Old Testament In a Year: July 19 – 2 Kings 22, 23

2 Kings 22, 23
Focus Verse: And the king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people joined in the covenant. – 2 Kings 23:3

Even though the people of Judah joined Josiah in this covenant to the Lord, this was not a public show-off moment for Josiah. It was a personal declaration of loyalty, obedience, and faithfulness to God.

Josiah made a personal covenant to walk after the Lord and keep His commandments with all his heart and all his soul. He promised to perform, or obey, all the words that were written in the book of the law.

Josiah’s covenant to God was not dependent on any one else making a covenant to God. Even if no one else joined in the covenant, Josiah still would have made it. Even if no one else decided to walk after God, Josiah still would have walked after Him. Even if no one else decided to keep God’s commandments and perform His words, Josiah still would have done so.

Our commitment to God and our dedication to His Word must not depend on anyone else’s commitment or dedication to God. It must be our own choice, each and every day.

Old Testament In a Year: July 18 – 2 Kings 19, 20, 21

2 Kings 19, 20, 21
Focus Verse: Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, saying. – 2 Kings 20:2

When Hezekiah became sick and heard that he was going to die, what was his immediate response? It was not to ask questions or fall into a depression or give up hope altogether and not even attempt to talk to God. His immediate response was to pray to God, the same God who had told him ‘you shall die; you shall not recover.’

Hezekiah prayed and he cried. He asked God to remember his faithfulness and how he had done what was good in God’s sight.

Hezekiah’s prayer was an act of faith. God had already told him he wouldn’t recover from his sickness. God had already told him he would die. Hezekiah could have despaired. He could have thought: What good will praying to God do? It won’t get Him to change my situation. Yet, Hezekiah believed that prayer could change things. And it did. God heard his prayer. God saw his tears. And God healed him. What’s more? God added fifteen years to his life.

That is the power that prayer has. That is how faith in prayer, and faith in God, can change things.

Whenever you are faced with an impossible situation or given some difficult news, turn to God in prayer about it and request of Him what you need/want. Believe that He will hear you and answer you, just as He did Hezekiah.

Old Testament In a Year: July 17 – 2 Kings 17, 18

2 Kings 17, 18
Focus Verse: But they would not listen, but were stubborn, as their fathers had been, who did not believe in the Lord their God. – 2 Kings 17:14

Not listening to the Word of God and not obeying His commands is a sign that we do not believe in Him.

If to love Christ is to keep His commandments, then to believe in God is to listen to His Word and obey it. We cannot say we believe in God with our mouths, yet despise the laws and promises that He made us with our hearts. We cannot say we listen to God with our ears, yet lust after the world and fleshly desires with our eyes.

Our walk must reflect our talk. Our behaviour must match our beliefs. Who and what we follow must be evidence of our faith.

To believe is to obey.

Old Testament In a Year: July 16 – 2 Kings 15, 16

2 Kings 15, 16
Focus Verse: (This was the promise of the Lord that he gave to Jehu, “Your sons shall sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation.” And so it came to pass.) – 2 Kings 15:12

Every promise that God made, regardless of how inconsequential it may have seemed, has come to pass. God is not a human that He should lie. He does not say things that He will not do.

The promises God has made to you both in His Word and in your personal time together will come to pass. Every one of them. In God’s perfect timing and in His perfect way. Don’t doubt it.

Old Testament In a Year: July 15 – Amos 7, 8, 9

Amos 7, 8, 9
Focus Verse: But the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’ – Amos 7:15

Amos never imagined that he would be a prophet of God. He never thought that he would have a book of his own which would be included in God’s Word which is still being read today.

Amos was only a herdsman and a caretaker of sycamore trees. He was not a prophet. He was not a prophet’s son. The blood of prophets did not run in his veins. Yet, God had bigger plans and a greater purpose for Amos than Amos ever had for himself.

God took Amos from following the flock and taking care of trees, and made him a prophet to Israel.

You may be doing something right now that doesn’t seem important, but you have no idea what God has for you to do in the future. God’s plans for you are much bigger than the plans you have for yourself. His purpose for you is far greater than you could ever imagine.

