Monday, June 30, 2008

Obedience leads to Peace

2 Chronicles 14:1-6
1 When Abijah died, he was buried in the City of David. Then his son Asa became the next king. There was peace in the land for ten years. 2 Asa did what was pleasing and good in the sight of the Lord his God. 3 He removed the foreign altars and the pagan shrines. He smashed the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah poles. 4 He commanded the people of Judah to seek the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and to obey his law and his commands. 5 Asa also removed the pagan shrines, as well as the incense altars from every one of Judah’s towns. So Asa’s kingdom enjoyed a period of peace. 6 During those peaceful years, he was able to build up the fortified towns throughout Judah. No one tried to make war against him at this time, for the Lord was giving him rest from his enemies.

What I see here, is that obedience can lead us to peace... a time of rest in the Lord from our enemies. In today's world... who or what is our enemy? I guess it could be whatever or whoever you think, but for me, the enemy is anything that takes away my focus from "walking in the spirit." Today at work I was talking to another co-worker, I shared that it seems to me that more and more people I know are not happy at what they do or what they have. Everyone has issues! It doesn't matter what jobs we have or what positions we hold... we're not happy! It doesn't matter where we live or what we have... we're not happy! The grass always look greener on the other side of the fence and it seems we want to go there so badly, yet when we get there, if we get there, there's nothing but more of the same issues and often it's even worse than where we were in the first place. Wouldn't you like to just be content and satisfied with your life. Able to slow down a bit and enjoy a peaceful lifestyle for a change. I know I would.

Now I'm not saying that if only we do what is pleasing and good in the sight of the Lord, that we'll have the same kind of peace that King Asa did. But look at what he did to have this kind of peace!

  1. He removed foreign alters and pagan shrines. (What kind of alters have we created in our life that take our focus off of our Lord God) You tell me. I thought about listing all the false idols and foreign alters we hold dear, but I think it's best that you think for yourself on this one.

  2. He removed the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah poles. (Like Asa, we must be actively removing anything that is offensive to God. If we want God's peace then we must eliminate sinful practices from our lives. We should continually ask God to help us remove any source of temptation from our lives.)

  3. He commanded everyone in Judah to seek the Lord and obey his laws and commands. (How do we do as individuals in this area, do we obey His laws and commands? What about our family. Do we expect them to seek the Lord and be obedient as well?)

Verse 5... So Asa's kingdom enjoyed a period of peace. Verse 6... The Lord was giving him rest. Maybe the peace we seek is simply found in these verses. What if we did remove things that take our focus off of God? What is we did ask God to help us walk away from sinful temptation and not fall victim to it? What if we did read His word and follow his laws and commands as He wants us to? I imagine we would experience a time of peace unlike any other. Maybe instead of running from place to place, job to job, or trying to find peace in other places than where we are at right now. Maybe we simply need to practice what Asa did. I've always believed that we're usually right where God wants us anyway. We just might not like it. I think we may be able to adapt better if only we had the peace that only God can give us. I know it worked for King Asa.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Game of Life

Today I had a good friend of mine tell me that her brother, who was a preacher, had given up on his church, he's no longer preaching because he's burnt out. He felt that his ministry was going no where. He hasn't given up on God, he's just frustrated with the church and his ministry just hasn't been what he had dreamed it would be. I know very little about him, yet I feel for him. It seems that this burnt out feeling is happening to more and more people that I know. I know from my own experience that burn out is something that can come upon any of us quickly and without notice. It seems that one day, we suddenly realize that nothings going the way we had hoped or planned, and because of this... we begin to experience burn out. I don't believe any of us would be burnt out if things were going great! But burn out, or at least the burn out I've experienced and seen in others has come from a dissatisfaction in our life in some way. Whether it comes from our unsatisfied health, work, family, marriage, ministry, church, friends, co-workers, etc. We get depressed and begin feeling down because of what we are experiencing. Our life just isn't what we thought it would be.

Usually we call mid life crisis a mid life crisis because we reached the middle part of our lives. We're halfway through our life! When we're young we have dreams, goals and visions. When were middle aged we hope to have accomplished some of those goals, dreams and visions, but what we've realized is that many of those dreams goals and visions have been shattered by the obstacles of life. Our priorities have changed, our dreams and goals have been compromised to adapt to where we are now and what we've achieved thus far in our "middle of our life" experiences.

I think of my life kind of like a foot ball game. When I started this game (when I was young) I had a play book, plans and dreams and goals. I had a vision of the outcome of this game, and I always believed that if I went out there and played my game the way I planned, then I'd win, I'd be successful, and have all that I ever dreamed I'd have. I could accomplish anything I set my mind to and I believed this. It's what drove me. Well for me and many others I know, it's a little past half time in our game of life. Yes, were middle of the way through... that is if we live to a ripe old age, and we're taking a look at where we are in this game and we're all making adjustments to our game plan. You see, the game must be played, and the desire is still the same, we still want to win the game and achieve our dreams and goals, but these dreams and visions are changed now, they're different. What used to be most important at the beginning is less important now and other priorities have emerged. In the beginning it was about me and my life, my goals and my dreams. Today it's about our dreams and goals (my wife and I), it's also about our children's dreams and their goals and visions and hopes for the future. My dreams have changed and my hopes have changed. This leaves me and others in a place of uncertainty for what lies ahead. We worry about our future, we're consumed about what's around the bend of our lives. Will we have a job? Will we have a family, or a home? Will we have a ministry? Will we have good health? These are just a few of the concerns we have for our future. I think the reason we think about these things so much is because we know that each of these things can be gone in the blink of an eye, a moments notice, and when they are, our life takes on a whole new direction and focus.

I don't know what the future holds for any of us, I don't have any idea how the last quarter of the game is played. But this I do know... most likely it won't be exactly like you planned. Oh I'm sure some of it will, but a lot of it won't. If I had just one thing to say to my friends and others my age going through all these changes and uncertainty of tomorrow, I'd say this...

There's only one thing that's certain. There's only one thing that will always go according to plan. There's only one thing that any of us can ever count and depend on, and that's Jesus Christ. He's the same yesterday, today, and forever! He's our rock of certainty in our ever changing lives. He's our anchor that keeps us secure and in place during all those storms we face. He's our light in a dark world. He's everything we are not! I think the greatest thing I've learned so far in my game of life, is that I will win in the end... no matter how I play, no matter what I'm faced with, no matter how badly I fail to execute the plays, I will still win in the end. I've learned that this game of life is not won by my achievements and success, it's won already by my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I say... play hard, go for the dreams and the visions that you hope to achieve, but understand that those things are not what's important. What's important is that you've enjoyed playing the game and celebrate the small victories along the way. We need to quit determining where we should be on the score board, and play hard and never give up and see the game through to the end. Because no matter how bad the score looks, I promise you this... You win in the end! YOU WIN in the END! When we realize this, we can start to enjoy playing the game a little more than we are right now... don't you think?

PRAYER: Dear Heavenly Father, may we always remember that you are in control. May we never forget that you will always be there with us through whatever we go through in our lives. May we quit measuring our success as compared to our dreams and goals and plans but rather, may we know that we'll win because we know You, the creator of our life. May we always seek Your will and driection and may we play the game of life with energy and enthisiasm and with a winners hearts, no matter how bad the score looks. Lord thank you for seeing us through to the end, and thank you for the celebration and eternal life that comes at the end of this game. It's good to be on the winning team! May we enjoy our time with you more as we already know the outcome of our lives. We win! It's in Jesus name I pray. Amen.