Friday, July 24, 2009

Let Us Quit Ourselves Like Christians

  As I was reading 2 Chronicles 11-13 for part of my devotion this morning, my heart was pricked over one of Rehoboam's sins, primarily because I have seen that same sin in my life.

"And it came to pass, when Rehoboam had established the kingdom, and had strengthened himself, he forsook the law of the LORD, and all Israel with him."
2 Chronicles 12:1
      Later it also says of him,

  "And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the LORD."
2 Chronicles 12:14

  I immediately saw my selfish soul when I read those verses.  Many, many times had I been faithful to God when times were hard and He had allowed me to get to the end of myself.  However, once things started "looking up" and I was sailing smoother waters, I neglected that faithful love to my LORD.  Of course I was not alone, for other people (lost and saved) were watching my testimony; and, unless they were of stronger character, would follow suit.
  During the rougher patches in my life, when I finally gave up and let God have the control of my now yielded life, my faith seemed to soar!  I rarely had doubts of His abilities to do whatever He wanted to do, and I was more willing to accept His will, come what may.  My heart indeed was much more humble, because I realized that I was useless, but He could put me to use if I was in submission to Him.  These were the times that my walk seemed stronger.
  Yet when God allowed things to ease up, how fickle I became! I  honestly believe that God allows them only for a breather, as well as a good looking glass:  for in these times I see how utterly despicable I am, and that indeed in me dwelleth no good thing.  Lately, though, God has been giving me gentle reminders that during these "smoother" times we currently are blessed with, do not forget to stay humble to Him.
He has also been gently reminding me to prepare my heart to seek my LORD.  I know that I am not the best at this feat; my husband is much better at study, devotion, prayer, and service to God.  I am very weak in this area.  Yet, every time I do my devotions, God reminds me to not stop seeking His face, to not stop learning of Him, to not stop living as He would have me to live, and so on.   Oh boy, am I ever grateful for His tenderness!
So, I guess my question for you would be:  Are you forgetting God when times are going good?  Have you also been neglecting the preparation of your heart for Him?  Ladies, we simply will not be Christ's ladies if we neglect these things.  I have learned, through my unfortunate stubbornness, how ineffective and destructive I can be when I am unfaithful to God.  I really do not want to see any others tread the path I have trod!  TRUST ME, IT ISN'T WORTH IT!  It will be much better for your soul, and much sweeter to the heart, if God is your first love and King of your heart!
Do not forget Him or His commands when things are relatively calm and easy-going.  Do not stop preparing your heart for Him.  Do not stop loving Him with all your being.  It is a much ruder wake-up call to humility when He rips it away due to idolatry and rebellion in the heart.  It is a lot easier to gladly accept God's will, when He allows harder times to come when a heart has stayed faithful to Him; for, it knows His will is best.  Please, let us all strive not be be Rehoboamites, but Christians.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ornan the Jebusite

     A while back when I was doing my daily devotion, I happened upon the account of Ornan the Jebusite.  It was he who gave his threshingfloor, tools, oxen, and anything else King David needed for his sacrifice to the LORD:   to stay the angel of the LORD executing any more judgment.  He showed such great diplomacy, as one king to another, during this difficult time of chastisement.
     The fact that this man was a Jebusite got me thinking more about Ornan.  I knew that there was something about the Jebusites that I was not remembering.  So, I did a little corresponding with my computer's concordance.  The Jebusites, for one thing, are mentioned back in Genesis 15:21 as one of the pagan peoples that God would be removing from the land He promised to Abraham.  More specifically, their former city of Jebus became what King David renamed Jerusalem.

"Aha," I said to myself, "I found it!"

     Ornan, as he is called in 1 Chronicles, is also known as Araunah in 2 Samuel.  I would like to put in just the passage found in 2 Samuel 24:17-25 for study:

"And David spoke unto the LORD when he saw the angel that smote the people, and said, Lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly: but these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, be against me, and against my father's house. And Gad came that day to David, and said unto him, Go up, rear an altar unto the LORD in the threshingfloor of Araunah the Jebusite.  And David, according to the saying of Gad, went up as the LORD commanded. And Araunah looked, and saw the king and his servants coming on toward him: and Araunah went out, and bowed himself before the king on his face upon the ground. And Araunah said, Wherefore is my lord the king come to his servant? And David said, To buy the threshingfloor of thee, to build an altar unto the LORD, that the plague may be stayed from the people. And Araunah said unto David, Let my lord the king take and offer up what seemeth good unto him: behold, here be oxen for burnt sacrifice, and threshing instruments and other instruments of the oxen for wood. All these things did Araunah, as a king, give unto the king. And Araunah said unto the king, The LORD thy God accept thee. And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. And David built there an altar unto the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the LORD was entreated for the land, and the plague was stayed from Israel."

