Saturday, May 31, 2014

God's Constant Character

Joshua 6:2-3 And the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days.

So here's what I really like about this passage.  It gives us a glimpse of God's constant character.  You see He starts out by assuring Joshua that He's got everything under control and has already won the victory over the enemies.  It also shows how God is Alpha and Omega.  He has no time boundaries.  He tells Joshua that He's already done the work, as in past tense.  And yet, the work hasn't even begun for Joshua.  I love it!  Makes me think of Him as "Jehovah Nissi", the Lord our Banner, who goes ahead of us and paves the way for us to see which way to go.  

And once He's assured Joshua that everything is under control, He proceeds to give him the instructions.  Now we all should know that God could have handed the city over to Joshua without having Joshua do anything at all. Why didn't He?  We know He had the power, as He had proven previously time and time again with the Israelites.   So why didn't He?  Was it just more fun to watch Joshua do the work?  No.  But it sure must be nice for God to see His people committed so deeply that they would do whatever He asks them to do.  And so Joshua followed the instructions and finally won over the city of Jericho as promised.  

Here's the thing that I find most intriguing and relatable to how God still deals with us now.  He doesn't just grant us things from afar like would a genie or wizard.  He instead brings us into the equation and walks us through the process showing us how He is involved every step of the way as we are faithful to obey and He is faithful to deliver.  He grants us the opportunity to show our faith in Him.  To obey Him.  And to recognize that He is there all along to sustain us and see us through whatever the circumstance.  Be it as big as knocking down Jericho's walls, or as small as showing patience toward our loved ones.  

Yet, the most special thing I find, although it doesn't come across in obvious terms, is that in making us part of the equation, God is actually relating with us.  He wants a relationship with us.  He doesn't want to be a god that sits on a throne and dictates or gives us gifts but doesn't really know us on a personal level.  He wants to have a relationship with us in which we will know Him and He will know us.  One in which we will walk together.  One in which we can depend on each other to do our part.  One in which there is trust and mutual love for each other.  God wants to relate with us.  He doesn't have to, but He wants to.  And He wants us to know everything about Him.  Not just His might and power, but His faithfulness and love.  

Monday, May 26, 2014

With Christ as Lord

What do you think will be said of you when you die?  How will you be remembered?  Have you any clue?  I seldom spend time thinking about this,  but the times when I do, I truly wonder...

I mean words can be flighty, and people's feelings may waver.  But the memory of someone or something can last forever in our minds.  And so when I think of the deaths of Jezebel and Jeroham, I am taken back by, not only their gruesomeness, but by the sad and empty legacy they left.

Do you know the stories?  For one Jezebel is known as one of the bad girls of the Bible, if not the worst. Here are the words of King Jehu spoken about her, "How can there be peace,” Jehu replied, “as long as all the idolatry and witchcraft of your mother Jezebel abound?” 2Kings 9:22.  Jezebel did not carry a good reputation, and she did not care to.  So when she knew that the king was coming to her town, she would unsuccessfully attempt to reel him in with her outward appearance.  The Bible says that, "When Jezebel heard about it, she put on eye makeup, arranged her hair and looked out of a window." 2Kings 9:30b.  
Big mistake to try and come up against a man who was charged with the power of God, and he could see right through her.  So he ordered that she be thrown down from her window, and she was.  The Bible goes on to say, "Throw her down!” Jehu said. So they threw her down, and some of her blood spattered the wall and the horses as they trampled her underfoot.... But when they went out to bury her, they found nothing except her skull, her feet and her hands. They went back and told Jehu, who said, “This is the word of the Lord that he spoke through his servant Elijah the Tishbite: On the plot of ground at Jezreel dogs will devour Jezebel’s flesh. Jezebel’s body will be like dung on the ground in the plot at Jezreel, so that no one will be able to say, ‘This is Jezebel.’” 2Kings 9:33, 35-37.

How sad to die a death that only dogs cared about.  No one came to claim her body, nobody really cared.  She had earned a reputation that would leave her with little to no friends.  What was worst was that she worshiped other gods and influenced others to do the same.  And that is the legacy of Jezebel; one noteworthy of evil.  

Then there is the story of Jeroham.  
 "Jehoram received a letter from Elijah the prophet, which said:
This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: ‘You have not followed the ways of your father Jehoshaphat or of Asa king of Judah. But you have followed the ways of the kings of Israel, and you have led Judah and the people of Jerusalem to prostitute themselves, just as the house of Ahab did. You have also murdered your own brothers, members of your own family, men who were better than you.  So now the Lord is about to strike your people, your sons, your wives and everything that is yours, with a heavy blow. You yourself will be very ill with a lingering disease of the bowels, until the disease causes your bowels to come out.’”...After all this, the Lord afflicted Jehoram with an incurable disease of the bowels.  In the course of time, at the end of the second year, his bowels came out because of the disease, and he died in great pain. His people made no funeral fire in his honor, as they had for his predecessors.  Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years. He passed away, to no one’s regret, and was buried in the City of David, but not in the tombs of the kings." 2 Chronicles 21: 12-15, 18-20

Needless to say, Jehoram was also a villain and he did not live to tell about it.  There were no cool movies made of his life, and most people do not even recognize the name.  If anyone should remember him, it would most likely because of his gruesome death.  

What stuck out to me most, however, were the words "He passed away, to no one's regret".  How sad.  No one would miss him.  No one would care.  No hero stories to share.  No legacy to remember.  

So back to the original question.  What do you think will be said of you when you die?  We're all probably feeling a bit "off the hook", when we compare ourselves to Jezebel and Jeroham.  There's no way that our deaths will be as bad as theirs.  Right? However, do you know that unless you are a follower of Christ, your death will be pointless?  And although it may not be a gruesome one, what comes after a life without Christ is more gruesome that we can imagine.  Life without Christ, is pointless; and death leaves no true legacy unless Christ is our savior.  

This is a tough pill to swallow if you're not walking with the Lord.  But if you're not walking with Him, there is always today to begin that walk.  To change the legacy you're making to one that brings Him glory.  To create a legacy if there isn't one yet.  To make both life and death a beautiful experience.  With Christ as Lord, living and dying have a beautiful purpose. And with Christ as Lord, there will always be much to say about you.  All good, of course :) 

Friday, May 16, 2014

If Only she'd Take Courage

There's a young bride whose dreams have shattered.  The "I do" she whispered not long ago has become much more than what she counted.   On that day she felt happy, but today is a different story.  And all that brought her joy on her wedding day has disappeared.  It seems the well spoken words, hopeful wishes, and heartfelt moments have gone away as well.  Everything has changed.  It seems everything has disappeared, as she stands alone in the middle of the empty rooms surrounded by the scent of the fresh painted walls of what, not too long ago, she considered "our home".

And she waits by the door.  Dinner is ready, but who for?   And she sits by the window, longing for him once more.  And she lies awake at night, wondering if the pain he's caused her will also disappear... like she's disappearing.

And she's almost gone; for sure the person she once was is fleeting.  Not even seeing that there's still more to live for.  Because she's hurting.  Feeling like the little girl whose feelings were crushed when forgotten or excluded.  Only this time, it's so much bigger.

So she hugs her little one, holding back tears every time.  She smiles a broken smile and walks past the broken glass.  Everything seems broken to her.

If only she had the faith... to believe that things can get better.  If only she mustered the courage to anticipate something greater.  If she would just take one more step.  If she would say just one word and believe that God is able to turn it all into good and for the better.
She would find that peace embraces her.  She would learn that love is deeper.  She would see that God is present and will never leave her.  

But if only, she'd take courage.

(Luke 8:40-47)