Faith, as small as a mustard seed

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Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Hebrews 11:1

12 Keys to Faith

#1: No fear. You can not fear man, man’s words or his countenance
Faith requires great boldness and courage. It takes – well, sometimes, it is putting yourself in a position to be mocked or made fun of. It’s an action, it’s words spoken, it’s like the bible says “faith without works is dead”. God’s faith doesn’t match the logic of our world. To speak life over a person close to death takes great boldness and faith. You must be able to ignore the sneers, comments, countenance and words that go against what you believe. You must stand unshakable in Christ Jesus.

“I, yes I, am the one who comforts you.
So why are you afraid of mere humans,
who wither like the grass and disappear?.Is 51:12

Nehemiah was a man who was unmoved by the defeating words of his enemy. He sought out to do the impossible . He kept his focus and led in the rebuilding of Jerusalem.

#2: Never Give up. Believe that God can do the impossible
Think of the moment Peter was about to step out of the boat, that’s where we need to be with our faith. Taking the leap even though everyone tells you  “No, that’s impossible”.  Sometimes we think our situation is hopeless and there is no end, but that is not true. We can trust in God even in the most hopeless situation. God rescues us, this we can count on. Consider this trying time to be a test of your faith.

“With God, all things are possible” Matthew 19:26, mark 10:27, Luke 18:27
For with God nothing will be impossible.Luke 1:37

Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the Lord delivers him out of them all. Psalms 34:19

let God be true, but every man a liar. Romans 3:4

   He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day Psalm 91:1-16

 

#3 Count it all joy
Even in the darkest hours, I can have joy in my heart. I have this joy because I keep my faith in God’s word. Sure, things can shake us up, but we need to be ready with our sword (which is the word of God) and warfare (our protection Eph 6). Maybe we can see it as a faith meter, keeping our tank full or keeping our focus on God’s truth.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:3-5

 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1-4

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit  1 Thessalonians 5:16-19

#4 Be willing to risk looking like a fool to the world, but a faithful servant to the Lord-: Not ashamed or embarrassed. 
Faith means that you are willing to look foolish before the world and those around you. Don’t you think those in Noah’s day thought Noah was a complete fool? He was building a huge ark- for what? His sons were busy building this big ark, I’m sure their friends and family thought they were crazy.

It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before. By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world, and he received the righteousness that comes by faith Hebrews 11

What do you think Abraham’s family thought of him when he went to sacrifice his son or when he left his entire family and his hometown to an unknown location that the Lord was leading him to? So many examples are in the bible of men and woman who did the impossible, they went against what others and the world would have had them do – Esther,  Ruth, Abraham, Jacob, Abel, Joshua, Moses, Moses parents, the people of Israel when they walked through the waters, Issac, Joseph,Jeremiah, Ezekiel, David, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter, Paul and many more.

A friend of mine was told her mother was not going to live through the night.  She spoke scriptures over her mother and told the doctors and nurses: “no! my mother will live”. Some laughed, some tried to comfort her with her mothers death but no one believed her words. Guess what! Her mother lived and she was miraculously healed. My daughter spoke out in faith when the doctor told her she needed back surgery. She risked being called a fool by saying to the doctor “ You are wrong and God is going to heal me”. That’s amazing faith. This faith pleases the Lord.

Abel is spoken of as a man of great faith. He gave the Lord the best he had. He trusted the Lord and was not afraid to give up his best.  His brother hated him, so we can guess that his brother would try to discourage him with words “Why do you need to sacrifice so much?”.  I’m sure his brother would verbally hurt him, but Abel didn’t let his brothers words and countenance affect him and his faith. He always stood firm.

#5 Speak life- speak out – stop complaining. Tell others that you trust in God. Let your life be a testimony of praise for Him.

Then those who feared the Lord spoke with each other, and the Lord listened to what they said. In his presence, a scroll of remembrance was written to record the names of those who feared him and always thought about the honor of his name. Malachi 3:16

Reading over Hebrews 11, I see that faith is more than just believing. It’s moving out in faith, it’s fearless and it’s willing to risk everything. Before, I only noticed the obedience and faith of the great patriarchs, I never considered the persecution they endured because of their faith. Faith is when you don’t rely on man’s words, worldly knowledge or influence. It’s when you step out – in a new realm. It’s just like walking on the water. You are about to do something that no one would believe. With God, ALL things are possible.

