Pray for Manasseh

Photo shows excerpt from Awaken, by Priscilla Shirer, published by B&H Publishing

You can always tell God is trying to get your attention about something when He keeps bringing it up. This very thing happened to me recently: I was reading Psalm 103 late one evening, and then Day 34 in Priscilla Shirer’s Awaken the next morning, really just a few hours later.

She was talking about Manasseh, who ranks right up there among the most despicable kings Judah ever had. He was, to put it mildly, a hopeless case, and it is safe to say he had a lot to do with Judah earning time in exile. He was exiled too, of course, and 2 Chronicles 33:11 shares that, “They put a ring through his nose, bound him in bronze chains, and led him away to Babylon.”

But then something amazing happened. Remember, this was a truly evil king: “Manasseh also murdered many innocent people until Jerusalem was filled from one end to the other with innocent blood. This was in addition to the sin that he caused the people of Judah to commit, leading them to do evil in the LORD’s sight.” (2 Kings 21:16) Even so, something happened and, while in exile, he woke up to his sin.

“But while in deep distress, Manasseh sought the LORD his God and sincerely humbled himself before the God of his ancestors.” (2 Chron. 33:12)

It took exile and being “in deep distress” for the change to occur, but it turns out Manasseh wasn’t a hopeless case after all. He humbly repented, turned his life around completely (which is what repentance is all about), and not only did God forgive him but He also returned this formerly evil king to his kingdom. Why? The answer is found in Psalm 103:8-11.

The LORD is compassionate and merciful,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
He will not constantly accuse us,
nor remain angry forever.
He does not punish us for all our sins;
he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.
For his unfailing love toward those who fear him
is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.

So, on Day 34 of Awaken, Priscilla references Psalm 103:8-11. In this devotion, she covers how limitless God’s mercy is, that it’s never too late and you’re never too far gone for God to restore you – just like He did Manasseh (2 Chron. 33). 

No matter what you have done, no matter how evil you have been, you are never too far gone for God to restore you if you will only humble yourself, fall on His mercy, and repent – turning your life around and your back on sin. Jesus came specifically to die for our sins: Yours won’t stand between you and Him unless you let them.

Most of my readers are Christians and hopefully already understand the magnitude of God’s grace and mercy, how willingly He gave His Son Jesus as a sacrifice for even the worst of sinners. So, it’s time to take this knowledge and carry it even further.

How many times, especially if you live in the south, have you heard it said of a horrible person, “He needs Jesus!” Usually, this is more of a culturally-based sentiment than a spiritually-based declaration, but it is true. We all need Jesus, including the most evil person you know. Further, if that evil person doesn’t receive Jesus, he or she will spend eternity in Hell.

So, I’m here to offer us a challenge. Let’s choose to genuinely walk in the love of the Lord, following Jesus’ example. I propose that we each select one person, just one, who seems unredeemable, and commit to pray for them until God tells us to stop. More to the point, ask God who He would have that one person be. You may not like His choice, but if He asks anything of you, He has a purpose.

Because prayer is unimaginably powerful. It is, truly, one of the most mind blowing weapons in our arsenal, and it can accomplish amazing things. Honestly, usually those things, those changes, are revealed first in us. For instance, as we pray for another person, often we find ourselves letting go of unforgiveness (even unforgiveness we didn’t know we were holding onto) and growing in compassion, mercy, and the love of God. This is a massive step forward for us even if we never personally see a change in the other.

But what if there is a change? What if your Manasseh repents and becomes a whole new man? What if he starts living his life differently? What if he ends up in Heaven instead of Hell? I trust that you wouldn’t really wish an eternity in Hell on even the most evil person you know. The positive changes in him could be as far reaching as Manasseh’s changes, affecting untold numbers of people for years down the road.

You would have had a part in it, and that part’s only cost is humbling yourself and praying for someone who doesn’t deserve it – any more than you deserved it when Jesus accepted you.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Scriptures used are in the New Living Translation (NLT)

In His Mercy

What happens when God tells you to do something and you don’t? Well, it varies, but here’s one story.

He told me to write a book years ago, and I started…then dropped it. Years later, He told me to get back on it and I did…and later dropped it. A few months ago, He told me to get back on it again, and I started planning, but… yeah.

I’ve been faithfully back at it, seriously at it, for several weeks now and I’m excited about both how it’s changed from when God first told me to do it and the progress I’m making as I work. I’m also excited by how clearly my story illustrates His mercy. He could have given up on me, but He didn’t. He kept coming back and saying, “Tammy, I gave you a job to do. Now let’s get going.”

And there’s even more to His mercy in my story. When I started, years ago, I thought I knew what it would look like, and it was fairly simple. Then God added more to the plan. When I picked it up recently, I knew I’d be working on the “more,” but then He added even more. Why? He knows me!

When faced with what feels like a huge task, I can get overwhelmed. God knows this, so He broke the book down into manageable phases. What might have had me throwing my hands up in defeat if I’d seen the whole vision up front, ended up being an exciting journey because I wasn’t worrying about the next phase while working on the current one.

God knows everything we will need to become who He wants us to be, and He’s merciful and gracious enough to work with our weaknesses.

Thank God!

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

When We Worship Part 2

I did not expect to have a part two, but you can never predict God.

The women of our church have a dedicated worship hour every month. This is the service I referred to in my earlier post, “When We Worship.” God always meets me there. He talks to me. He gives me visions. He encourages me… Tonight was different. Tonight He called me.

I used to write, used to have my own publishing company that produced ebooks for homeschoolers, used to edit a large homeschool magazine. God gave me those gifts and I used them in that homeschooling season. Then I…laid them down. Other than the occasional blog post and the writing I do for work, I’ve done almost nothing with my gift of words for ten years.

Tonight that changes. Tonight, during worship, God told me that it’s time to pick that gift back up and return it to Him. Interestingly enough (though it’s not really a surprise), two things happened this weekend that led me directly into this conversation with Him. “Do you remember when you said…?” He asked. Yes. Yes I did.

So why am I sharing this? Two reasons.

1. The lesser reason: Accountability. The more people I tell, the more likely I am to follow through. Because when God calls you to go out on a limb it is easy to find excuses not to. I’ve done that very thing many times in the past. This time MUST be different.

2. The big reason: This is a reminder that you never know what will happen when you set aside time to wholeheartedly worship Him. He will meet with you. He may give you reassurance, peace, visions…or an assignment. When it’s the latter, remember one particularly vital point: Obedience is also worship.

Yep. I’m preaching to me.

Celebrating Jesus!

Tammy C