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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Silencing the Voice of Intimidation (Part 1)

“Silencing the Voice of Intimidation”
(part 1)

“Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. He held fast to the Lord and did not cease to follow him; he kept the commands the Lord had given Moses. And the Lord was with him, he was successful in whatever he undertook.”
2 Kings 18:5-7

What a testimony! How many of you would love to have words, like these, penned in the pages of history about your faith in God? Hezekiah was a man who trusted God, was persistent in his faith, and very successful. However, there was a time in his life where his confidence in God was undermined by the voice of his enemy!

In the fourteenth year of Hezekiah’s reign as King of Judah, the King of Assyria attacked all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them.

“So Hezekiah king of Judah sent this message to the king of Assyria at Lachish: “I have done wrong. Withdraw from me, and I will pay whatever you demand of me.” The king of Assyria exacted from Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold.”
2 Kings 18:14

However, this did not stop the King of Assyria from advancing on Jerusalem. The King of Assyria sent his supreme commander, his chief officer, and his field commander with a large army from Lachish to address King Hezekiah. They stopped at the aqueduct of the Upper Pool on the road to the Washerman’s field and called for King Hezekiah to come out. This was a strategic decision. Assyria now controlled the water that was flowing into the city, which meant they could easily lay siege to Jerusalem. So Hezekiah’s officials were forced to go out and meet the commanders of the Assyrian army. Their mission was one of “intimidation”. When Hezekiah’s officials came to the Upper Pool the Assyrian field commander stepped up:

“The field command said to them, “Tell Hezekiah: This is what the great king, the king of Assyria says: On what are you basing this confidence of yours? You say you have strategy and military strength- but you speak only empty words. On whom are you depending, that you rebel against me: Look now, you are depending on Egypt, that splintered reed of a staff, which pierces a man’s hand and wounds him if he leans on it! Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who depend on him. And if you say to me, “We are depending on the Lord our God”- isn’t he the one whose high places and altars Hezekiah removed, saying to Judah and Jerusalem, “You must worship before this altar in Jerusalem?”

2 Kings 18:19-22

In a nutshell, the field commander was asking: “On what are you basing your confidence?” Are you depending on your own strength? Are you depending on the strength of others? Are you depending on the ‘Lord Your God’? The ultimate purpose of intimidation is to undermine our confidence in God! It’s goal is to move us away from God causing us to seek safety, provision, and protection from another source.

Pastor Scott Burr http://faithandworshipseries.blogspot.com

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

"Stand Firm in Your Faith"

“If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.”

Isaiah 7:9b

I was gripped during my devotion, earlier this week, by this verse found in the book of Isaiah. In the passage leading up to this verse, Judah had come under attack by Rezin- King of Aram and then again by Pekah- King of Israel. Both armies tried and failed to penetrate the walls of Jerusalem and destroy the City of David. Ahaz, son of Jotham, was King of Judah at that time and managed to keep the imposing armies at bay.

Then word came to the king that Aram & Ephraim (Israel) planned to join forces and try again to overpower them:

“Now the House of David was told, “Aram has allied itself with Ephraim”; so the hearts of Ahaz and his people were shaken, as the trees of the forest are shaken by the wind.”

Isaiah 7:1-2

Have you ever been shaken? Like Judah, we can usually face opposition and trials, with a measure of confidence, if they come at us “one” at a time. However, when “more” than one comes at us at once we often become gripped with fear. Ahaz faced his opposition successfully when they came at him separately, but now they were coming at him at the same time. Trouble always seem to comes in pairs. We never really face one problem at a time, but usually we get bombarded from many different directions.

In the midst of this, God spoke to Isaiah and told him to go to the king and give him this message:

“Say to him, ‘Be careful, keep calm, and don’t be afraid. Do not lose heart because of these two smoldering stubs of firewood.”

Isaiah 7:4a

Judah’s enemies wanted to invade them, tear the city apart and divide it among themselves, but God had the final word:

“Yet this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “It will not take place, it will not happen.”

Isaiah 7:7

God promised Judah that within sixty-five years Aram and Ephraim would be too shattered to be a people. He told them to stand firm in their faith and trust Him! If they did not stand firm in their faith, they would not stand at all! He told Ahaz to ask Him for a sign that would signify His faithfulness. Ahaz refused to ask, so the Lord gave Him a sign:

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”
Isaiah 7:14

God pointed to the coming of Christ as the sign of His faithfulness. Be encouraged today! Jesus is still God’s sign of faithfulness towards us. Although you may feel as if the enemies that you are facing are going to overwhelm you, God says, “It will not take place, It will not happen.” But you must stand firm in your faith, if you hope to stand at all.

Pastor Scott Burr http://faithandworshipseries.blogspot.com