 It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed that God would keep his promise.  And so a whole nation came from this one man who was as good as dead—a nation with so many people that, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. Prov 18:21

#6 Don’t let your faith be tossed around like the waves of the sea – believing one minute and doubting the next. No fear, No doubt
 Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yoursMark 11:23-24
If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.  Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do. James 1:6-8

#7 : Have scripture ready, close-by at all times to crush any doubt, unbelief or lies that the devil wants you to worry about 

 And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you .Luke 10:18-19

  One important key to faith is your sword, which is the word of God. I wrote down scripture that defeats any lie or false thinking that may enter my mind. I posted them all over my house-  on my refrigerator, oven, doors, cabinets, mirrors, walls, children’s rooms and everywhere. That may sound crazy to some, but every time I walk by the scripture I read it out loud and it changes me. I woke up so tired the other day, moping into the kitchen and boom! There was scripture in my face when I looked up. I said it out loud and I could feel my faith meter for that day increasing. It’s really amazing.   In the verse below, we learn that Jesus wants to do miracles for us but unbelief gets in the way.

 “ And so he did only a few miracles there because of their unbelief..and because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them” (Matt13:58, Mark 6:5)

Looking back to the examples of the Israelites in the wilderness, their doubt and unbelief angered the Lord. Some were killed by plague, other times they lost their protection. Ultimately their fear and doubt caused a 2 week journey to turn into a 40 year journey of testing.  When the Lord showed them the promised land, only 2 out of the 10 spies believed God would deliver them. Eight of the 10 men said it would be impossible and caused the entire congregation to doubt, fear and complain to the Lord. The 8 doubting spies feared the people in the land, for they were giants. The congregation wept and cried all night long from hearing the fearful and hopeless report. They complained to Moses and doubted God. The Lord was angry and those who feared in unbelief died in the plague.

The Lord said to Moses“How long will these people treat me with contempt? Will they never believe me, even after all the miraculous signs I have done among them?  I will disown them and destroy them with a plague. Then I will make you into a nation greater and mightier than they are!”.” Numbers 14:11

“Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice; Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it: But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it. …. the Lord have said, I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die. And the men, which Moses sent to search the land, who returned, and made all the congregation to murmur against him, by bringing up a slander upon the land, Even those men that did bring up the evil report upon the land, died by the plague before the Lord.”

Hebrews 3: Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says:
“Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
In the day of trial in the wilderness, Where your fathers tested Me, tried Me,
And saw My works forty years.  Therefore I was angry with that generation,
And said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, And they have not known My ways.’
So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’” Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God;  but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.  For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, 15 while it is said:“Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? 17 Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? 19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

#8: Learning to wait. Faith takes patience, or waiting time in which we hope

Consider the life of Joseph; he was hated and rejected by his 10 brothers. They sold him and he ended up as a slave in another land of another language. He was later forgotten in a prison cell. Joseph could have given up at any moment, but he didn’t. He could have thought- well, this is it, I’m going to die here, my life is over. However, Psalm 105 tells us that God was testing him.

“He sent a man before them— Joseph—who was sold as a slave. They hurt his feet with fetters, He was laid in irons.  Until the time that his word came to pass, The word of the Lord tested him.  The king sent and released him, The ruler of the people let him go free.  He made him lord of his house, And ruler of all his  possessions.”

   How many of us today would have withstood that test?

In Act7, we are told that God delivered Joseph from all his troubles- and that same promise is for you also. God doesn’t promise us a life without trials or troubles, but He does promise us that He will rescue us, He will deliver us. He will deliver you from all your troubles.

  • Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers him out of them all. Psalms 34:19
  • Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!Psalm 27:14
  •  Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. Psalm 33:20
  • Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass Psalm 37:7

#9 Believe!

Here’s a lesson the Lord taught me last week as I pondered on the faith that pleases God:
Within my heart, I heard:
Do you believe you have eternal life? I said of course I do, I believe that. I have no doubt.
Do you believe Jesus died on the cross for you sins? Yes, I do, I do.
Do you believe God cares for you? Yes, I do
You believe everything in the bible to be true, but why does your faith toss like a wave when you are believing for me to rescue you? to answer your prayers? To heal you? that whatever you ask in My name, it will be given?
If you believe, because of your faith, that you have eternal life and that Jesus died on the cross for you, you should have the same faith for all of my words.
 I have noticed that my faith can be just like the waves described in scripture. That’s where doubt, fear and hopelessness try to enter my thoughts. Remembering Phil 4:8 has helped me. I know the enemy tries to destroy our faith in the Lord. He sends arrows of doubt, fear and unbelief into our thoughts, but God has given us the power to reject those wrong thoughts . God has given us Spiritual warfare in order to fully protect us – and they do!
  •  And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith Matthew 21:22
  • He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to GodRomans 4:20
  • I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord Psalm 19:14
  •  For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.2 Timothy 1:7
  • So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Romans 10:17
  • Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go Joshua 1:9
  •  What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, …Romans 4:1-25
  •  We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ 2 Corinthians 10:5
  • And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.Hebrews 11:6
  •  For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13

#10 Pray to Him- Cry out to Him and he will hear you( Gen 21:14-21. 1 Kings 17:18-24, Luke 8:40-48)

Psalm 107
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.
Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out!
Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies.
For he has gathered the exiles from many lands,
from east and west, from north and south.