     First of all, here is the whole reason there was a plague in Israel, 

"And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel. And David said to Joab and to the rulers of the people, Go, number Israel from Beer-sheba even to Dan; and bring the number of them to me, that I may know it. And Joab answered, The LORD make his people an hundred times so many more as they be: but, my lord the king, are they not all my lord's servants? why then doth my lord require this thing? why will he be a cause of trespass to Israel? Nevertheless the king's word prevailed against Joab. Wherefore Joab departed, and went throughout all Israel, and came to Jerusalem. And Joab gave the sum of the number of the people unto David. And all they of Israel were a thousand thousand and an hundred thousand men that drew sword: and Judah was four hundred threescore and ten thousand men that drew sword. But Levi and Benjamin counted he not among them: for the king's word was abominable to Joab. And God was displeased with this thing; therefore he smote Israel." 
I Chronicles 21:1-7

     I was impressed by Joab's response, because he was not always a faithful fellow; but, at least here he shows discernment.  It is evident that Satan was stoking the flames of David's pride, and David bit.  He was not going to be swayed by the plea of his servant Joab, and it was not until the fruition of his sin did he repent, (by the way, it took the men who numbered Israel nine months and twenty days, 2 Samuel 24:8).  By the time David repented, God already decided there was going to have to be punishment.

     He was given three options:

  1. 7 years of famine, 
  2. 3 months of running from his enemies, or 
  3. 3 days' plague by the Lord's hand. 
     He chose to have the three days' plague, knowing that the Lord's mercies are infinite.  Finally, David was told to go to Araunah's threshing floor to offer sacrifice unto the LORD.

     I find it interesting that God told him to go to a Jebusite's home.  David overcame the Jebusites to have what is now Jerusalem.  I am sure they were not exactly peaches-and-cream over the idea of that defeat.  They were also listed with other pagan nations God was going to remove from the land for Abraham and his seed.  Yet, the place God wanted David to sacrifice was at the threshing floor of a Jebusite.

     The Jebusite Araunah was extremely diplomatic to the king who took his land.  He was willing to give all his equipment and livestock necessary for offering.  It is worthy to note that in 1 Chronicles 21:23, Araunah (mentioned as Ornan) offers not only his oxen and threshing instruments, but also wheat for a meat offering. That was not a cheap offering!  David realized this fact, and gave him 600 shekels of gold (shekel = weight).

     The fact that God mentions that Araunah treated David as a king to a king is notable.  He did not have to be that way, yet he was.  If God noticed it to have mentioned it, no doubt David, a man after God's heart, noticed it, too.  Araunah shows humility and diplomacy, something I know I lack a great deal of both.

     The thing that I take from these two passages is the fact that I need to be humble, diplomatic, and willing to give what is asked of me or needed of me.  Araunah was willing to do all, without any air of arrogance, or showing at all that he would be put out by it.  How many times do I struggle to give because it requires me to do without?  I must remember that God gives me those opportunities to give to glorify Him, as Araunah did.  I must also remember that I must always show diplomacy, for I am an ambassador for Christ.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Our Bible Institute Graduation

     Okay, so I have waited long enough to enter a new post.  I did not prolong the time of writing in here because I did not have anything of which to speak, but because I was hoping to have some pictures from the graduation to add along with the article.  Oh, well.
     The graduation was simply amazing!  The Lord was definitely glorified that night, and not because of our power, but by Him using us for His glory!  My soul was truly touched by Him that night, and yes, family members were able to attend!
     I tried very much not to cry, however, it was inevitable that I would.  I think I lasted as far as my pastor giving the introduction, and that was as long as I could hold them back.  The tears flowed, and I barely was able to sing my favorite hymn ,"It Is Well With My Soul," without being constantly choked up.  Then, I was the first to go up to give my testimony, and I cried all the way through it.  The Lord is immensely merciful, gracious, and loving with me!
     I am so grateful that my pastor suggested the idea of writing out my testimony for the graduation, because I surely needed it that night!  There would have been no way, save the Lord's good graces, that I would have remembered everything I wanted to say, in regards to the Bible Institute and God.  It really helped having it right there ready for me before I began!
     Dear's favorite hymn was sung after I sat down, and then he was able to go up and give his testimony. He was able to give his testimony without it being written down.  His testimony was beautiful, though!  Seeing the Lord's work in my husband's life since his salvation three years ago, has been a wonder for me.  I am so glad that God answered my prayers!
     Once Dear was finished speaking, the preacher gave us our charge.  It was a wonderful message, and we are both so thankful that the Lord let him be the speaker!  Following his message was the distributing of the diplomas, and they are beautiful!
  I am so thankful that the Lord has seen fit to allow both of us the privilege and honour of learning more of Him through Bible Institute.  I am so very fortunate to have been saved, and to be blessed through these studies.   I will never be able to fully express my love and gratitude to Him for all He has done, and continues to do in my life.   Experiencing the graduation and commencement service was very humbling.
     On another note, last Friday I was able to enjoy the birthday present his dad and stepmom gave to me:  a trip to the zoo!  It was absolutely beautiful:  no cloud in the sky and 85 degrees. :)  I was able to take many pictures of God's wonderful creation!

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