Old Testament In a Year: July 14 – Amos 4, 5, 6

Amos 4, 5, 6
Focus Verse: Seek good, and not evil, that you may live; and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you, as you have said. – Amos 5:14

Instead of being passionate and energetic in pursuing evil, you should be passionate and energetic in pursuing good and in seeking God. Only then will God truly be with you and truly be near to help you.

Being a Christian in name only does not mean God will always bless you no matter what or that you can do whatever it is you want. God’s blessings, help, and presence in your life is dependent on your obedience to Him.

So, do not seek after evil people or evil things; do not enjoy the company or listen to the conversation of evil people; do not entertain anything that has the appearance of evil. Evil ought not to be sought, but shunned; avoided, not applauded; not merely disliked, but fiercely hated.

Seek that which is good, and in your pursuit of good, seek “the chief good,” who is God. He is perfectly good, eternally good, immutably good, and the source of all goodness. He is the Father of the good Savior, the good Shepherd, the good Samaritan – Jesus the Christ – who has already been made your sacrifice and is ready now to be your friend and guide. So, seek Christ. And also seek the Spirit who will work good in your life and will give you the power to work good out of your life.

Old Testament In a Year: July 13 – Amos 1, 2, 3

Amos 1, 2, 3
Focus Verse: Also it was I who brought you up out of the land of Egypt and led you forty years in the wilderness, to possess the land of the Amorite. – Amos 2:10

May we never do as the Israelites repeatedly did and forget the good things that God has done for us. Because if we forget His actions, it will not be long before we stop following His steps.

Old Testament In a Year: July 12 – Jonah 1, 2, 3, 4

Jonah 1, 2, 3, 4
Focus Verse: Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish. – Jonah 2:1

Jonah was not right when he tried to flee to Tarshish to get away from the presence of the Lord. He wasn’t right when he became angry because the people of Nineveh turned from their evil ways. He wasn’t right when he showed displeasure at God’s compassion toward the repentant people of Nineveh. He wasn’t right when he said that it was better for him to die than to live. But Jonah was right when he prayed to God while in the belly of the fish.

Praying to God was about the only thing Jonah could do. He had tried running from God, and that hadn’t worked. So, while surrounded by ocean water and seaweed and whatever else was in the fish’s belly, Jonah got down on his knees and prayed to God for deliverance.

And out of the belly of the fish, God heard Jonah’s voice.

When Jonah thought his life was fainting away, God brought him up from the heart of the seas.

Despite his disobedience and contemptuous spirit, God still used Jonah to lead a nation to repentance and salvation. In doing so, they were delivered from destruction.

When you are in a state of distress and feel closed in on all sides, without any place to turn – turn to God. When you cannot go forward or backward or to the left or right – look upward. Call out to the Lord, and He will hear your voice and answer you.

Even when your trouble is your own fault, as Jonah’s trouble was his fault, don’t despair. Don’t give up. Don’t think that God cannot still use you. He can.

If God has a purpose that He wants you to fulfill, no failure or mistake – not even your own – can thwart it from being fulfilled.

Old Testament In a Year: July 11 – 2 Kings 13, 14

2 Kings 13, 14
Focus Verse: Then the man of God was angry with him and said, “You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck down Syria until you had made an end of it, but now you will strike down Syria only three times.” – 2 Kings 13:19

When Elisha was near death, King Joash went to him crying because he feared that Israel would now be defeated by Syria. With a bow and several arrows, Elisha demonstrated how it would be Syria that was defeated by Israel and not the other way around.

Elisha told Joash to take the arrows and strike the ground with them. Joash took the arrows, struck the ground three times, and then stopped. Elisha was angry with him for stopping at the number three. In doing so, he limited his future victory. Instead of defeating Syria five or six times until they were completely destroyed, he would only defeat them three times.

Are you doing the same as Joash by placing limits on what God can do in your life by making small requests of Him? In your prayers, do you strike three times and then stop?

Your God is a big God; so why ask Him for a small blessing? Your God is a triumphant God; so why ask Him for only one victory? Your God is a rescuing God; so why ask Him for only a partial deliverance?

Don’t limit God, thus limiting His goodness in your life, by only striking His throne of grace three times. Keep striking! In other words, keep praying. Keep asking. Keep seeking. Keep knocking.