Some wandered in the wilderness, lost and homeless.
Hungry and thirsty, they nearly died.
“Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble,
and he rescued them from their distress.
He led them straight to safety,to a city where they could live.
Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them.For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.

Some sat in darkness and deepest gloom, imprisoned in iron chains of misery.
They rebelled against the words of God, scorning the counsel of the Most High.
That is why he broke them with hard labor; they fell, and no one was there to help them.
“Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
He led them from the darkness and deepest gloom; he snapped their chains.
Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them. For he broke down their prison gates of bronze; he cut apart their bars of iron.

Some were fools; they rebelled and suffered for their sins.
They couldn’t stand the thought of food, and they were knocking on death’s door.
“Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
He sent out his word and healed them, snatching them from the door of death.
Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them.Let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving and sing joyfully about his glorious acts.

#11: Have a right relationship with the Lord 

You must love the Lord you God with all your heart, all your mind, all your soul and all your strength. You must love your neighbor as yourself.”we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law” Roman 3:28.This doesn’t give us an excuse to continue on in any sin we are living in. Sin in our lives  can interfere with our prayers. Don’t let sin be a stumbling block. Don’t pretend to Honor God with your lips but turn your back on Him.

  • Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered 1 Peter 3:7
  • Clearly, God’s promise to give the whole earth to Abraham and his descendants was based not on his obedience to God’s law, but on a right relationship with God that comes by faith. Romans 4:13
  •  Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead. I findthat your actions do not meet the requirements of my God.Revelation 3:2

#12 Remember all He has done – keep a journal of remembrance

Keep a journal. Stop and recall all the miracles He’s done in your life. Remembering builds up your faith.

“By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. 35 Women received their loved ones back again from death.But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. 36 Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. 37 Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. 38 They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground. All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised.  For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us. Heb 11

Related articles:

https://prepareforthelamb.wordpress.com/2014/03/22/faith-as-small-as-a-mustard-seed-can-move-mountains-how-can-i-have-that-faith/

Hezekiah, 13th King of Judah

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King Hezekiah handled the distribution throughout all Judah, doing what was pleasing and good in the sight of the Lord his God. In all that he did in the service of the Temple of God and in his efforts to follow God’s laws and commands, Hezekiah sought his God wholeheartedly. As a result, he was very successful.

A little background before we begin: the nation of Israel divided after King Solomon (because Solomon abandoned the Lord – 1 King11)  The north, or Samaria, had 10 tribes and the south, Judah had 2 tribes. Long story short, North Israel- Samaria  was ultimately destroyed while  Hezekiah reigned in Judah, the kingdom of Israel was  taken captive by Assyria and the people were scattered among the nations. The remaining nation of Judah stood alone. The bible tells us the that the fall of Israel was due to the sins of their kings and the people. I’m not talking about one or two sins, I’m talking about years and years of the people rejecting God, rejecting God’s laws, refusing to listen to warning and finally meeting their ultimate destruction.

Enter King Hezekiah at age 25 as King of Judah. Now Judah was not without fault, but within Judah, God saw a remnant of righteousness and King Hezekiah was one who stood out at being righteous before the Lord.   The Kings had the power to bring sin or righteousness into the nation with their leading. Hezekiah’s father, King Ahaz was a wicked king, even sacrificing his own sons and being in alliance with Assyria, yes the nation who destroyed their own family to the north, Israel. Hezekiah, his son,  steps in and changes everything – for the good.

Hezekiah begins to rule in the 3rd year of King Hoshea of Israel. Just 6 years later, Samaria/Israel is wiped out and destroyed by Assyria leaving only southern Judah ruled by Hezekiah standing strong. Samaria/ Israel falls during Hezekiah’s of Judah’s 6th year because ” Israel refused to listen to the Lord their God and obey him” . Assyria eventually goes after Judah, because, unlike his father, Hezekiah will not submit to Assyria. Assyria is  unsuccessful, all  thanks to the Lord’s amazing help, his angelic army, and his strategic maneuvers.

