20:12)

I often find myself grasping for beautiful things. Babies are still being born, Jesus is still enthroned. Instead of becoming desensitized, I’ve some how become extra sensitive and weepy, surrounding myself with all things G rated. 

I’m reminded that Jesus left HEAVEN to live in the Middle East during the Roman Empire and die in one of the most excruciating executions in history. He must love us A WHOLE LOT.

“Surely He took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered Him punished by God, stricken by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”‭‭ (Isaiah‬ ‭53:4-6‬)

Let’s go forth today praising Our Wonderful Beautiful Savior. He has taken our fear and the sting of death. 

“Give thanks to the LORD, for His loving kindness is everlasting.” (20:21)

-Bethany 

2 Chronicles 17-18

“Then Jehoshaphat added, “But first let’s find out what the Lord says.” 18:4

This story about Jehoshaphat got me thinking about what it looks like to consult the Lord. If you didn’t read today’s chapters, do so! They’re good. 

So in 2017, a time in history where Jesus has given us full access to his Holy Spirit, what does it look like to find out what the Lord says? Here are some methods I use: 

-Check the Bible. When I’m trying to make a decision about something, I try to think if there’s a clear, black-and-white verse about it. 

-Prayer. Simply bringing matters to God through prayer, journaling, speaking aloud to him in the car, etc, connects me to him and allows me to process what I’m going through. He often meets me in prayer and guides my heart. It’s always helpful, even the moments I don’t feel like I get an answer. 

-Consult a godly, reliable source. I love talking through things with my husband, or a reliable friend. I know they love me, but they love obeying God more and prioritize it when they give me advice. 

-Filter what they’re telling me through Scripture. Godly advice is great, especially out of the mouth of godly people, but I know I can always, always, always trust the Bible. As we read today, people’s intentions can sometimes cloud their advice. Sift everything, podcasts, sermons and any advice, through God’s word. 

Notice a theme? The Bible is the ultimate authority on what God expects from us. He has gifted us his Holy Spirit, who enables people to prophesize, can even appear to us in dreams and directs our hearts. 

Talk with him today! 
-Carly 

2 Chronicles 15-16

Asa’s life is full of ups and downs. He cried out to God at some critical times, but then at other times, forgot He was a option. He aggressively removed the Asherah, but neglected the high places. He ran to the LORD when there was no hope, but relied on reasonable resources (government allies and healthcare) when they could be found. This wasn’t what God was hoping for Asa. 

“For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.” (16:9)

The LORD told Israel, back in Deuteronomy, to beware of the day of plenty:

“When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land He has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe His commands, His laws and His decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” (‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭8:10-14‬)

In these days here in France, wondering where God is leading, trying to be faithful each day to the things He’s called me to, I long for a day when I won’t be so desperate. But really, this is a fine place to be: fully aware of my need for Him. Not defaulting to cushy resources. I want to run the race to the finish, not end up crippled and bitter. 

God lead me in dismantling anything that would dare share my devotion to You. I don’t want to leave any “high places” but I’m blind to some of those, for sure. I want to clean house and leave your throne room full of You and You alone. Thank you for being here in my desperation and answering me prayers each day. You are amazing and I love You. 

-Bethany