Hezekiah’s story begins in 2 Chronicles 29 and 2 Kings 18 (Also in Isaiah)

K Hezekiah did what was pleasing to the Lord

  • He repaired and opened the Temple doors
  • Demanded the Levites purify themselves and once again lead the people to worship the Lord
  • Cleansed the temple
  • brought back the Passover
  • during his reign, the leaders of Simeon completely destroyed the descendants of Ham and the Meunites- No trace of them remains today. They destroyed them and took their land. They also destroyed the few Amalekites who survived.
  • Brought back the feasts of the Lord
  • held the greatest celebration to the Lord since the days of Solomon
  • He remained faithful to the Lord in everything, obeying all the commands of Moses
  • He conquered the Philistines in Gaza
  • he broke the bronze serpent that Moses had made because the people of Israel had been offering scarifies to it. They had named it Nehushtan
  • Brought goods back into the storehouses for the Priests
  • brought knowledge to the people by having Levites teach the knowledge of the Lord
  • repaired walls, erected towers, put up a second wall , reinforced terraces
  • manufactured weapons and shields
  • built special treasury buildings for his silver, gold, precious stones, spices, shields and other valuables
  • built a pool and dug a tunnel to bring water into the city
  • saved a nation because of his humble heart and obedience to God
  • He constructed many storehouses for grain, new wine and olive oil.
  • He made many stalls for his cattle and pens for his flocks of sheep and goats
  • He built many towns and God gave him great wealth
  • He blocked up the upper spring of Gihon
  • he brought back the Passover and feasts of the Lord
  • he purified the priests, the temple and the people
  • collected and recorded Proverbs of King Solomon Pr 25-
  • He brought back and obeyed all the commands of God, the commands the Lord have to King David
  • “And so he succeeded in everything he did” 2 Chronicles 32:30
  • lived during time of prophet Isaiah and prophet Micah of Moresheth

Once the Temple and priests were cleansed, he gathered the people and made a great offering/ sacrifice to the Lord for the sins of all the people

Imagine this first gathering of worship:

 The entire assembly worshiped the Lord as the singers sang and the trumpets blew, until all the burnt offerings were finished. Then the king and everyone with him bowed down in worship. King Hezekiah and the officials ordered the Levites to praise the Lord with the psalms written by David and by Asaph the seer. So they offered joyous praise and bowed down in worship…. So the Temple of the Lord was restored to service.  And Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced because of what God had done for the people, for everything had been accomplished so quickly.

This was an amazing day for the people, imagine everyone in the land coming together as one to offer praise and honor the Lord with song and rejoicing, but also with repentant hearts and acknowledgment of their sin and God’s mercy

This was just the beginning! He sent word inviting the people of Ephrain, Manasseh, Jerusalem, all Israel to come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. At this time, the people had not celebrated Passover. Word went out to all the people, some mocked them and others humbled themselves and went to Jerusalem.

A HUGE crowed assembled to celebrate God’s holy feast of unleavened bread! They removed the idols and the pagan altars. Although they missed the original day of Passover, instead of waiting for the proper day the following year, they held the Passover a month later than usual. The local people were not properly prepared or cleansed for this special feast so  Hezekiah prayed,  “May the Lord, who is good, pardon those 19 who decide to follow the Lord, the God of their ancestors, even though they are not properly cleansed for the ceremony.”  And the Lord listened to Hezekiah’s prayer and healed the people.

I find it amazing how quickly and instantly God hears prayers – there is no time delay or a waiting period. There may be a waiting period to be answered, but God immediately hears prayers. (also see Daniel, his prayer was instantly heard and instantly answered but demonic forces stood in the way of the answer arriving)

Imagine this holy celebration! It was the GREATEST CELEBRATION since the days of King Solomon:

The people of Israel in Jerusalem joyously celebrated the Festival of Unleavened Bread for 7 days! Each day the Levites and priests sang to the Lord, with  loud instruments The celebration continued for seven days. Peace offerings were sacrificed, and the people gave thanks to the Lord, the God of their ancestors.The entire assembly decided to continue the festival another seven days, so they celebrated joyfully for another week.  The entire assembly of Judah rejoiced, including the priests, the Levites, all who came from the land of Israel, the foreigners who came to the festival, and all those who lived in Judah. There was GREAT JOY, for Jerusalem had not seen a celebration like this one since the days of Solomon, King David’s son. Then the priests and Levites stood and blessed the people, and God heard their prayer from his holy dwelling in heaven.

Wow, just wow.

After the celebration, the people continued to destroy all the idols, pillars, poles, shrines and pagan altars. K. Hezekiah made so many good changes, by good, I mean by bringing the people back to the Lord. Teaching them, bringing knowledge of God’s word to the people, restoring the duties of the priests and Levites in order to Honor the Lord as well as bringing the tithes of people back to the temple. The people gladly gave until there was an overflow of abundance.

TROUBLE COMES, Here comes Assyria….

King Sennacherib of Assyria invades Judah (remember, he had just destroyed Samaria and taken the land captive and Hezekiah’s father was bf with Assyria) . Hezekiah strategically blocks the Assyrians water supply, increases military strength, creates new weapons and enforces protection around the city. He tells the people: “Be strong and courageous! Don’t be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria or his mighty army, for there is a power far greater on our side!  He may have a great army, but they are merely men. We have the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles for us!” Hezekiah’s words greatly encouraged the people.

TAUNTING WORDS OF DISCOURAGEMENT AND DESPAIR

King Sennecherib of Assyria mocks King Hezekiah of Judah and his hope in God. His words are meant to discourage and crush the hope of the people. He mocked the God they hoped in. (2 Chronicles 32) The Assyrians shouted the threats and hopelessness to all who had gathered along the wall to listen. Instead of speaking in Arabic, they shouted in Hebrew so all the people could hear and understand. And they shouted:

  • What makes you think your God can rescue you from me?
  • Don’t let Hezekiah deceive you! Don’t listen to your king!
  • your king, Hezekiah, will never be able to rescue you from my power.
  • Don’t let your king fool you into trusting in the Lordby saying, ‘The Lord will surely rescue us. This city will never fall into the hands of the Assyrian king!’
  • no god of any nation or kingdom has ever yet been able to rescue his people from me or my ancestors.
  • Hezekiah is misleading you
  • Make a peace treaty with me and you will be blessed
  • perhaps you will say to me, ‘We are trusting in the Lordour God!’ But isn’t he the one who was insulted by Hezekiah?
  • Have the gods of any other nations ever saved their people from the king of Assyria?
  • Which of their gods was able to rescue its people from the destructive power of my predecessors?
  • the God of Hezekiah will also fail
  • What are you trusting in that makes you so confident?
  • What god of any nation has ever been able to save its people from my power? So what makes you think that the Lordcan rescue Jerusalem from me?”

These words of discouragement were shouted to all the people gathered on the walls of the city in their own language so they could understand and try to terrify them. King Hezekiah’s men tell the men to Assyria to shhhhhh! and talk in Arabic so the people wouldn’t hear but they refused and said ” King of Assyria wants all the people to hear it, for when we put you to seige, they will suffer with you! You will be hungry, thirsty so much you will eat your own dung and drink your own urine”

However, the king had commanded the people to be silent and not to answer the Assyrians so the people did not utter a word. The Kings men reported to Hezekiah and  tore their clothes in despair as they went. Hezekiah joins them, he tore his clothes, put on burlap and went to the Temple. He sent his men to call on Isaiah and request prayer  and tell the Lord how the king of Assyria had defied the living God.

ISAIAH STEPS IN

The prophet Isaiah and K.Hezekiah cried out in prayer.  and the Lord sent and angel to destroy the Assyrian army 185000 of them, the ground was littered with corpses when the rest of the Assyrian army awoke! God hears prayer! As prophesied, King Sennecherib of Assyria went back to Ninevah, his capital, and as he was worshiping his god Nisroch, his 2 sons killed him with a sword and Esahadon became next ruler of Assyria..see below for full story:

King Hezekiah sends messengers requesting prayer and and update on what is going on with Assyria.  Isaiah reports to K. Hezekiah: ” The Lord says: Do not be disturbed by this blasphemous speech against me from the Assyrian King’s messengers. Listen! I myself will move against him and the king will receive a message that he is needed at home. So he will return to his land where I will have him killed with a sword”

Then, as the Lord had said,  King Sennecherib  is called back home to Assyria and eventually killed by his own sons.(with a sword)- and even on his way back home, before his death, he sent more threats to Hezekiah, saying don’t trust in your God! He deceives you with promises.

Hezekiah prays in the temple with the letter spread out before the Lord and asks the Lord to look at the words , listen to the defiance against the living God.

Isaiah sends message to King of Assyria/ King Sennecherib 2 Kings19:20-30

The daughter of Zion laughs in your face –  oh Assyria, you are despised, we shake our heads as you walk by, what a joke you are

Who do you think you’ve been defiling? Against who did your raise your voice? No one messes with our God, the living God, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, No one.

You think your men and your chariots make you so great? you think because you’ve destroyed nations that you are above God? You sit in your abundance of pride, but God is not mocked.

Your end approaches. Have you not heard? The Lord planned this out before you existed! Long ago, and now it is happening. I planned for you to crush those nations, that was the Lord, not your own power.  But Oh Assyria, the Lord know you very well. He knows where you go, where you came from, the words youve spoken against Him and now the Lord says ” I will put a hook in your nose and a bit in your mouth. I will make your return by the same road on which you came”

Isaiah gives Hezekiah a promise from the Lord (vs29) and another word against the king of Assyria- that their armies would not enter Jerusalem, nor surround it, the king will return to his own country

THAT NIGHT!

An angel of the Lord went out to the Assyrian camp and killed 18500 Assyrian soldiers

Hezekiahs untimely death and sickness about this time- Hezekiah is in his 14th year of reign and all this stuff with Assyria just went down…

Hezekiah becomes deathly ill,  Isaiah brings a word from the Lord to him ” Get your affairs in order, you are going to die, you will not recover” but prayer….. Hezekiah prayed to the Lord and before Isaiah had left, the Lord said – Go back and tell Hezekiah, I have heard his prayer and in 3 days I will heal you. I have seen your tears. I will add 15 years to your life and I will rescue you and this city from Assyria- for the sake of my servant David.

The SUN GOES BACKWARDS? FIG OINTMENT?

Read 2 Kings 20:7-11 We have and odd verse that Isaiah made a fig ointment that was put on the kings boils, then he was healed. Also a sign was given to Hezekiah proving God would heal him, he was given the option of the shadow on the sundial to forward 10 steps or backward 10 steps, Well Hezekiah says backwards, because it always goes forward. And Isaiah prayed, and the Lord caused the shadow to move 10 steps backward on the sundial of Ahaz!

Sin of PRIDE Sneaks in the Heart 

After the Lord healed him, scripture says : “But Hezekiah’s heart was proud and he did not respond to the kindness shown him; therefore the Lord’s wrath was on him and on Judah and Jerusalem.  Then Hezekiah repented of the pride of his heart, as did the people of Jerusalem; therefore the Lord’s wrath did not come on them during the days of Hezekiah.

The Test of Hezekiah’s heart

You have to read the version in Chronicles, Isaiah and Kings to get the full picture . Here it is:

God withdrew himself from Hezekiah in order  to test him and see what was really in his heart.  This happened when Hezekiah decided to show the ambassadors from Babylon every single thing he owned when they visited him”

The son of the king of Babylon heard Hezekiah was healed of his sickness (boils) and sent good wishes and a gift to Hezekiah. Hezekiah welcomed the people of Babylon into his house and showed them everything in his royal treasuries.

This reminds me of a verse in 2 John :If anyone comes to your meeting and does not teach the truth about Christ, don’t invite that person into your home or give any kind of encouragement. Anyone who encourages such people becomes a partner in their evil work.” Hezekiah should not have let the ambassordors to Babylon in his house nor shown them all he had.

Somehow, that I do not understand, this was a test of Hezekiah’s heart. Was he firm in standing with God? Did he honor God’s house? Who did he trust? it seems he did not pass this test.

Isaiah soon comes along and questions Hezekiah about what he’s just done..yeah- showing the enemy all your treasures, being their friend and bringing them into your house. The Lord then sent a message: The time is coming when everything in your palace, all the treasures stored up by your ancestors until now, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left. Some of your very own sons will be taken away into exile” and the King thought to himself ” At least there will be peace and security during my lifetime” ( Hezekiah knew something more)

We always need to be on alert for sin in our heart. K. Hezekiah became proud and the Lord was angry,  The anger came against the land of Judah and Jerusalem but not during K. Hezekiah’s lifetime

Hezekiah in book of Jeremiah:

Hezekiah was remembered among the people in Josiah’s day (Hezekiah’s great grandson) for honoring God’s prophet when doom was pronounced on  them. Usually a king would kill a bearer of bad news, but when the prophet Micah prophesied disaster and ruins, King Hezekiah respected the words and instead of killing him, King Hezekiah and the people turned from their evil ways, begged for mercy and worshiped the Lord. Then the Lord changed his mind about the disaster had pronounced against them.

Hezekiah in Proverbs

He collected the proverbs of King Solomon.(over 200 years had passed, Hezekiah was 13 kings after Solomon. See proverbs 25, probably chapters 25-29, Here are a few King Hezekiah collected

Don’t visit your neighbors too often,
    or you will wear out your welcome.

Singing cheerful songs to a person with a heavy heart
    is like taking someone’s coat in cold weather
    or pouring vinegar in a wound

It’s not good to eat too much honey,
    and it’s not good to seek honors for yourself.

A person without self-control
    is like a city with broken-down walls.

Hezekiah did not have a godly example of a father: (133 years of history condensed below)

Understand that Hezekiahs father, King Ahaz, was a wicked king – the opposite of his son Hezekiah. Ahaz reigned for 16 years starting at age 20. Hezekiah’s righteousness was probably taught to him from his mother -which might explain why her name is mentioned ” His (Hezekiahs) mother was Abijah, (Abi) the daughter of Zechariah”. He also knew much about history which is evident during his reign, as well as the laws of God. Ahaz, his father, rejected the Lord, he sacrificed his sons in the fire, he burned incense to shrines, shut the temple doors so no one could worship the Lord, he worshipped Ball, he made pagan shrines in all the towns, he rearranged the temple and sacrificial times and made his own rules based on what he saw the pagans doing in Assyria and their idol worship.

Hezekiah ruled for 29 years beginning at age 25. At age 39 he was given another 15 years to live. He died at age 54-55 and his (wicked) son Manasseh (age 12) ruled in his place, he was king of Judah for 55 years until his son Amos ruled (2 years)  then Josiah (age 8) rules for 31 years. King Hezekiah was a great and godly king, he did much good yet the sin of pride came in as a destroyer. Just like we see with King Solomon who, although a great and wise king, died in his sins. How easily the world pulls us into sin. We need to be diligent in our walk along the narrow path – a path that is difficult and few find it. Don’t get caught on the highway to hell, the path that is wide, easy and many choose- Matthew 7,  Isaiah is accused of walking this “narrow path” in Isaiah 30:11 ‘Get off your narrow path and stop telling us about your Holy One of Israel

Verse to think about:

Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked so hard to achieve. Be diligent so that you receive your full reward. Anyone who wanders away from this teaching has no relationship with God. But anyone who remains in the teaching of Christ has a relationship with both the Father and the Son. 2 John 1:8

 

 

Seeking the Lord

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Have you ever found yourself falling away from the Lord, the first love you had started to change?  The letters in the new testament continually remind me to stay on track and to check myself. In fact, David in Psalms prayed that God would search his heart and show him if there was any wickedness lurking in his heart.

Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
 See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139 

  In seeking the Lord, it’s important to check our hearts and our minds as we set out to seek Him.  Is there any unforgiveness? anger? jealousy? gossip?  When it’s time to clean heart, I like Psalm 131

 Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me. Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child. Let Israel hope in the Lord from henceforth and for ever.

  This verse is always checks me,  checks my heart and my mind as well as calms me down, which I need to do often.

Charles Stanley said : It’s very easy for us to lose our focus upon the Lord because the devil is always attacking us with temptations. Unless you and I seek Jesus Christ constantly, we will be tempted away from serving the Lord. Though we’ll never lose our salvation, we’ll lose the focus of our attention and our desire to Him. Therefore, we must seek God constantly so that we can live obediently before Him and experience His victory over the world. 

Pray time is something we need to invest in, commit to and crave – time alone with the Lord.  Sometimes it feels like God isn’t listening or can’t hear you, but that is no true. keep a prayer diary if you like to write, I found that writing my prayers was much more productive than praying in my head because I am so easily sidetracked. Ill be in the middle of a prayer and start to think of my list of things to do tomorrow and forget I was praying! Thats me , maybe not you.

Image result for praying seek god

God wants to have a relationship with you.

I was reading about Joshua this past week and noticed that God said – still there is so much more for your people and so much more ahead. We often think our here and now is it, but there’s always a great hope for your future. I often wondered why God didn’t give Israel everything all at once, why did they have to wait? When they left Egypt, God had great plans, but the people only saw their surrounding and complained. When God told them to go look at the land He wanted to give them, they again complained with fear so God punished them. 40 years later, they crossed over again to new lands, yet the greatness God had planned for them was still not complete. It never came to the absolute fulfillment of what the Lord wanted to give them because they didn’t fully obey Him. He told them not to mix with those who served foreign Gods, He told them to rid themselves of all idols and wickedness, yet the people served God and I guess you can say they served themselves too.

In the same way, God has great plans for you, but you need to straighten yourself out and put your feet back on the right path. Expect the great hope that lies before you. Don’t be afraid or fearful and always be content with your circumstances, not coveting the material things of others.

So back to our subject – Seeking the Lord with all your heart mind and soul – and loving God with all your heart, mind and soul.  Now in seeking Him, let’s clean and check our hearts daily, let us begin a new prayer walk and grow close to Him, Let us study His Word – which is AMAZING! Find a church, a small group or form your own.  God’s word is new each day, teaching, leading and helping us along the way.

O God … my soul thirst for You, my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirty land where there is no water Psalm 63:1

Yes, my soul thirsts for you O God in this dry and thirsty land.

Make Christ the center and focus of your World.

Read Philippians 4:7-8 and Psalm 91

 

You are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect

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The eye is the lamp of the body, if your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light, If your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.
(Matthew 6:22)

    Are you seeking the Lord? Do you want to draw closer to Him? As David prayed in the Scripture :

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Psalm 139

and a promise:

Draw near to God and He will Draw near to you James 4:8

 This world is pulling many Christians away,  I’d like you stop and consider your ways

 “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6:16 

Is our behavior holy? Are our words holy? Do we keep our eyes from evil? I think it’s time for many of us to grow up in the faith and maturity in Christ. One way is watching our path and the things we do and say.  For instance, we can’t act holy on Sundays around our Christian friends then live our own way when no one sees. God is not mocked, He sees everything. One way of guarding ourselves, our hearts,  from evil is by  keeping our eyes fixed on Christ. There’s a verse that I think of often ” be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil”  This verse makes me rethink or reconsider the shows and movies I watch as well as some of the music I hear.  God calls us out to be Holy, but are our lives a testimony of that?

 

Guard your heart above all else,
    for it determines the course of your life.

 Avoid all perverse talk;
    stay away from corrupt speech.

Look straight ahead,
    and fix your eyes on what lies before you.
 Mark out a straight path for your feet;
    stay on the safe path.
Don’t get sidetracked;
    keep your feet from following evil. Prov 4

 

What are you downloading into your heart? According to the verse above, it affects your life. Try, I challenge you, to go 1 month without listening to any songs that are profane, do not allow yourself to watch movies that are filthy -would Jesus watch that? I think not. Say the prayer of David above, ask God to show you whats in your heart,  maybe there’s something else in there you need to work on. Try it for a few weeks and see if you see a difference in yourself. I think you’ll be surprised with the difference this makes in your life.

In the book of Job, Job makes a covenant with His eyes not to look with lust at other woman.  Will you today, make an oath to cut something out of your life – like a mini lent season. Proverbs 4:23 tells us to guard out heart which included guarding our eyes, our mouth and our paths. Be careful what you put in your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Psalm 16:8  I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken

Some of us have been Christians for so long, but we haven’t moved past the elementary teachings. As is says in Hebrews 6:1, Let God’s work work in you and move you on to maturity. Take a step in Christian maturity, God needs you. You are called to be Holy, He has set you apart. Consider this verse in 2 Timothy: “Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work”  Would you begin to cleanse yourself so you will be a useful instrument in God’s plan  for you life and those around you? You know that day is coming when He will return, the harvest is great but the workers are few.  Take a step in your maturity and prepare yourself for good works doing whatever the Lord needs you to do – For His Kingdom.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.  The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. Phil 4 

   I doubt there’s a church that would tell you this, but Jesus said ”  you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect” Think about that………….

What do I do?

1-  Don’t fill your heart and mind with worthless and wicked ideas, movies, discussions, songs, thoughts, etc. (spend time reading His word)
2-Guard you heart- your eyes, your ears, you words, your path (turn off the TV)
3- Stop looking back -once we were enemies of God, but now through Christ, we are friends.
4- Consider what your thinking about. Fix your thoughts Phil 4
5-How many times have you looked only towards Christ today?
6- Ask God to show us any way in us that is not pleasing to Him (spend time in prayer)
7- Ask myself – Are my are focuses so deep in darkness that I can not see?
8-  Stop finding faults in others,  take the log out of our own eye first.
9-  Anything you do that you KNOW is wrong is a sin- Anything that you are looking at or thinking about that you know is wrong, it’s still a sin “romans 2:12-16
10- What you put before you to look at can change you. It can change your destiny, your eternity, your today and your tomorrow – it can change you mentally, physically and emotionally

Draw Near to Him and He will draw Near to you